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5 Questions With Manja Kochannek

12 April 2023
Ida Lorenz
Manja Kochannek is IT Director at Messe Frankfurt GmbH since 2020. Her career with the trade fair, congress, and event organizer began in 1999, initially in sales, and has continued in IT since 2011. The corporate group, with a sales network of 30 subsidiaries, operates in 188 countries worldwide. Manja Kochannek is responsible for IT Architecture, Data & CRM for the Frankfurt location and the subsidiaries. In the summer of 2018, Parsionate started supporting the team of Messe Frankfurt GmbH around the topics of data management and data quality.
Portrait Manja Kochannek
How do you assess the status of digital transformation in your industry?

All trade fair organizers are striving to drive digitalization forward. This ranges from digital platforms for customers to more automation in processes. Because of Corona, the trade show industry has been significantly impacted. Our core business has been at a standstill, and many companies have tried digital formats to stay in touch with customers and offer digital services to bridge the gap. Some of it worked, but some lasted only a short time. What has remained is an awareness that physical events continue to be demanded by industries and that digital add-on formats and services are here to stay. According to this, the positive outcome of Corona is accelerating these developments toward more digital offerings.

How is the digital transformation changing processes in your company?

Digitization of processes has initially increased complexity in many places because processes and data were originally simply digitalized without being standardized. In other words, a process that didn't run smoothly in analog before doesn't run any better digitally. It took some time for this realization to mature. Meanwhile, many measures have been taken to standardize processes and data and to create major responsibilities for data and architectures. In some places, awareness is growing that digitization does not make things more efficient, save costs, or offer more sales opportunities, but in other places, it will likely take a while.

Do you think that a sophisticated data governance can be a competitive advantage?

My experience over the last 3 years is that everyone sees data governance as necessary, but the term and concept behind it is perceived as enormous and overwhelming. And yet, data governance is already lived in many areas; it's simply not labeled that way. Sometimes it takes guidance, a clear definition of responsibilities, and a recognition that data, when clearly defined and captured in a standardized way across the group, adds value to many processes and improves outcomes. We seek to leverage and build on these existing structures. Data governance helps to create a framework and can thus have a positive impact on competitive advantage.

How do leaders get their team excited about data management projects?

I look for people in my company who tell me passionately about data problems and want to solve them. Involving these individuals in analyzing the problem and finding a solution has two effects: First, they can proudly report that they have uncovered and solved a data problem. Secondly, they carry this story into the company and raise awareness among colleagues. These are the best multipliers for data management. Data management is perceived by many as a boring discipline until that moment when they have been involved and successfully solved problems, enforced data quality measures successfully, etc.

What impact does a sustainable data strategy have on your customers?

My vision would be that we don't ask customers for the same information repeatedly but instead recognize what data we already have, what data we already buy from external sources, and ask customers for exactly what we need more so that we can then offer customers immediate added value. Along the way, it was essential for us in data management to sustainably improve data quality, standardize data, and thus increase the value of any data we have. Customers will notice this immediately because offers will become more personalized, and they won't be "blasted" with the same questions year after year. Instead, they will realize that we already know them.

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