Big Data Analytics, Cognitive Intelligence, Interviews, Machine Learning

The backbone of New Business Models: Interview with Sebastian Appelhans from thyssenkrupp

Appelhans picture rezied

Sebastian Appelhans, Head of tk Business Process Management, thyssenkrupp

In the course of the 2018 Cognitive Business Automation Conference, we.CONECT spoke with speaker Sebastian Appelhans, Head of tk Business Process Management at thyssenkrupp about the impact of AI and cognitive technologies on businesses.

we.CONECT: What does the future look like for businesses in terms of AI and cognitive technologies?

Sebastian Appelhans: For a diversified industrial cooperation like thyssenkrupp, AI and cognitive technologies will provide the basis for new business models and the further expansion of the current portfolio. These so called “big data” technologies will provide the backbone from the transformation of pure product-based business models into service-based business models. We see AI and cognitive technologies as enablers or vital backbones of our coming and developing business models.

we.CONECT: In your opinion, what are the main opportunities of advancing methods in intelligent automation?

Sebastian Appelhans: These technologies or – more operational wise – the underlying procedures enable us to provide service offerings on a stable and cost-efficient basis. Example: Where we have sold products like elevators in the past, we now can offer transport availability within a building complex as a service. This service is a of package or products – the elevators – as well as supporting services, which deliver direct or indirect benefits. Without pre-emptive maintenance based on advanced analytics, we would never be able to offer services like these.

we.CONECT: What are the current trends in RPA, AI and cognitive technologies?

Sebastian Appelhans: One main trend we see is the necessity to get access to data – both actual and legacy – independent from system architecture and data formats in order to generate the desired information asap. In addition, we see that the usability, especially the combination of advanced analytics and scalable, intuitive graphic visualization interfaces within one tool has become a paramount request by our customers – both internal and external. Switching between different expert or “nerd”-tools is not considered acceptable anymore. Also, pure reporting tools are no longer requested, as the aim is the reduction of interfaces.

we.CONECT: You will be presenting a case study at Cognitive Business Automation called ‘The importance of machine learning for the harmonisation of heterogeneous legacy and actual data.’ Please can you give us an idea of what delegates will take away from the session?

Sebastian Appelhans: Contrary to start-ups, most corporations have a history and legacy constraints, which they need to consider and gradually transform with minimal interference of active business operations. The case study describes that our approach also works in a brownfield environment, i.e. that it is also possible to levy the desired improvements within our complex set-up. We consider this to be mission critical for our future success.

we.CONECT: Which burning questions would you like to discuss within the Cognitive Business Automation community?

Sebastian Appelhans: Sharing experience – especially in the case of brownfield transformations – with other participants in order to learn from these experiences in a give-and-take-approach.

we.CONECT: Which burning questions would you like to discuss within the Cognitive Business Automation community?

Sebastian Appelhans: The art of transforming Proof-of-concepts in a standard mode of operations, i.e. the embedding and administrating of these advanced methods as services in an existing infrastructure.

we.CONECT: Time for some shout outs! What did you read recently that would interest other like-minded people?

Sebastian Appelhans: I always had the most interest in speakers with professional backgrounds that can report from a successful legacy of optimization or transformation projects with sustainable results. While there is not the one-size-fits-all solution – the desired “wonder weapon” – there certainly is the possibility for a central platform that promotes the implementation of decentralized use cases.  All people with similar experience are people I like to speak to and share and / or discuss experiences.

I am sort of tired from ppt and consulting presentations that try to ignore parts of reality or offer back-and-white solutions in prefabricated sandbox environments. The sales organizations of the usual consulting and application providers try to get appointments with me two or three times a week. While the literature is full of analyses with regard to google, uber, amazon etc., I see the current industrial corporations a bit underrepresented in the literature-based discussions. All these corporations need to successfully accomplish brownfield approaches or they will have to shut down business operations to somewhere in the future.

we.CONECT: Thank you for your time to participate in an interview.

About Sebastian Appelhans: 

After obtaining his PhD degree from WWU Münster, Germany in 2000, Dr. Appelhans has served in various leading position at Siemens AG. In 2015, he took over the newly established position as head of tk Business Process Management. Besides the cross-corporate optimization of business processes, he is responsible for the conceptual enhancement, implementation and governance of the corporate-wide harmonization program daproh (data- and process harmonization) at thyssenkrupp.