One step ahead of the trend – inter­view with Innosoft

One step ahead of the trend – inter­view with Innosoft

Geschäftsführer Peter Ebbrecht und Entwicklungsleiter Lukas Offerhaus

Ser­vice 4.0 – com­mon­ly used as a catch­word, it is often not clear what exact­ly is behind it. Clo­se­ly rela­ted to Ser­vice 4.0 are usual­ly the pos­si­bi­li­ties and oppor­tu­nities that ari­se from digi­tiz­a­ti­on. Inno­soft GmbH from Dort­mund reco­gni­zed this ear­ly on and dyna­mi­cal­ly adap­ted its own solu­ti­on port­fo­lio – for examp­le, with a con­sis­tent con­ver­si­on to cloud-enab­led web app­li­ca­ti­ons, which also offer a high poten­ti­al for indi­vi­dua­liz­a­ti­on. And the next step is alrea­dy in the works: Ever­ything is beco­m­ing mobi­le. How Inno­soft does not only try to meet the trends, but also to be always one step ahead, SERVICE TODAY edi­tor Micha­el Braun tried to fathom in an inter­view with the deve­lo­p­ment mana­ger Lukas Offer­haus and Peter Ebbrecht, one of the mana­ging direc­tors of Inno­soft GmbH.

Micha­el Braun: “Ser­vice 4.0” is a buz­z­word on everyone’s lips at the moment – what do you under­stand by it at Innosoft?

Lukas Offer­haus: Ser­vice 4.0′ is usual­ly used in a very abs­tract way and often dis­mis­sed as a fashion­ab­le slo­gan. Ulti­mate­ly, howe­ver, it con­ce­als a very valu­able pro­ject: Impro­ve exis­ting ser­vices and crea­te new ones using digi­tiz­a­ti­on methods. The sheer end­less pos­si­bi­li­ties offe­red by big data, machi­ne lear­ning, IoT or even the cloud make the sub­ject very com­plex and dif­fi­cult to grasp.

Peter Ebbrecht: For me, this is the con­sis­tent inte­gra­ti­on of ever­yo­ne invol­ved in the ser­vice pro­cess, from the ser­vice tech­ni­ci­an to the cus­to­mer to the machine.

Lukas Offer­haus: And this is whe­re we, as a soft­ware manu­fac­tu­rer for ser­vice com­pa­nies, are par­ti­cu­lar­ly invol­ved and challenged.

Micha­el Braun: Inno­soft has faced up to the chan­ge and con­sist­ent­ly ori­en­ted its solu­ti­ons towards cloud-enab­led web app­li­ca­ti­ons – can you say some­thing about the dif­fe­ren­ces bet­ween the two con­cepts “instal­led app­li­ca­ti­on” vs. “web app­li­ca­ti­on” from your per­spec­ti­ve as a developer?

Lukas Offer­haus: The huge advan­ta­ge for the users of a web app­li­ca­ti­on com­pa­red to the clas­sic desk­top instal­la­ti­on is its fle­xi­bi­li­ty. Users can access the app­li­ca­ti­on on all their devices, regard­less of plat­form. It does not mat­ter whe­ther they use the soft­ware on their Win­dows com­pu­ter, Android smart­pho­ne or iPad.

Peter Ebbrecht: The cloud app­li­ca­ti­on is aimed at all tho­se who are inte­res­ted in the direct use of sys­tems that are avail­ab­le at any time without having to worry about IT sys­tems. In addi­ti­on to plat­form inde­pen­dence, the high sca­la­bi­li­ty in the com­pa­ny is also important.

Micha­el Braun: Which advan­ta­ges of web instal­la­ti­ons do you see espe­cial­ly in the inter­na­tio­nal con­text of glo­bal­ly ope­ra­ting companies?

Lukas Offer­haus: For the users, it is cer­tain­ly the avai­la­bi­li­ty at any time and from any loca­ti­on, for the IT sys­tem admi­nis­tra­tors the gre­at advan­ta­ge is the cen­tral admi­nis­tra­ti­on. The­re are no local cli­ents that need to be main­tai­ned, updated or instal­led. After all, a modern brow­ser is avail­ab­le on every device the­se days.

Micha­el Braun: You have deve­lo­ped an online Cus­to­mer Por­tal — what are the capa­bi­li­ties of this portal?

Peter Ebbrecht: The Cus­to­mer Por­tal meets the deman­ds of today’s con­su­mers to be able to access a maxi­mum amount of infor­ma­ti­on at any time. This is a fur­ther step towards inte­gra­ting the cus­to­mer into the ser­vice process.

