open Think Tank – Digital Emerging Market Switzerland

by Veronika Altenbach

19. November 2020 6 minutes

As a guest at the IBAW (Institute for Professional Training and Further Education), we had the opportunity to hold an «open Think Tank» webinar in cooperation with abc Campus on November 4th, 2020, focusing on the topic of Switzerland as a digital emerging market.

The «open Think Tank» events are designed to address conceptual approaches, process models and best practices on various topics. Together we will look at facts and possibilities, suggestions and ideas, which will then be discussed in a plenary session.

The event was moderated by Iwan Müller (abc Campus) while we dived into the topics together with Frank Drews (abc Campus).

After a short introduction session, the speakers Frank Drews (abc Campus) and Kevin Lang (brix IT Solutions GmbH) specifically pointed out the provocative title, which was also the transition to the topic «digitization».

Research on the topic of digitization led to a study by IMD (Institute for Management Development). For the 4th time in a row, the IMD conducted a survey called «Digital Competitiveness Ranking». Contrary to our statement, Switzerland was ranked 6th out of 63 participating countries. The study primarily evaluates knowledge, technology and sustainability relating to digitization.

So why do we call Switzerland a digital emerging market?

Is digital transformation a megatrend?

One thesis argues that the digital transformation, which is now on everyone's lips, follows only one trend.

To pursue this thesis, the following terms should first be analyzed:

  • Digitization the identification and exploitation of potentials that result from digital technology.
  • Digital transformation refers to a change process within a company triggered by digital technologies.
  • Trends are long-term developments with high relevance that can be extended into the future.

Among the best known trends are buzzwords like: Globalization, Industry 4.0, Connectivity and many more. 

Within which context are these definitions related to each other?

To answer this question, there was a short excursion to the Golden Circle by Simon Sinek

  • The Golden Circle is a concept that says: People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

In other words, what is the vision of a company, where do I want to go (goal), which path (strategy) do I choose and what do I need (operational) to make the strategy work? 

After all we now know, the question arises: Is digital transformation an end in itself or is it a tool to implement our visions, goals and strategies?

Driven by the idea that digital transformation is a megatrend, it turns out that we blindly follow this trend to remain marketable as a company.

This leads us to the conclusion that in Switzerland the tools (tools, systems, etc.) are the focus of attention, whereas in other countries leading in digitalization, the focus is on the goal and the strategy.

Digitization goal or method?

A second thesis states that digital strategies and automated processes have already been established in companies, but that these pursue individual goals and are not coordinated with one another. If one were to look at the big picture and combine these individual strategies and processes, there would be a lot of profitable and time-saving potential.

What is the situation regarding digitalization and business processes among the participants of the open think tank?

Kevin asked the participants the following two questions in which they should rate between 1 and 10:

  • Where do companies currently stand regarding the digitization of their business processes?
    • 1 = we have not yet digitized our business processes
    • 10= our business processes are already digitalized
  • How important is the topic of digitization within the company?
    • 1 = we have not yet dealt with this topic digitization
    • 10= we are already in the middle of it and can already register first successes

The feedback of the participants reflected the results of a recent study. This clearly shows that digitization is considered significant, while the effective implementation of digital business processes is lacking. An even lower value is shown by the point common strategy. Here you can clearly see that there is rarely a common goal between the two segments of digitization and business process management. This can lead to the result of a digitization initiative not meeting expectations.

If you digitize a crappy process, then you have a crappy digital process.

Thorsten Dirks, CEO of Telefonica Deutschland

Therefore, it is important to question the processes before digitizing them. However, since you barely can see the forest because of all the trees, it is advisable to get help from experts who can look at the whole thing neutrally and from a different perspective.

Furthermore, it has been found that digitization is often associated with the introduction of a new system, but this is only a part of it. The automation of the related workflows should not be neglected here.

To reduce future inconsistencies, companies are now beginning to place more emphasis on IT at the executive level in the form of the CIO (Chief Information Officer).

All this leads repeatedly to the same conclusions. Digitization should not be seen as a tool or trend, or in other words as a goal or method, but rather as a combination of all these aspects.

With this summary, the moderators led the way to an open discussion.