PSI Blog

3 Principles of Successful Business Development and an Industrial App Store

24 Mar 2022 - Technology

Discover, try out, purchase and upgrade software products and services in the PSI App Store. Source: Adobe Stock/WavebreakMediaMicro, edited by PSI
Discover, try out, purchase and upgrade software products and services in the PSI App Store. Source: Adobe Stock/WavebreakMediaMicro, edited by PSI

Time for an initial personal and business summary: I first joined PSI a little over a year ago, in the thick of the lockdown, with responsibility for central product management focusing on the group's own software platform and the App Store. During the last few months, it was mainly technology that connected me with my new colleagues, not just in terms of content, but also in communicating with each other, such as in strategy workshops. There have been and still are some challenges to master, but many things have also become easier. One thing has become clear, however: a change in thinking was required!

The pandemic has inspired us to do a lot of things differently and to try new things. How we:

  • work together with customers,
  • carry out joint projects,
  • hold events,
  • work out issues in online meetings,
  • negotiate purchases, or
  • penetrate new markets in terms of sales.

The acceptance of digital technologies has significantly improved in the wake of the pandemic. This is something we notice in many conversations with our customers and partners. The resulting drive towards digitalization has opened up new sales channels, new markets and higher order volumes. Business-to-business (B2B) companies have benefited from the digital revolution within the sales or procurement context. Customers are also recognizing the value of digital channels, with the topic of B2B e-commerce gaining enormous importance in particular.

The Requirements of Our Customers Take Center Stage

We all experience the constant need to adapt our own business to changing situations. The fulfillment of customer needs is at the center of our attention in this context, because our customers not only expect our software to constantly reflect new business cases or processes and to process the data in ever shorter periods of time. No, it must also ensure that efficiency is increased on the basis of the latest technological developments and that business sustainability is secured. Needless to say, this is done while maintaining the highest security standards.

Many of these changes come across as disruptive. Yet what we are seeing is more of a permanent technological evolution, where technologies and new business opportunities complement each other and assert themselves. It is always a combination of the two and never exclusively a technology or digitalization itself that is disruptive.

We are on the verge of major changes and these not only require courageous leadership, but also smart use of technology in organizations.

It is not just about day-to-day business operations, but also about scrutinizing existing conventions and developing a new vision for the future of the company.

The most successful companies have been quick to adapt to new circumstances and have become innovators and shapers of the digital transformation:

Principle 1: Successful Companies Satisfy the Fundamental Needs of Their Customers

The most successful companies undertake a variety of measures to identify and meet the needs of their customers at an early stage. I have learned from the product managers in the PSI business units that having a passion for our customers' industries and in-depth process knowledge is the foundation for our product management and ultimately our success.

This can be seen, for example, in the fact that we work closely with pilot customers during the development of new products, since this ensures that the products are marketable right from the start. Many common features can be identified even across many industries and application cases, which we not only incorporate into the core requirements of the market products, but also into the generic products of the PSI software platform.

Combining Maximum Flexibility With Long-Term Investment Security

It is becoming increasingly important for our customers and partners to be faster, more efficient and more intelligent than the competition and to constantly adapt to changing market conditions.

The decision in favor of software that combines maximum flexibility with long-term investment security is becoming the decisive factor for success.

Maximum flexibility and rapid usability of the software through

  • direct availability in all conventional cloud environments,
  • easy adaptability with graphical tools,
  • support for any workstations and end devices as well as
  • customization possibilities during the runtime.

Achieving Success With Key Figures in Planning and Optimization

The topics of planning and optimization with respect to various key performance indicators (KPIs) are also important for long-term success. In addition to business KPIs concerning costs, productivity or quality, this increasingly includes KPIs on the sustainability of business processes and employee satisfaction. Examples can be found in numerous industries:

  • Supporting the structural shift to low-CO2 production, especially in the steel industry.
  • The optimization of automotive assembly sequences, through which 10 to 20 % productivity improvement can be achieved.
  • The use of artificial intelligence in logistics, which can result in an increase in efficiency of over 10 %.
  • Significant sustainability effects with optimized charging management for electric vehicles and in the management of electricity grids through precise feed forecasts and the ascertainment of optimal switching measures.

The issues of efficiency and sustainability based on artificial intelligence, i.e. being able to make better decisions more quickly, round off the most important strategic needs of our customers and partners.

Our world is rapidly evolving and so are the expectations of our customers. If companies intend to continue offering real added value and solving their customers' problems, then they have to rethink their products and services. This is particularly true for addressing basic needs, but also for how customers can easily buy or upgrade products and services themselves.

Average proportion of products and/or services that are either partially or fully digitized, in percentage. Source: PSI chart, McKinsey & Company data
Average proportion of products and/or services that are either partially or fully digitized, in percentage. Source: PSI chart, McKinsey & Company data

The COVID 19 crisis has accelerated the digitalization of customer and supply chain interactions by three to four years [] - all achieved in just a few months. Companies have to be able to do business with their customers increasingly digitally in order to remain competitive.

Principle 2: Successful Companies Make Things as Easy as Possible for Their Customers

Major advances have been made in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce over the past decades. Nowadays, they are the norm. The internet has unleashed several revolutions, from new sales platforms through to the unlimited availability of information. Individual shoppers can now search, find and purchase anything they want, when and where they want, at the best possible price, all from their smartphone.

