Application examples: Education and training, Other
Product examples: Advisory services, Mechatronic systems
Value creation: Other, Design & Engineering
Development stage: Market-ready/productive use
Company size: 1 - 250 employees
Region: Lower Saxony

What were the challenges to be solved and what specific benefits were achieved

Because in mechanical engineering we are developing at monkey speed into a "zero border cost and metoo society" and the economic survival of many companies is at stake! The solution to get out of this dilemma is to significantly increase customer benefits through the digitization potential that can only now be realized economically. The smart product upgrade in the sense of the customer experience is currently the opportunity to create the latest added value and value development in the global market.

The app helps sales people, product managers, business development managers and other employees with a sales affinity to systematically identify their customers' new needs for a smart product. This is because it is based on 24 globally valid benefit elements that customers initially want to see as possible added value. If the user uses the app to determine the priorities of these basic 24 customer buying motives, the app suggests a possible direction for the technical features of a smart - i.e. an intelligent, networked - product. The focus is always on the new, digital customer needs. This enables the user - despite the enormous variety of digital, technical variants - to specifically control a smart product solution that is perfectly adapted to the customer's needs. In this way, SMEs in particular avoid wasting scarce resources (time, money), avoid the fire-threatening over-engineering and create excellent customer proximity in their customer relationship on the way to customer experience. The ultimate goal of digitization!

How can the Industrie 4.0 approach be described?

The fundamental question is: How is added value created? And how does this change industry 4.0? Yet the value is what our economic system and our companies are all about - unfortunately, the opposite is already becoming apparent today: every additional sensor is evaluated as added value! This is wrong and leads to SMEs in particular easily falling behind in the digital transformation because they have only limited resources. The aim of this future-oriented tool is to support SMEs with a smart needs analysis for smart customer needs. The VALUE COMPASS was currently the winner in the Apps category of the IT 2018 Innovation Award.

What could be achieved?

Three medium-sized companies use the app for digital upgrade projects in the industrial environment 4.0. For example, Expresso a handling technology company from Kassel relies on the results of the customer survey using the VALUE COMPASS app. Agile project management is currently leading to the creation of smart prototypes in two business segments, which will be tested together with customers in autumn 2018. In October 2018, a research project will also be launched with the Technical University of Braunschweig to increase usability and AI-supported operation and the AI-supported technical recommendations of the app for smart product upgrades.

What measures have been taken to achieve the solution?

By means of a smart upgrade at the SME EXPRESSO ( in Kassel, a handling technology company, I, as a sales/smart coach, began to accompany the concrete implementation from a purely mechanical to an intelligent, networked product. My initial spark was in sales and started with a visit to the IBM Watson Center in Munich. There, the journey began with a design thinking approach to new value creation and business models. It struck me that value creation is often only insufficiently focused on or not focused on at all. Why? Let me describe it this way for mechanical engineering: The management hands over the new smart product to sales engineers, in this case a Tesla with a backpack - with the announcement: "So, now you're going to our new target group "cyclists" and selling them our smart Tesla! At the customer's site, this sales engineer then says the following to this cyclist: "Good day, I have brought you something fine today. You are a cyclist. In this respect you will certainly be interested in our new car! The backpack is opened, the car is put on the table and the "customer dialogue" begins with the question: "Well, how do you find him? And here the topic of "value development" and securing value contributions has already fallen into the well at the start. A gigantic destruction of value is taking place right now! If you don't believe me, I'll invite you to a trade fair and I'll be happy to show you in person! Simply send an email to:

What can others learn from it?

  1. No gain without pain! To take necessary risks as a freelancer means: 3 years of self-study "fulltime" at your own expense. 2. be prepared to constructively question inner values and, if necessary, discover new ones and adjust your new behaviour accordingly. Think and act interdisciplinarily in order to set off for new shores. Or in other words: It's about new cultures, characterized by openness, curiosity and if possible even enthusiasm for smart technologies. "We should not ask, can machines think, but rather what can machines do?" (AI pioneer Alan Turing)
  2. Neuroscientifically, the theory says that a maximum of 20% of people are prepared to courageously go ahead with something new. My expertise shows: This theory clearly applies to the hard facts out there in mechanical engineering; out of 10 mechanical engineers, 8 gave me a basket! What explanation do I have? Keyword: Blind spot in mechanical engineering. One is blinded by the current export success of predominantly purely mechanical products and does not really believe that since 2007 almost all hardware manufacturers in Dow Jones have been passed on to the back. Means for me: Stay on the ball, the way is right!


Keeping an eye on the new digital customer benefits was a particular concern for me when we were smartly upgrading our ergonomic handling devices and transport systems. After all, not every additional sensor automatically brings added value for the customer! And to ensure that an added value can actually be derived from a possible added value, the Benefit Compass with its 24 questions and individual smart tips can be very helpful.