Micha­el Braun: How is the cus­to­mer involved?

Peter Ebbrecht: The cus­to­mer gets access to the infor­ma­ti­on about his machi­ne. For examp­le, he can view the manufacturer’s ser­vice docu­men­ta­ti­on, acti­vi­ty reports from the tech­ni­ci­ans or the cur­rent UVV inspec­tion online. Key­word ticket trans­pa­ren­cy: The cus­to­mer is trans­par­ent­ly invol­ved in the pro­blem solution.

Lukas Offer­haus: We pro­vi­de a stan­dard com­po­nent that allows our cus­to­mers to crea­te a ser­vice pro­duct that is expec­ted in today’s mar­ket. It is important to us that our cus­to­mers retain con­trol over the degree of trans­pa­ren­cy they wish to dis­c­lo­se to their cus­to­mers. It is pre­cise­ly this indis­pensable fle­xi­bi­li­ty that natu­ral­ly con­fronts us with per­ma­nent chal­len­ges during development.

Micha­el Braun: In what way? And how do you sol­ve this task?

Lukas Offer­haus: We focus our deve­lo­p­ment efforts on forming a solid, stan­dar­di­zed app­li­ca­ti­on core that is high­ly con­fi­gura­ble. This con­fi­gu­ra­ti­on can be done by our cus­to­mers them­sel­ves. Alter­na­tively, of cour­se, we also offer the necessa­ry con­sul­ting ser­vices and let our cus­to­mers bene­fit from our expe­ri­ence in this area.

Peter Ebbrecht: The demand for incre­a­sed trans­pa­ren­cy is con­stant­ly evol­ving in our socie­ty; ever­yo­ne wants to be able to access more and more infor­ma­ti­on. We take this trend into account, but lea­ve it up to the manu­fac­tu­rer to deci­de how far he wants to open up to his cus­to­mers. The modu­lar sys­tem we pro­vi­de enab­les our cus­to­mers to react quick­ly to chan­ging requi­re­ments and adjust the degree of trans­pa­ren­cy as required.

Micha­el Braun: You also offer mobi­le solu­ti­ons – what can they do and whe­re do they sup­port the tech­ni­cal service?

Peter Ebbrecht: The mobi­le cli­ent is the link bet­ween back office and tech­ni­ci­an. Basi­cal­ly, our mobi­le solu­ti­ons bring tech­ni­ci­ans and the com­pa­ny clo­ser tog­e­ther: they are pro­vi­ded with more infor­ma­ti­on and later report back more infor­ma­ti­on to the head office.

Lukas Offer­haus: One focus is to sim­pli­fy the input and retrie­val of infor­ma­ti­on for the tech­ni­ci­an on site. The lower bar­ri­ers ensu­re that the qua­li­ty of ser­vice and the qua­li­ty of the feed­back data incre­a­ses. The soft­ware used on a dai­ly basis plays a signi­fi­cant role in bin­ding tech­ni­ci­ans to their own company.

Micha­el Braun: If you look into the future — what next steps do you expect for ser­vice in the soft­ware environment?

Peter Ebbrecht: An even stron­ger net­wor­king. Cus­to­mers, machi­nes and tech­ni­ci­ans will move clo­ser tog­e­ther digi­tal­ly. Mobi­le devices and the devices in the back office will mer­ge more and more. You can alrea­dy see it now. Tech­no­lo­gies that are still in their infan­cy today will beco­me the stan­dard. Expert know­ledge will incre­a­singly be digi­tal­ly pro­jec­ted onto end devices. Com­pa­nies must have a glo­bal pre­sence, but they can­not have the high­ly qua­li­fied tech­ni­ci­ans on site ever­y­whe­re, so it will be the know-how that goes on the road rather than the peop­le who have it.

Lukas Offer­haus: We also see gre­at poten­ti­al in the area of machi­ne lear­ning. Both with regard to the con­di­ti­on of machi­nes, such as pre­dic­ti­ve main­ten­an­ce, and in our spe­cial area, i.e. the sche­du­ling of ser­vice tech­ni­ci­ans. We assu­me that on this basis the­re is still a lot of poten­ti­al for opti­miz­a­ti­on that can­not be easi­ly iden­ti­fied by humans.

Peter Ebbrecht: It is likely that in the future intel­li­gent sys­tems will send tech­ni­ci­ans on their way becau­se they alrea­dy know that he will be nee­ded at a cer­tain place on a cer­tain date. This will cer­tain­ly be one of the next steps in service.