The Revolution in B2B Sales

B2B sales appears to be less revolutionary in comparison. But looks can be deceiving, because in some aspects B2B sales was already much more developed. The first pioneering subscription business models can definitely be attributed to B2B. Salesforce and Adobe, for example, geared their business models towards this early on. Furthermore, B2B customers and suppliers have been working together for a long time now: from advisory sales to joint product development through to all kinds of sales and after-sales support.

Yet technological progress in the form of digitalization, connectivity and virtualization holds enormous potential to further transform B2B sales. It is in the throes of transformation and the most important issue is how easy and fast the sales process is for the customer. Some companies are ahead of the competition in meeting these challenges because of their technological prowess.

To this end, generational change is having an impact on customer behavior. Millennials now represent the most important customer group [] in the B2B sector and account for up to 73 % of the market. As a result, providers are expected to be online and to offer their customers personalized experiences, ideally supported by artificial intelligence. As part of the omnichannel strategy, online presence is a prerequisite for making products and services accessible at all relevant contact points.

Success Through B2B Self-Service

The interaction of all sales channels on the one hand and the seamless and simple structuring of the customer journey on the other are crucial. If you really want to take the issue of self-service for customers and partners seriously, certain products need

  • a digital-only approach,
  • an appropriate go-to-market strategy and
  • a digital marketplace.

Self-service portals constitute an important part of a win-win strategy with which they not only improve the customer experience, but also optimize their internal processes and reduce the workload of sales staff. This allows them to focus more on complex business transactions. Furthermore, sustainable customer initiatives are becoming more and more influential, e.g. in supporting customers in their shopping.

Simple, Easier, App Store

Motivated by the notion of simplifying things even more for our customers and partners, we have developed an App Store based on our own software platform. This Industrial App Store serves as an online marketplace where customers and partners around the world can discover, try out, purchase or upgrade an initial range of software products and services from PSI, both within and across different industries. The desired application is available for trial or unrestricted use after just a few clicks. On request, a free webinar can of course also be booked to help you get started.

Get the application you want with just a few clicks in the PSI App Store. To try out or for un-limited use. Source: PSI
Get the application you want with just a few clicks in the PSI App Store. To try out or for un-limited use. Source: PSI

The same approach also benefits our partner companies, who wish to preview a new upgrade and try out the new functionalities. We have developed a customer journey together with our customers and partners so that we can constantly gather experience and gradually expand the possibilities in the PSI App Store. Following a successful test, our customers are able to purchase the application directly in the store and have it delivered to whatever environment they require, whether in the cloud or on-premise.

PSI App Store 2021 Facts. Source: iStock.Com/PeopleImages, edited by PSI
PSI App Store 2021 Facts. Source: iStock.Com/PeopleImages, edited by PSI

After gaining experience with many prototypes among a small circle of customers in 2021, we opened the App Store to an expanded circle of partners and customers in early 2022. We are planning to launch a collaboration platform this year, which will be closely linked to the PSI App Store, so that we can further simplify cooperation and the exchange of knowledge in everyday business. Not only will we offer a wealth of knowledge about our software products there, but also additional functionalities that are important in the operational business and that round off the service for our products.

Principle 3: Successful Companies Build a Platform or Are Part of It

B2B platforms, which are referred to as the new marketplaces for companies, are changing how businesses collaborate. These platforms facilitate new ways of connecting market participants and creating new business models. Platforms are built on a shared and interoperable technological infrastructure, powered by data, and characterized by the interaction of multiple stakeholders.

The Basis for Industrial Issues of the Future

In order to overcome the challenges of a digital and sustainable world, we have developed an industrial application platform that serves as a technology base for our global customers and partners so that they can create sustainable value for their business at an accelerated pace.

We have also invested in future topics at an early stage. These include new digital business models in energy distribution, sector coupling to support the energy transition or decentralized, autonomous manufacturing structures. This allows our customers to achieve a greater digital transformation of their business processes and opens up new potential for growth.

Tools for Efficient and Sustainable Business Development

As part of this, we have expanded the PSI software platform to include multicloud technology and an app store. Intuitive tools such as workflow management and PSI Click Design will allow us to offer customers and partners a modern Application-Platform-as-a-Service (APaas) from any desired cloud environment.

We bring people, companies and technology together in the PSI world to form a value creation network. Source: PSI
We bring people, companies and technology together in the PSI world to form a value creation network. Source: PSI

It is about more than just providing software for us: we support our customers and partners in achieving the full efficiency and sustainability opportunities for their business and scaling them with innovation. It is our belief that our PSI world is the intersection of people, information, processes and technologies creating a value network. It gives our customers and partners access to a wide range of software products and services across a wide range of industries.

Pioneers Must Also Be Leaders in Technology

The rapid pace of digitalization has turned technology into an essential component of global market leadership, something we want to continue to focus on. The recently launched Industrial App Store is another building block in this strategy:

Sneak peek PSI App Store

Andreas Duve

Head of Platform Marketing and Partner Business, PSI Software AG

Andreas Duve has been with PSI since 2021. His work focuses on the big questions of technology and change. In particular, how these can best be leveraged for business.