The middle class in the German-speaking area has a massive image problem. According to a study conducted by Springer Professional among consumers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the most common attribute associated with medium-sized companies is down-to-earth. The more than three million small and medium-sized companies, on the other hand, are not expected to be innovative.
This is certainly an image problem – because 1700 medium-sized companies are regarded as so-called hidden champions. They are world market leaders in their niche – but nobody knows them outside their market segment. On the other hand, studies on the lack of penetration of new technologies in SMEs follow week after week. The digital transformation has hardly been understood, let alone started. Disruptive changes are shied away like the devil shuns holy water. And artificial intelligence is something for crackpots.
That is the common opinion. However, one has to judge the middle class in a more differentiated way:
The hidden champions are at the top of their industry. They leave a clear impression. Their trace is easy to read – like the tip of a pencil. But it can only maintain this precision if it is regularly “sharpened”, if its lead is continuously retreaded, if the rotten wood is planed off. The tip changes, but remains the same on the outside.
Then there is the group of hesitants. It is presented through the shaft and waits until the tip approaches them. It is a typical behaviour pattern of medium-sized companies that they wait with the introduction of new technologies until others have made their experiences, until – to stay in the picture – the top of the new technologies has rubbed and abraded. Only then do they take the lead.
However, there is also the group that is illustrated by the end of the pencil: the group of erasers who want to undo every innovation. They undo what others have visionarily built up. The erasers only work when the pencil is turned over, when everything is reversed and the gaze is turned backwards.
Be top not blunt! We at actesy have 30 years of experience with innovation projects. We have seen how the introduction of an ERP system was taken as an opportunity to rethink everything, how new business processes, even new business models were visionarily developed, to which the business software was then tailored. That is quite risky.
We have seen how the introduction of enterprise software has been misused to re-create the old. As consultants, it is difficult to prevent employees from using the new software to revive only the old processes – preferably with the old screen masks in black and white!
We have drawn the conclusion that innovation must be simpler, less risky – and, above all, forward-looking. This is why we have developed the actesy Metadata Framework, which makes it easier for companies to develop new applications and link them to existing solutions. Connecting Digital Worlds – that is the goal we have set ourselves at actesy. Because we want the middle class to remain down-to-earth without giving up the joy of innovation.
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