A business relationship is often quite like a marriage. In good times and bad: after knowing each other for so many years, you don’t make quite as much effort. Even at DB Systel and DB Services, the spark had somehow faded. Although actually united under Deutsche Bahn, the two divisions no longer clicked. And like in a marriage, what can help both sides work together is crisis management, but above all, communication. Gradually you get closer to each other again and make the relationship stronger than ever before.
Today, Karsten Weder, Account Manager at DB Systel and Andre Obiora, CIO of DB Services, can almost smile about the situation back then, because the ill-feeling is now completely gone. In fact, the complete opposite is true: one really notices how well they understand each other in a conversation. And above all, they trust each other. But that wasn’t always the case. “Various events in the past led to a loss of trust – something that cannot simply be forgotten overnight. A decisive reason for this was that DB Systel was not really committed to us as a customer. The offers made to us often didn’t match our needs.”
In many cases, standard solutions were offered. Or as Karsten Weder says: “We had certain products in our range – and that’s what we offered, even though it was often not the best solution for the customer.” Innovations were often a dead loss, and projects didn’t achieve the desired success. Although DB Systel should have been the first point of contact for innovative IT solutions, DB Services increasingly looked for support externally.
Turnaround in collaboration
But this situation has long since changed: just over a year ago, DB Systel extended its offering to include cloud solutions. At the same time, customer teams were established that place the customer at the centre of their business and engage the operational units when needed. The teams consist of experts who are familiar with the special needs of the relevant customers and thus able to prepare the best offers.
Previously, you simply received an order by email and processed it some way. Now we take great trouble to actively approach the customer.
From developer to consultant
External solutions are implemented together with the customer. We advise in selecting, testing and integrating new applications into the existing IT landscape. “And that’s exactly what we expect from our IT partner: it must be familiar with our business”, adds Andre Obiora. For DB Services, a decisive moment en route to this new collaboration was when DB Systel submitted an offer saying: “We can do this, but there are better solutions outside the DB Group.” A clear signal that DB Systel is responsible for the optimal solution and will also integrate it in future. This means a custom development or a standard product from DB Systel no longer has to be used in every case; an external solution may also be acquired, which is then integrated.
The aim is to work in close collaboration with the customer. “Previously, we were proud to say: we are a full-service provider, we can do everything from a single source – from development through to operations management. “Today, we see ourselves as more of an integrator, an enabler, a consultant”, says Weder.
Everyone in the team has an interest in offering the best solutions for customers. Employees are given the freedom to develop their ideas – always following the principle: what can we achieve with data, and what benefit does it offer the customer? On a guided tour of the Skydeck in Berlin, DB Services was able to get an impression of the innovative working methods.
Enthusiasm in the Skydeck
In the Skydeck, technological terms such as “big data“, “Internet of Things” or “predictive maintenance” are brought to life and made tangible. The intelligent solutions that are developed here should offer customers added value. Like the intelligent waste bin, presented by the “Zero One Data” start-up company initiated by DB Systel, which signals when it’s nearly full. Or a system that recognises current weather conditions and automatically activates corresponding processes – such as notifying the winter maintenance service in the event of snow.
The degree of innovation has clearly risen. We are now offered solutions of a high technical standard.
Trying out things, developing prototypes and implementing practical ideas – a strategy that also impresses DB Services. And they show what digitalisation can mean for DB Services.
The benefits of a trusting relationship between DB Systel and DB Services was clear from the outset to all those involved. But only by highlighting the flexibility and innovation has it been possible to portray quite a different image. So a start has been made, there is a mutual trust and the partnership is established. For collaboration, it’s now a case of “more of the same!”