Digital Acadamy – A universal training programme for a new era

Digitalisation offers opportunities for enhanced quality of life, revolutionary business models and more efficient economic activity. In the Digital Academy, the TÜV NORD GROUP is using its own resources to advance the cause of digital transformation in the Group – the model might well also set a precedent for other companies.


Taxi service provider Uber is turning the taxi business on its head; Amazon is mounting a serious challenge to traditional retailers; 3-D printing is replacing material-intensive processes in production; and machinery equipped with sensors is now setting its own maintenance schedule. There’s no doubt about it: the digital transformation is in full flow. It is opening up new opportunities for industry nearly every day and bringing about radical changes to business models. All over the world, ever larger numbers of people are taking advantage every single day of the benefits offered by the digital transformation.

The TÜV NORD GROUP, too, has teamed up its specialists with others who are also brimming with curiosity. Their task is to launch a critical review, questioning every aspect of what the digital future of the company might look like, and to come up with proposals to boost performance, quality and safety. The Digital Academy was launched in 2017 to accelerate the process and ensure that what is decided upon as a result actually happens. This is a Group-wide project intended to support all the business units in the Group in their digital transformation and to act as a network between the business units, thereby ensuring that they can benefiit from synergy potentials. About 250 managers and influencers were informed directly of the concept behind the Digital Academy.

Developing products digitally

At the same time, a three-month period of full-time training was launched to qualify selected staff as digital experts. “The training concept covers digitalisation expertise and a methodology for the digital transformation of existing and new products and services as well as tools for personal development tailored to our needs,” reports Melanie Braunschweig. The Data protection / IT and electrical engineering product manager at the TÜV NORD Akademie is one of the 12 digital experts. Once the training was over, the digital experts went back to their business units, where they are now actively promoting the transformation process. The special thing about the training programme of the Digital Academy is this: it is so readily customisable that it is also of interest to other sectors, adds Elisabeth Terodde, Director of Corporate Strategy and Organisational Development. “One of the aims is to use our own resources to continue to develop products digitally and to generate innovations for new business models.”

“A real plus for all those concerned. Thanks to digitalisation we can automatically evaluate surveys and send certificates.”

Melanie Braunschweig, product manager

The Digital Transformation isn’t making people redundant. Instead of taking people’s jobs away, the idea is to relieve them of routine tasks. “People and machines will be working side-by-side in the future and interacting with each other. And this is exactly where we see the potential for the future,” confirms Dr Reinhard Geissbauer, head of Industry 4.0 EMEA in the strategic consultancy division of PricewaterhouseCoopers. And, in his “Future Report 2017”, trends and future researcher Matthias Horx expresses his conviction that robots and smart machines are not going to replace people. “But the kind of work people do will shift more strongly to things that only people can do, like managing complex tasks.”

Exams are the next step

One of the pilot projects which fits in with this picture is one in which Melanie Braunschweig is playing an important role, digital exams. Ever larger numbers of companies are, for example, taking occupational health and safety, quality and environmental protection seriously, and they now need more staff with proven expertise tailored specifically to their respective functions within the organisation. Proof of the skills of these members of staff can be provided through individual certification. The test for this certification currently still follows a traditional format: the participants fill in questionnaires in writing, and the completed questionnaires are put through two rounds of review. If they are successful, they receive their certificates 14 days after the test. Once the entire process has been digitalised, the future will look like this: “Once the individual questionnaires have been processed by computers, the system will immediately report whether the test has been passed or not. The certificate will then automatically be sent as a PDF to the participant’s personal e-mail address,” says product manager Ms Braunschweig. A real plus for all those concerned.

Virtual car sharing scheme will save costs and reduce CO₂ emissions

Another of the numerous projects addresses the issue of mobility. Many of the roughly 8,000 employees of TÜV NORD in Germany take the train, or use a company car or their own private vehicle to travel between the Group’s three principal sites (Hamburg, Hanover and Essen). “The railway tickets alone are a huge drain on the company budget,” reveals Melanie Braunschweig. The expert team is planning an app which will work as a virtual car sharing scheme, helping reduce costs and CO₂ emissions. “A survey of our colleagues showed that most of them would support this project,” Ms Braunschweig says.

The Digital Academy isn’t, of course, a fly-by-night affair. After the test phase it will go into full operation and gradually make the TÜV NORD GROUP and its customers fit for the future.