Let’s connect: The Open Digital Community is bringing IT professionals together
thyssenkrupp is a large group of companies that operates internationally – with roughly 100,000 employees across 56 different countries. That is why our many experts in digitalisation, IT, and the tech sector are scattered all over the world. Up to now, we have only really exchanged information about current projects, developments, and technologies in a very informal way or on a departmental or case-by-case basis. We launched our internal Open Digital Community* (ODC) so that we could better connect employees across the organisation and encourage professionals to share what they have learned.
Sharing data with IT professionals and other interested parties
The Open Digital Community is an internal community and online networking platform which allows staff, primarily, to share data and collaborate with one another. They can use this platform to discuss current use cases, to contribute to discussions on the DigiTables and DigiExpertTalks channels, or to tune into our DigiPodcasts where we release episodes regularly. The community is made up of a wide variety of IT professionals across the organisation: from Europe, India, Greater China and North America to name a few. The community is represented by contributions from staff from each of our six business segments and from various departments, such as SAP, Data Science, Software Development and IT Project Management. From apprentices and junior staff to senior staff. And the invitation is not just extended to experts in the field of digitalisation – we invite anyone who is interested in digital issues to contribute.
The Open Digital Community consequently strengthens the sense of community that exists within the organisation. Volker Lang (CIO & Head of Digital Solutions, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG) and Dr Sebastian Klemm (Head of Operations, thyssenkrupp Bilstein GmbH) highlight the relevance of having a cross-business communications platform like this to discuss issues affecting digitalisation: “We see this open exchange, which serves as a support network for staff, as being a very strong asset to our organisation. We already had support networks in place, but these were often restricted to employees’ own personal networks. Everyone at thyssenkrupp has access to the Open Digital Community and can take part in discussions. We can share expert knowledge with one another and support staff with their professional, and personal, development all thanks to the ODC.” In future, we plan to make content available in English as a means of establishing a dialogue with our colleagues overseas. "In the ODC there are no segment or company boundaries, only a 'we'. thyssenkrupp employees from all hierarchical levels work together and at the same level here," says Laura Kreienkamp (IT-Management & Steering, thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG), describing the community.
Learning and benefiting from others’ projects
There is a range of channels available on the Open Digital Community for staff to share data and learn about current developments and technologies.
You can enter the keywords “Projects with a focus on digitalisation” on our internal portal to hear our Open Digital Community experts talk about the digitalisation projects they are working on across the organisation, and learn about how they are implementing such projects. They ask open-ended questions, provide useful recommendations, and report on their success stories. But, as we all know, we can also learn from our mistakes. That is why we don't limit our content to just sharing successful use cases. Project managers benefit from exchanging ideas with other digitalisation professionals and receiving feedback from them – and sharing data in this way means taking steps forward when it comes to digital developments. Christoph Bruns (Head of Process Automation & Robotics, tk IM GmbH) explains: “We want to learn from one another and not always start things from scratch.” For Laura Kreienkamp it is also clear: "Everyone can learn something from everyone else here, because everyone has already had different experiences, both positive and negative. On the one hand, you pass on experiences and on the other, you benefit from those of others." The community allows you to send emails to colleagues to ask follow-up questions about a variety of projects, and facilitates contact with project managers if you wish to learn more about a certain topic or implement a similar project. "Contact persons give every digitalization topic a face." There are currently more than 50 use cases available online – and we are constantly adding more.
Get in touch with our IT colleagues
The community meets online roughly every two months using the DigiTables and DigiExpertTalks channels to discuss digital topics such as “Robotics & Co.: Man and machine - friend or foe?” or “Big Data & IIoT – Business opportunity or data grave”. We hold lively discussions on the advantages and disadvantages of work in this field which last around 90 minutes, and these discussions are supplemented by success stories as well as less successful stories.
When we start discussions on the DigiTables and DigiExpertTalks channels, experts give a brief but interesting and informative insight into the relevant digitalisation topic up for discussion, such as Machine Learning, Big Data or IIoT. We deliver material in lay terms so that it can be accessed by staff across the organisation regardless of their level of expertise in the field. This is complemented by personal accounts from staff working across different business segments, and a Q&A session in which questions posed in the chat or verbally are answered. As the events take place virtually over Teams, it is not just possible for staff to share their experiences across the different segments, but these events also provide us with an opportunity to connect with our international community – regardless of where they are in the world, be it in Germany, Lichtenstein, India or Brazil. Kirstin Seuken (Transformation Office, tk IM GmbH) and Christoph Bruns (Head of Process Automation & Robotics, tk IM GmbH) are responsible for moderating the lively discussions, the most recent of which saw contributions from 80 participants. You are guaranteed to learn something new and be provided with valuable input if you participate in the discussions held on the DigiTable and DigiExpertTalk channels.
Projects for you to listen to
The Open Digital Community also delivers information in the form of a podcast, namely the DigiPodcast. Guests on the podcast provide brief and succinct reports on their exciting projects over a period of five to ten minutes: We cover a wide range of topics from Cloud Services and Kubernetes, IT Security and Digitalisation to the IDIL Bot, which simplifies ICS control as an RPA (Robotic Process Automation) by means of automation, making it more efficient. We release new DigiPodcast episodes internally every Monday – it really pays to tune in!
*As the Open Digital Community is an internal thyssenkrupp community, links in this article can only be accessed using thyssenkrupp Intranet.