The year of accelerating – A look ahead at 2018

January 11, 2018 | News Germany

Digital transformation, the platform economy, artificial intelligence – in 2018, these topics will remain at the very top of the agenda for many companies. But anyone who thinks that they have properly done their homework by simply creating a list of technical specifications is sorely mistaken. For quite some time now, the greatest challenge has not been implementing new technologies: it has been dealing with the dynamics underlying the changes ahead. Helping businesses and their employees adjust their way of thinking to this kind of acceleration is going to be management’s number-one task.

“The rules of the digital age have not really made their way into the mindset of most managers just yet,” says Wilhelm Goschy, COO at Staufen. The corporate consultant recently published its German Industry 4.0 Index, in which it demonstrated that not even 20% of managers at German companies anticipate that their own business model will be disrupted within the next two years. “The general fear of disruptive threats is much higher overall, but within the four walls of their own company, people think they are secure and keep clinging to outdated cycles when it comes to innovation and products,” says Staufen COO Goschy.

The highly-regarded future-research specialist Lars Thomsen from the think tank Future Matters has also expressed surprise about the lingering inertia among senior managers: “Maybe it’s because changes take place in little increments every day at every level, so at first these changes are underestimated. But the topic of artificial intelligence alone has three times the momentum of the Internet.” His prediction: “Within a mere ten years, people will be at a point where they would rather spend €20,000 on a private robot than on a new car.”

Comparable levels of upheaval may be seen when it comes to the platform economy. “In many cases, the top dogs in the world of of production technology are the ones staking their claims here. It is rather unlikely, however, that in the future this field will also be dominated by the old giants of the industry as a matter of course,” says Thomas Rohrbach, CEO of Staufen Digital Neonex. “The whole discussion revolves mostly around the topics of the production facilities, efficiency and lowering costs. However, if well-established companies don’t develop new ideas and business models themselves, others will rise to the task,” the digitization expert Rohrbach says. It seems that businesses do not feel enough pressure yet: According to the current Staufen study, eight in ten representatives of the industry believe that platforms are not going to play a part in their work within the next two years. If we look at a five-year timeframe — which is an eternity, digitally speaking — only half share this opinion.

There is no doubt, however, that digital transformation and artificial intelligence will trigger massive upheaval in companies. Furthermore, the general understanding of business, added value and work itself are on the verge of a profound transformation. “These kinds of turbulence are certainly good fodder for triggering major anxiety. But hiding your head in the sand and hoping that these developments will simply pass you by is not a viable approach to the future,” warns Staufen COO Goschy. “Those who want to help shape the process of societal and economic renewal have to wake up from their passivity and approach the task of managing a company as more than simply distributing technical instructions. In the year 2018, management means making your employees fit enough to do two things: react to accelerating changes more effectively, and be able to develop more impetus themselves, which in turn creates more innovative strength.”

About Staufen Digital Neonex GmbH –

Staufen Digital Neonex GmbH is a Staufen AG subsidiary that supports mid-sized manufacturers on the path to digital transformation. In addition to introducing hands-on digital strategies for mid-sized companies, topics such as smart factory, data science and digitalizing product programs or business models are also part of the program. Staufen Digital Neonex does not leave participants to fend for themselves. Uncertainty and possible mistrust are minimized through customized qualification programs. Because Staufen believes that even in a smart factory, it’s the people who make the difference.

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