Leading German Manufacturer is implementing Social Digital Knowledge Management
Interview with Robin Reips, Customer Service at ABICOR BINZEL
Who is ABICOR BINZEL?
Founded 1945 Alexander Binzel Schweisstechnik GmbH & Co. KG early specialized in the development and production of inert-gas shielded welding and cutting torches for MIG/MAG, TIG and plasma.
Since that time many patented developments characterize the world of welding and cutting and put an international standard.
With more than 30 subsidiaries, more than 20 exclusive sales partners and over 1000 employees worldwide the ABICOR BINZEL Group is represented in more than 50 countries. In 1997 the Company brand ABICOR was established as the expression of a company strategy depending on innovation and globalization following a clear brand policy.
Why is ABICOR BINZEL implementing a state of the art Social Digital Knowledge Management system?
Due to the large geographic footprint of the company, rising competition and fast technological development, ABICOR BINZEL needs to ensure that it employees and partners all over the world always are well trained on the products, the technology and the technical sales process. We implemented an extranet for our subsidaries, but soon found out that it was not used to the extent we wanted it to be used and it did not create the competence impact we need. The system lacked a lively and interactive communication, as you have them in online communities. So, we still get a lot of questions via phone and e-mail, which is very time consuming for the product marketing and technology departments. Therefore, we started to use a Learning Management System and designed courses with standard eLearning tools., believing this would create less open questions. This also did not work the way we wanted it to, as the LMS was in a silo and designing courses in standard tools took very long. As a medium size company, we simply do not have the bandwidth of resources to support an own large eLearning or training department centrally. We have to communicate fast and learn from each other, especially as we have to reach out to the whole world.
What goals do you want to achieve?
We see the necessity to communicate customer challenges quicker and on a more global scale to meet their expectations. We also want to ensure, that our travelling force and partners stay up to date at any given time and also benefit from each others knowledge. This made us decide to start using SmarterPath as a social intranet with embedded learning functionality, as we have several project groups and departments, who also see a benefit in a constant exchange of knowledge, especially from their peers. On top the embeded Smarter Paths are guiding all members of the group through content needed to achieve the project goals and ensure if they have questions, they can raise them in the group and know, an expert will respond. We have 40 high qualified engineers focused on innovation. Overall, we want to achieve that internal people spend less time on searching for the right documents and also benefit from peer knowledge, to make their work more effecient. Externally, which is our long-term plan, we want to also be more effective in our communication and learning for our partners. And of course, increasing sales and worldwide footprint.
What is the concrete roadmap?
First, we are going to use the solution in internal groups, especially around our new robotics solutions, which is making us a technology leader in this space. There is a lot to learn and collaborate in an agile way to ensure we get this great technology win world wide market share. SmarterPath gives us a very quick and easy way to put different content in different formats into an intelligent path for people to learn, what other experts have created. We add some didactical features to make for instance the technology content livelier to consume, but do not need to rebuild it in a complex eLearning course. SmarterPath people call this “upcycling” and I like the expression. I believe welding things together is a bit of upcycling as well. Now as I think about it, SmarterPath is actually a bit like welding per se, as it welds individual parts together to create something valuable. The next step is to expand the groups and SmarterPaths to our subsidaries and partners. The challenge at the moment is the right modality to roll out the system in a way so that ABICOR BINZEL people worldwide see immidiately the benefit for themselves by using the system. Luckily our top management supports the introduction.