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Engineering and Design: Digital and Efficient

The IO maturity level model accompanies firms that engineer their own equipment on the road to digitalization

The IO model assesses maturity levels, acting as a strategic tool that allows companies to plan the road to digital transformation. As part of a collaboration between the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Innovation and Organization and Iodata GmbH, the IO maturity model has been adapted to the special requirements of firms that engineer their own solutions for use in in-house product development.

It goes without saying that digital solutions are now indispensable in engineering and design. For years, the biggest area of application for digital technology has been in generating data in development departments. Despite this, the main emphasis of data generation was to help departments quickly complete engineering projects within their own four walls. With the advent of digital technology across entire companies, this is no longer enough. Companies will need to broaden their focus, and this area will have more of an impact on factors such as the efficiency with which core data is gathered, efficiency across different departments when completing a project, the re-use of modules (and how data is used across multiple projects), and any intrinsic requirements that are necessary by default at later stages.

Using the IO maturity model makes it possible to assess the status quo with the main parties generating data in engineering and design. This helps with planning the envisioned objectives of digital transformation. Drawing on the many years of experience with digitalization projects at the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Innovation and Organization helps organizations ensure data is used consistently across different departments, something that is ultimately essential if they want to dovetail digital business models.

Technologies and change processes come with a price tag, requiring extra resources. Despite this, companies cannot afford to ignore them. The IO maturity model helps companies plan their digitalization strategies with future requirements in mind and thus cut costs. It also makes it easier to choose which of the countless technologies or software solutions to use, allowing businesses to focus more on the trends and developments that have an impact on their own business model. The IO maturity model is also useful for providing important pointers when defining desired outcomes or measures that will need to be introduced to implement digital transformation in keeping with goals. Overall, this allows a business to develop its own digital roadmap, capturing goals, key tasks, and responsibilities. One particular benefit of the IO maturity model is that it provides firms with a point of comparison with its competitors. This helps the business understand its strengths and weaknesses. More importantly perhaps, it helps a company establish a USP and thus strengthen its relationships with key stakeholders.

The Steinbeis consultants act like experienced guides in helping companies on their “digital technology expeditions.” This involves overseeing firms as they systematically set up a base camp so that potential errors are spotted early, and unknown, hitherto unexploited potential is identified. The firms work with Steinbeis as a partner of equals, receiving specific information on their degree of digital maturity, not only in development but also across the company. To do this, there is an online tool that assesses the current situation versus comparable companies. The aim is to pull together activities and initiatives within the business across different disciplines, avoid cost traps, and generate revenues. This paves the way for new business models, which may build on existing models or work disruptively.

The overall idea is to provide straightforward, lean, and inexpensive support with digital transformation – not too much and not too little, at a pace that matches the company’s needs – as a partner of equals, placing emphasis on the kinds of decision-making processes used in business.


Oliver Brehm

Alexandre Pereira

Oliver Brehm is director of the Steinbeis Transfer Center for Innovation and Organization. The enterprise provides management consulting services with an emphasis on product development in the fields of CAD, PLM, and ERP, as well as interdisciplinary topics relating to Industry 4.0. This mainly entails system-independent advice on the projects involving the selection and introduction of new methods and software.

Alexandre Pereira works at Iodata GmbH. Since it was set up by ETL specialists in Karlsruhe in 2000, Iodata has developed into an end-toend provider of business intelligence solutions.


Oliver Brehm
Steinbeis-Transferzentrum Innovation und Organisation (Eislingen)

Alexandre Pereira
Iodata GmbH (Karlsruhe)