Man in suit pressing digital maintenance buttons, representing digitalized service
#Digital Infrastructures

Embracing digitalized service in the currency industry

Expert Opinion
6 Mins.

As remote work becomes normal in a post-COVID world, the need for digital tools and technologies will only grow. In customer service, virtual diagnostics, e-Portals, and remote solutions offer numerous advantages, from reduced cost to greater efficiency. Security will be a critical consideration in all industries. Matthias Gukelberger, Global Vice President and Head of Business Line Service in the Currency Technology business of G+D, explains how embracing secure digital solutions can improve business-wide operations.

How do you define digitalization?

Among service industry professionals, digitalization means the shift from traditional to digital information channels – from a telephone to an ePortal, from paper-based to cloud-based records, from on-premise to remote diagnostics, and from ad hoc to real-time data intelligence – to enhance the modern customer’s experience and thus drive forward a future-ready business.

What benefits does this shift offer?

There are four broad benefits I would highlight: reduced costs, improved efficiency, greater speed, and better health and safety. Virtual diagnostics, for example, reduce the need for more costly and time-consuming visits to a customer’s premises. Self-service ePortals enable a customer to open service tickets, order spare parts, and troubleshoot with online guides quickly and efficiently. During the COVID-19 pandemic, easy-to-use digital tools had the added benefit of helping to keep customer and G+D employees safe and sound.

How does security affect digitalization and vice versa?

In the cash industry, security and trust go hand-in-hand. At G+D, we go to great lengths to reassure our customers that our IT infrastructure is secure. Our visual support solution, which enables our staff to diagnose machine issues remotely, complies with EU GDPR laws and has SOC Type II certification, which ranks products on integrity, confidentiality, and privacy.

Is digitalization a substitute or a complement to human customer service?

I view it as an enhancement. There will always be a need for human expertise, but what I find exciting is the extent to which digital channels will improve on what humans can do. For example, in the hands of a skilled technician, data-driven analysis replaces guesswork and gut feeling when it comes to servicing and maintaining banknote processing systems.

“There will always be a need for human expertise, but what I find exciting is the extent to which digital channels will improve on what humans can do“
Matthias Gukelberger
Global Vice President and Head of Business Line Service in the Currency Technology business of G+D

What impact is Industry 4.0 having on how customer service is provided?

For any business looking to improve the customer experience, a digital service is the “what,” while Industry 4.0 is the “how.” For example, predictive maintenance (the “what”) is enabled through technologies such as smart sensors, AI ,and IIoT (the “how”). Industry 4.0 is also helping to create new service models. Just-in-time service – when maintenance is carried out and components are replaced shortly before a machine is expected to fail – and utility based services – leveraging real-time-monitoring solutions – are particularly interesting examples.

Machine-as-a-service is another trend that we’re hearing a lot about. What can you tell us about it in relation to customer service?

It is a lease-based procurement model, whereby hardware is installed at the customer’s site but is owned by a third party. The customer pays for the utilization that the hardware provides, rather than for the hardware itself, via a service-level agreement (SLA). The SLA includes customer service elements, so the hardware receives remote software updates, and digital communications can be used to highlight issues that can be rectified via video-assisted visual support. It’s popular because it helps to shift spending from a capex-based model to a more flexible and predictable opex-based model.

However, it is important not to focus on a single machine or product, particularly in the cash industry …

That’s true. Tomorrow’s customer will be more interested in purchasing an end-to-end solution, rather than individual hardware and software assets. The reason is simple: they are wary of investing in technical expertise, inventory, maintenance, and upgrade costs, only to find a new industry standard arrives on the market a few years later. To prepare for such a future, manufacturers and service providers must focus on the end-to-end solution architecture, by defining how each individual unit fits into the wider picture, like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. This will allow them to build, optimize, and sell precisely what the customer expects.

Have digital services enhanced your ability to serve different customers and markets around the world?

Although G+D has a footprint in every major market around the globe, digital services are enabling us to assist, connect, and support our customers more quickly and comprehensively than ever before. It is important to note, however, that all digital services require a level of trust. Providing remote service to a cash center, for example, requires trust in the technology’s security, efficiency, long-term productivity, and ability to deliver a return on investment. Delivering these outcomes helps to overcome technical challenges, such as upgrading to digital devices or setting up a reliable intra-network.

What are the biggest challenges to more widespread adoption of digital technologies in customer service?

Portrait image of Matthias Gukelberger, Head of Business Line Service at G+D
Matthias Gukelberger, Global Vice President and Head of Business Line Service in the Currency Technology business of G+D, believes that digitalization can vastly improve customer service for businesses

There are three in my experience: unrealistic expectations with a limited budget, a lack of expertise, and doing digitalization for its own sake. Often, digital technologies are expected to deliver spectacular results too early. When they are put to the test prematurely and do not deliver the hoped-for results, it destroys stakeholder trust and means digital-first customer service funding is harder to secure in the future. In part, this can be attributed to a lack of skills within an organization. It can also be a result of businesses feeling pressured to adopt a digital tool because their competitors are using it or to fit in with a preconceived notion of how a modern company should operate to improve the customer experience. In my opinion, a digitalization strategy should proceed only when a business has properly validated the tools and technologies it wants to use.

Digitalization and innovation are often discussed together. What is the relationship between them?

I define digitalization as the transformation and upgrading of existing business processes by leveraging digital technologies. As mentioned previously, the classic example is converting analog information into digital form. On the other hand, innovation is either an improvement in how an existing product or service is manufactured, or the creation of an entirely new product or service.
The sweet spot between the two is digital innovation, which is the development of digital products, services, and business models. For example, using sensors to monitor the condition of a banknote processing system is digitalization, but leveraging the data from the monitoring process to create a new product or service is digital innovation.

What are some of the most important upcoming digitalization trends, in your view?

In my opinion, several technologies that appear mythical today may be the norm tomorrow. Non-creative, knowledge-based, high-precision, and repetitive tasks will be replaced by reprogrammable robots. This will allow humans to pursue more creative, value-adding roles instead. As soon as cloud computing and storage surpasses local computing price and performance – notably in speed, scalability, and ubiquity – physical desktop PCs will become obsolete. Additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, will see spare parts printed at the point of use rather than being shipped from a factory in another region or country. Finally, virtual reality training solutions will allow operators and service engineers to be trained on new systems and new features without traveling, and even without having a product in front of them.

Published: 11/03/2021

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