It is of no question that we are right in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution and that today’s digitization means an epochal change to our economic systems. On one hand that leads to insecurity and future issues. But let me focus on the positive aspects only: digitization provides great chances – but only for those willing to face it head on.
There are countless digital developments that will have their big break-through in the coming years. Here are just some examples that we can all relate to: Automated driving is already a reality; autonomous driving is just a matter of time. 3D-printing systems already substitute productions, AI turned from science-fiction to assisting us in our everyday lives. Machine learning will lead to massive production growth. All in all: Our working and private lives will change dramatically as a result of digital technology.But since socio-economic and technological changes usually go hand in hand, this revolution is not only about technological, but also about structural and systemic changes in the economy and society.
Disruption happens when existing structures are no longer able to process new evolutions. (see article “disruption for dummies”).
Further examples of branches undergoing disruption are:
1. Our economic system is turning into a giant data room, and the smart processing of data decides about entrepreneurial success and failure. Trends like cloud computing, the Internet of Things and blockchain will all lead to hyper connectivity.
2. Human capabilities are being replaced by robotics and automatization, not only in the sectors of consulting or decision making, but also jobs like bus drivers, taxi drivers and a lot more are affected.
3. The diversity of new technologies not only shortens innovation and development cycles, but also forces companies into a permanent and complex mode of modernization and change.
That might seem a lot to handle, but there are significant reasons for being optimistic about the future. Our motto is:
Even global corporations are not able to master the challenges of the digital age on their own, so why should we assume smaller ones could? The big advantage of Germany is its medium-sized economy. That means we can all cooperate, collaborate and interconnect. As a result this should lead us to joint innovation processes, integrated value creation cores, initiatives and clusters in various industries and regions. One could say that this is the substance and the network which builds the foundation for a successful digital future: Ecosystems as design spaces for our future economic activity.
This network economy makes a virtue out of the diversity of participants such as start-ups, medium-sized companies and large companies across industry boundaries.
In cooperative spaces such as networked value creation systems, co-development with universities, start-up accelerators or open innovation laboratories, established and new companies can combine proven expert knowledge and digital pioneering spirit for joint digital innovations. The great benefit here lies in the cultural and technological differences that becomes a fundamental and common resource in the eco-systems. In addition, not only will their own weaknesses be compensated, but digitalization will be compensated and turned into opportunities.
This kind of forced cooperation for innovations, new markets and approaches also requires cultural learning and change in order to successfully combine the different perspectives, working methods and interests. Here is where we stand right now, we are certain that the opportunities for the German economy are good – to take on a leading role in the disruptive phase of digitization in conjunction with proven virtues and new technologies and methods.