Lecture on the subject of digitization

On Monday, the 9th of April, we could welcome Mr. Rhomberg of the Emil Frey in the house of Prettl. Mr. Rhomberg is the Chief Digital Officer of the Emil Frey Group, responsible for digitization.


The Emil Frey Group is a Swiss group of companies active mainly in the automotive trade. The company was founded in 1924 by Emil Frey and is today, Europe's largest automotive retailer, with operations in whole Europe, also includes a number of companies that provide automotive, finance, insurance and, in future, digital solutions for the automotive trade.

Today, the group faces new challenges in the value chain, putting pressure on traditional retailing. As more and more vehicle manufacturers change their distribution model and act as dealers over the Internet or as mobility service providers, as well as new players hit the market such as Amazon, Alibaba or Uber, the old-established vehicle dealers are forced to new strategies and differentiation to the new competition. The influencing factors such as customer needs, technology, politics and digitization play a key role here. While politics are pushing for alternative drives, customer needs are increasingly driven by comfort and service. This massively changes the industry. While e.g. in the past, customers were informed by the retailer 7 times in advance of a purchase of a vehicle, today it is only 1.5 times before they order a vehicle. Likewise, electric vehicles, for example, today require 70% less service and maintenance than classic vehicles with internal combustion engines. Which requires new strategies and concepts in order to be able to serve and retain customers closely and comprehensively.

In order to meet these requirements and set itself apart from new players and manufacturers, the Emil Frey Group is consistently focusing on a digitization strategy, in particular in customer loyalty, the optimization of business processes and the new "Internet" marketplace. Hr. Rhomberg realized that at the beginning of the path to a "digital" company, there must be a goal from which the strategy and then the measures must be derived. For this purpose, the Emil Frey Group has built up the team in the past 12 months to a higher double-digit number of employees (including software developers), which from the headquarters all digitization projects control for example an employee app, a customer app or even a service app. Customer loyalty is further intensified and accelerated via digital channels, or administrative processes are optimized in such a way that resources are freed up for individual customer support. As another small example, Hr. Rhomberg centralized the input of vehicle data via its own software solution, which saves 11 minutes of input time per vehicle and quickly generated huge added value with hundreds of thousands of vehicles sold.


Most important perceptions on the topic of digitization (according to Mr. Rhomberg):

  • Digital development brings change, but it also offers opportunities
  • Always think from the customer's point of view
  • Know/ Identify the customer at an early stage
  • Serve the customer
  • Involve employees – motivate them – train them to digital professionals
  • Experimental approach: Ideas → test → measure → improve → introduce
  • Abandon silo mentality, it inhibits cooperation, increases costs, impedes progress
  • Shaping the future without endangering the proven


Wolfgang Gross