New digital world.
"The digital transformation is changing the economy and society more drastically than ever before," says Manfred Broy, founding president of the Zentrum Digitalisierung Bayern: "Small and medium-sized businesses must react quickly.
The dramatic effects of the digital transformation can easily be seen in the list of the ten most valuable listed companies in the world. Seven of them are creatures of new technologies, six of them were not even listed there ten years ago. This gives an impression of the tremendous force and incredible speed of change.
It is obvious that start-ups find great opportunities in such a time of upheaval. Anyone who has the appropriate skills in digitisation issues and skilfully picks up on one of the many business ideas has a good chance of leading a newly founded company to success. But what about medium-sized businesses and family-run companies that have been successful in the market for many decades?
Here, too, there are excellent examples of companies that have quickly made friends with the possibilities of digitisation: They have established new forms of sales, created alternative business models that focus less on sales and more on "better service". What used to be offered as a product is now offered as a service. This creates greater flexibility for the customers and at the same time a return flow of usage data to the companies.
Products can become smart, starting with the introduction of smart labels, the integration of embedded systems to the creation of digital twins. This means that customers can find data about the products they use mirrored on the Internet and thus obtain comprehensive information about them. Changes and further developments are also reflected in the network. The result is a natural platform for communication between customers and providers.
Digitalisation can also have a variety of effects within companies: Through the use of virtual development techniques and methods, in manufacturing through digital procedures in production such as 3D printing and customization to individual customer requirements. Aber of course also in distribution through mirroring in digital worlds.
A central task here is the creation of data-driven companies. In essence, this is about determining which data is of high value to the company. And then to answer the question of how this data can be determined, how it can best be managed digitally, which cross-relationships exist and how this data can be used for new forms of management and design.
Because completely new competencies have to be gained for this, the entry into digital transformation is not always easy for medium-sized companies. Often the organisation has to be changed, responsibilities have to be completely reorganised. Therefore, it is essential to build digital literacy. And to understand that this is the transition from the use of information and communication technology not only as an infrastructure, but as a strategic instrument of business development. This requires knowledgeable employees who are determined to tackle the new issues. And therefore also a corporate culture geared to these changed requirements. Cooperative leadership is the key word here.
Digital transformation requires companies to develop a roadmap tailored to their specific needs. Only then is at least a rough planning of the digital transformation over a number of years possible. But it is also important that companies are aware that something as dynamic as digital transformation can hardly be planned in detail over several years. The motto is: Make a plan, but always be prepared to change it at short notice, adapt it to new findings and react to opportunities. Digitization requires above all an alert, conscious control of the company by expert exploitation of the manifold possibilities of the new technologies. ®
Illustration: Tom Cool