Keeping mid-sized enterprises part of the race towards the business world of tomorrow – Innovation as a service

June 6, 2018 | News Germany

Despite the fact that the culture of innovation is still enjoying great successes, the topic is gradually becoming an issue of concern within the German industry. Even among major companies, half of the 210 German global market leaders surveyed consider their own innovation process to be rather unprofessional, according to current research conducted by the corporate consultants at Staufen. Whereas larger companies are generally able to take matters into their own hands, smaller and mid-sized enterprises often simply lack the necessary resources to take action. The alternative? “Innovation as a service” (IaaS).

The race to be innovative is now more merciless than it has ever been in industrial history. In this phase of technological transition as companies move toward Industry 4.0, the years ahead will reveal which businesses have what they need to survive. Mid-sized enterprises in particular are often unable to hold their own. They usually lack a structured approach to innovation management, and without this, they will not be able to cope with the accelerated innovation cycles in the digitally driven era.

At many smaller or mid-sized businesses, individual people are often the engines of technological transition, serving as a substitute for well-organized innovation processes. “Often it is the company founders themselves whose ideas propel the company forward for a very long time, or perhaps the company’s technological excellence depends on a single developer,” says Dr. Andreas Romberg, who is head of innovation and product development as a senior partner at Staufen.

If these people are no longer available at some point, the business then loses its forward momentum in terms of innovation. In addition, the breathtaking speed of technological developments means that it is all but impossible for any single person to maintain a good overview of what’s happening on the market. “Companies are not advised to leave their future in the hands of only a few people,” warns innovation expert Romberg. “It makes better sense for them to create a broader foundation for their own R&D activities using structured innovation management.”

Often, however, smaller companies do not have the expertise or resources to implement suitable innovative processes on their own. Innovation as a service (IaaS” allows them to take advantage of external assistance to re-position themselves in the world of innovation. “IaaS is a wide-ranging concept that can be used for many different needs — everything from classic corporate consulting and helping companies establish their own processes and structures all the way to outsourcing innovation services.” For example, an external trend radar lets smaller businesses as well take part in comprehensive market tracking,” as Andreas Romberg from Staufen says of IaaS.

Best Strategy 2018: What global market leaders in Germany do better

For the spring 2018 study entitled “Best Strategy 2018: What global market leaders in Germany do better,” the corporate consultant Staufen surveyed a total of 210 German companies that are global market leaders either in their industry or in their segment.  40% of the companies surveyed are global players with annual sales of over €500 million. Of those who took part in the study, 42% were owners, members of the board or CEOs of their respective businesses; another 38% were department heads. The companies predominantly represented the automotive industry, mechanical and plant engineering, and the electrical industry. A copy of the study (in German) is available by contacting  Kathrin Kurz,


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