What keeps me busy

Michael Loechle

Michael Loechle

In 2014, ABB announced its “Next Level” strategy, which set key targets for 2020, focusing on profitable growth, relentless execution and business-led collaboration.

The company is going through a group-wide transformation, which includes increased set-up of shared service centers, higher standardization of processes and applications and higher presence in low cost countries.

On part of this transformation is the white-collar productivity programme (WCP) which will help ABB to become leaner, faster, more agile and customer-focused.

The programme will deliver savings of 1,3 billion USD by the end of 2017. Information Systems is an important part of the overall programme.

In the past, ABB has taken an extreme decentralized approach towards business processes and applications. A scattered application landscape coupled with a significant lack of standardization with too many ERPs, PLMs and a highly complex organization is the result of it. The new strategy, in the light of WCP, is going to change this decentralized approach significantly. ABB has introduced Domains which will apply a standardized approach across Divisions. Apart from the classic Corporate Domains like Finance, HR and Legal also Domains like Sales & Marketing, Supply Chain, Project Management, Services and Research are part of the standardization efforts. The entire demand, the project portfolio and the associated budget will be managed centrally in the future. The global business engagement function ensures the professional relationship management with all the key stakeholder at Senior-level. This requires a profound knowledge of the business processes as well as credibility at Senior-level within ABB’s businesses. It is part of my role to set-up this organization from scratch and to make it work.

Technology plays a big role in shaping ABB’s business, including the solutions it designs for its customers and its internal management systems. ABB drives digitalization in the power and automation parts of its business. This is twofold. On the one hand, ABB enables its customers for digitalization e.g. Robotics and process automation. On the other hand, ABB needs to digitalize itself. This is a more internal process where IT will be playing a key role.

Now, this is where the challenge comes. On one side, IT needs to make the current “elephant” faster, more agile and cheaper. But still huge SAP instances, complex system landscapes, waterfall development methods and process and procedures with all the compliance requirements associated with it.

On the other side, more agile methodologies are required. The demand from the businesses on digitalization comes full speed bottom-up. Very little patience if IT cannot deliver on time.

In a nutshell – the challenge is to transform IT into the digital age while still running the old staff in a reliable way. We are talking about running a huge IT which serves more than 130’000 people within ABB.