Buzzwords such as metaverse are not just Silicon Valley hype, but also the question of how to involve employees in a company in this digital transformation, especially against the backdrop of remote working. plazz AG has a solution for this The Erfurt-based company started in 2012 with the development of a mobile event app to digitally accompany events.
An employee app called Polario.app will now bridge the gap to communication within the company.
We talk in an interview with Jürgen Mayer, CEO of plazz AG, and Stefan Heinz, who as Chief Product Officer is in charge of “Design and Conception”.
Mr. Mayer, how did you come to plazz AG?
Jürgen Mayer: I joined the company in 2010 and reorganized the company and refocused it on the topic of “apps”. The size of Erfurt is ideal and we have several universities right on our doorstep, which makes the Thuringian state capital very attractive as a location, especially since it was already known at the time that the new ICE line would be launched at some point.
Currently, our Erfurt team comprises almost 50 permanent employees. We still have a location in Munich, but our headquarters are in Erfurt’s Bahnhofstrasse. Since 2012, we have been able to successfully surf along on several waves — on the one hand, the digital transformation of companies, but in the wake of the Corona pandemic, we also reacted and expanded our solution to include virtual and hybrid events with video streaming and video conferencing, and now we are benefiting from remote work.
How did it start?
Jürgen Mayer: We decided to develop an event app based on a no-code system. This means that our customers can administer everything themselves. We are the extended workbench and are available with our experts. This was still uncharted territory at the time. Today, the term “no code” is in vogue, but we were one of the first providers in Germany with a concrete offer.
Stefan Heinz: At that time, we had received an increasing number of inquiries from companies that needed an app for their event — preferably within two weeks. But app development takes a long time and is, above all, expensive. At the time, we were building an app for the Weimar Economic Forum. This gave rise to the idea of developing a product from the product, which we can reuse. This is how the software service approach came about, which we have continued to work on.
What was your first experience with the app?
Stefan Heinz: Digitization was the headline above everything at that time. But you have to imagine that 12 years ago, customers didn’t even have the experience with such apps. This means that for the customer we were working for, this was new territory. We picked up our customers by providing advice and service, but were also on site at the events. For example, we checked whether the connection of the online voting on the cell phone to the screen technology worked so that the charts were displayed on stage. That was an experimental time.
Jürgen Mayer: No comparison to today! Nowadays, the customer has already gained experience and Corona, of course, was also an accelerator of this development.
What has the Corona pandemic done to you?
Stefan Heinz: From a product development perspective, the pandemic was an opportunity. Previously, an event app was a digital extra, so to speak. However, everything that was to take place during the Corona period had to be done digitally. So our app went from being a medium to the central platform of an event. The focus was suddenly set differently, which was a great market opportunity for us.
Jürgen Mayer: First and foremost, we benefited from the Corona pandemic, although downstream we are currently also feeling the consequences of the pandemic. Employees have become accustomed to working remotely. We can no longer get colleagues into the office five days in a row. That’s not a problem either, but it does create new challenges in terms of how skilled workers nevertheless identify with a company. The high demand for IT workers is also putting a strain on us in terms of recruiting new employees.
You have developed a solution for this as well. What can the new product do?
Jürgen Mayer: Companies need to provide tools that enable better employee communication. So we have also taken up this issue and offer an app for employees. We have companies in our portfolio that have 3,500 employees who receive daily push messages with the latest news from the site using our solution. However, this is not only interesting for colleagues who work in the home office, but also for employees who do not work in front of the computer in the office. You can also reach these people in production and the like better with such apps.
Stefan Heinz: The advantage of our no-code solution is that we don’t have to arrange with an IT department to create complicated interfaces. Our product is easy to connect and adapt within two hours. The future admins in the company then receive 60 minutes of training and can then operate the app completely independently.
How could the bm|t support this?
Jürgen Mayer: As a shareholder, bm|t is close to us through its seat on our supervisory board. We are also always very happy to attend the Thuringian Investor Days to support the bm|t event with our event solution. We are already very much looking forward to Investor Days 2023.
Thank you very much for the interview!
You can find more information about the company at www.plazz.ag