„Maximizing customer benefit“. In conversation with Robert Reiss
October 13, 2021
How does it feel to return to BiCA after thirteen years?
I’m no longer the consultant I used to be and BiCA has evolved as well. I am encountering a more innovative and agile environment here than before. Nixdorf is a huge ship. You can achieve a lot there, but it takes time to get projects off the ground. Here, on the other hand, new developments are implemented quickly. Let’s put it this way: I can fully bring agility “onto the road”.
Does that require accelerated speed from everyone?
On the contrary. We are increasingly working with prototypes and regular reviews alongside our customers. After all, expectations and the market situation can change even during the development period. The earlier we get feedback, the more flexible – and ultimately more relaxed – our work becomes.
How does your technological vision relate to your entrepreneurial vision?
The two complement each other. Our owner-managed company has short communicational paths. I grasp the big vision, understand the strategy and implement it along a roadmap with the appropriate technology. After all, the decisive factor is not technological excitement. At the end of the day, it’s about enabling what customers demand and what benefits as many customers as possible.
Speaking of technology: The marketplace is becoming more and more complex. How can you keep up with the today’s development pace?
It is also part of my job to keep my eyes and ears open. And to separate hype from actual opportunities. I read a lot about future technologies. And our team in Silicon Valley also keeps us constantly updated. This team, by the way, equally allows us to try out concrete tools and methods to decide what will get us the best results.
What is it like to work as an Austrian in Germany for a Swiss company and to regularly confer with Palo Alto?
(laughs) I’ve travelled a lot on most continents in years past, which allowed me to better learn to appreciate different sensitivities and national idiosyncrasies. A nice side effect of my Austrian accent consists in many people associating it with the sound of their vacations.
A look into the crystal ball: What will the fuel station of the future look like? Let’s say in ten years?
Of one thing I am certain: e-mobility for fuel stations has only just begun. Scandinavia is for example already significantly further ahead in that regard than Germany. I expect hubs, since the term fuel station no longer really fits. There will still be two pumps with fossil fuel somewhere. But even at the hub, profits won’t come from charging. It will be about bringing customers into the store for 20 or 30 minutes. A restaurant would, for example, also be well-positioned here.
Whereas e-charging would also no longer be the exclusive domain of the hubs.
Correct. The major retailers will also develop concepts that combine parking with charging, for example. In addition, bonus offers will emerge. The critical question remains: how do I keep the customer engaged during any given charging period?
What do you do in your spare time?
I deliberately chose to live in the countryside with my family. There I read a lot. We furthermore used the pandemic times to explore the area around Gutersloh while also doing quite a bit of gardening. Masked vacationing isn’t really our thing.
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