There were many speakers that caused a light-bulb moment on our first x4in summit after Corona, which took place on 10th May 2023 at KORN’S Kongresszentrum – the highest conference venue in Nuremberg.

Politics, high-tech, trade and research: top-class participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland met on the occasion of our conference. Under the title of “World in Motion”, renowned instigators and strategists from a wide range of industries and fields of expertise presented possible strategies for success in a rapidly and constantly changing business world and revealed their personal favourite tools and strategies for implementation.

The day was over far too quickly – all participants, speakers and we as hosts agreed on that. Consequently, our guests rated the event with an excellent 4.94 out of 5 possible stars. Many thanks for this great evaluation!

Learnings from the individual presentations – a subjective selection

Certainly everyone took home different thoughts and ideas from the x4in summit. Because everyone entered the conference hall above the rooftops of Nuremberg’s old town in the morning with a different level of experience and knowledge and, of course, also expectations. Nevertheless, here is a brief flashback of the presentations and the most important insights and messages:

  • Technology trends in retail: How IT is changing the industry
    Based on a survey of entrepreneurs, Ulrich Spaan of the EHI Retail Institute pointed out the following top three technology trends in German retail:
    1) AI and machine learning 2) seamless checkout and 3) customer centricity. More is being invested in ERP and SCM solutions than in the previous year. 69% of the respondents said they already use AI in their company. Spaan showed the use of intelligent shopping trolleys, self-service checkouts with image recognition, electronic price labelling and stockout identification via cobots and drones in stationary business as prime examples.
  • Leading people in changing times
    Change management is a topic that is currently moving many people. Oliver Schlöman presented tools and methods such as OKR, Perma Lead and the Change Map, which offer employees a framework, security, orientation and control during change. He also showed 4 success factors for change processes: 1) A committed sponsor 2) Enthusiastic change agents 3) Resilience management 4) Consideration of the corporate culture. Most important learning: Always be able to answer the following question to every employee: What’s in for me?
  • Agile planning in dynamic times
    He is a self-confessed data and analytics freak and as such, Sören Moorahrend from celver had a lot of input from the areas of BI (Business Intelligence) and Corporate Performance Management for the audience. “It is not the issue that causes the trouble. It is the inability to react.” With this motto in mind, he wanted to convince the audience of the necessity and advantages of agile management. Moorahrend brought along case studies of digital twins in the supply chain and showed how agile real-time planning and simulation is possible within just a few seconds. Not only are what-if scenarios made visible, but alternative courses of action, including costing, are also automatically suggested. Conclusion: it is possible to act agilely even in dynamic times – as long as technologies are available that enable people to continue being creative.
  • ETERNA Mode: Digital transformation in the fashion industry
    Another highlight at this year’s x4in summit was the presentation given by ETERNA CEO Henning Gerbaulet. He showed the digital transformation process at ETERNA in the areas of customer excellence and supply chain, among others, which the xalution team accompanied as a strong partner over several months and thus contributed to make the ERP area the backbone of the ETERNA tech stack. Gerbaulet described the simultaneous cultural transformation as a decisive success factor, as many job profiles would soon be replaced by new, unprecedented ones: a real challenge for many employees. They were integrated through the concept of the “hero’s journey”, which included targeted team-building measures such as workshops, analyses by external coaches and participatory projects. With great success: half of the staff participated enthusiastically.
  • How is Microsoft looking to the future?
    Microsoft expert Miriam Nasser revealed what the tech giant currently recommends for organisations. The focus here is on data sharing and data security, especially against the backdrop of increasingly used AI technologies. Those who want to act quickly in times of rapid change need fast access to a wide variety of data. Nasser therefore advises companies to abandon silo thinking: Departments should have the possibility to access data from other departments without detours and, conversely, to share their data with everyone. Cloud offers provide a secure and reliable basis for this. Once all the data has been combined in a cloud platform, the next step could even be automated decision-making. And also AI could be used here, e.g. in the area of risk optimization, since AI can identify patterns and trends and issue warnings if necessary.
  • AI and Metaverse – Technologies that are already changing our lives today
    Dr Frederike Fritzsche, Tech Ambassador at Otto, took the participants on a journey through the future. She presented e.g. the use of artificial intelligence for image control on around 5,000 Otto partner platforms in order to prevent warnings due to missing energy labels on electrical appliances. And AI-supported monitoring of ordering behaviour in the Otto online shop to quickly identify fraud via typical behaviour patterns. For a successful implementation of AI in the company, Otto places a lot of emphasis on employee training. Among other things, all managers were had to participate in special AI workshops. In addition, internal expert circles for AI and Metaverse were set up – “with employees who are keen on new things and discovering trends and who are eager to exchange ideas about them.
  • Geopolitics and geoeconomics – where does that leave Europe/Germany?
    The keynote speech by Rudolf Scharping, former Federal Minister and Former Prime Minister, marked another milestone of the day. Travelling on the borderline between business and politics, he gave the participants extensive insights into the complex mechanisms of the global economy, focussing in particular on China, a country he knows very well. His tip for Europe and Germany: move away from navel-gazing and increasing provincialism! A lot is happening in other parts of the world, he said, and new trading communities are emerging in which Europe has no part. In the long run, Europe would have to be content with a smaller role on the global stage – at least if it does not succeed in making up for the large deficits, especially in digitalisation and education. Consequently, Scharping also has a tip for German entrepreneurs at the end: Don’t just look after your company, but also look after Germany and Europe!

The most important eye-openers?

  • Was to realize that it is not important to prevent negative events, but to master them successfully. And that this is now much better supported by agile planning and simulation than it was a few years ago.
    (Oliver Schlömann, Partner Team Retail Excellence)
  • It was interesting to see what other companies are already testing or even using in practice – whether in the field of AI or the metaverse.
    (Bernhard Westphal, Senior Director Logistics, Takko Holding GmbH)
  • That you must not forget the people when implementing digital projects. It was interesting to say how much is feasible and has to be considered in the area of change management.
    (Sabine Busslehner, ERP Operations Manager, ODLO International AG)
  • Many companies face the same challenges in change management. But: with the methods we are applying, we are obviously on the right track.
    (Dr. Stefanie Rankl, Head of Tech Stack Project/PMO Digitale Transformation, ETERNA Mode GmbH)
  • That you can lead employees better giving them positive experiences. There is still a need to catch up on such leadership topics – at the companies and at the universities too.
    (Daniel Großhauser Fakultätsreferent, Technische Hochschule Nürnberg)
  • We should understand the challenge of optimally positioning ourselves for a constantly changing world as an opportunity. Sparring partners like our speakers today or our team members in daily business bring new approaches and perspectives that everyone can only benefit from.
    (Eike Fischer, Geschäftsführer xalution group GmbH)

If you were not able to attend, please feel free to contact us for further insights on the summit – or even if you are interested in a further exchange. We are looking forward to it!