Which stumbling blocks hinder the future-oriented digitization of mid-sized businesses in Germany? denkwerk interviewed over one hundred insiders. The result: Digital transformation has long since penetrated the market - but often the claim and the implementation are still too far apart.
Our survey with over one hundred insiders from small, medium and large companies throughout Germany confirms this: German SMEs have digital transformation on their agenda and have locked it into their corporate strategy. 67% of those surveyed consider an overarching digital strategy to be important - but only 41% say they have one. For 69 % of those surveyed, the greatest catalyst for change is when the transformation is spearheaded by bold leadership. On the other hand, only 29% of companies demonstrate a clear stance on digital transformation.
How do the respondents assess the current status of digitization in their companies? And what would an ideal transformation look like? Here, too, there is a wide gap between the actual and ideal situation: 57% of all respondents see the focus primarily on the unique selling point of products and services. On the other hand, only 26% know what attitude they should adopt when communicating internally and externally.
The general consensus: the brand is mostly neglected during digital transformation.
Customers are critical and demand a transparent, clear and often sustainable attitude from companies. Today, companies can only create long-term fidelity and loyalty by these means. Otherwise, the consumers threaten to migrate to the competition. To prevent this, the brand must provide an absolutely strong picture for illuminating the user.
The Staff Members
Digital transformation is enabled via agile processes. Companies have opted for flat hierarchies and want to empower their employees to drive change. But this also means that the workforce can and must make direct decisions in projects.
If the company's attitude to brand values – "hard" economic goals and concrete attitudes vs. economic, social and ecological values – is not clear, employees cannot act as required. The evaluation of our survey shows that they lack support for internal and external communication. This is where brand strategy must provide answers.
The Brand Identity
For consumers, a beautiful brand image is not enough: They expect good products and services that bring the brand to life. It is essential for the digital transformation of a company that the needs of the users* are perfectly addressed by new digital business models. What still fits the brand in this context and develops it in the right direction can only be grasped through a clear identity and attitude.
Carrying the message of transformation to the outside world is now more important than ever. This is the only way to pick up the clientele that is migrating more and more to the digital world. Many companies do not see the link and do not understand why the brand strategy is critical for a successful transformation. At the moment, many companies have separated the transformation from the brand process. The external image is particularly important in the current situation, because consumers are (presumably) less loyal in the digital world and competition is greater.
For the most part, corporate management wants digitization, but apparently the "end in of itself" is taking priority, rather than responding sufficiently to case-by-case requirements. What is really important is forgotten: a brand strategy tailored to the company with an individual approach to digital transformation. Without a specific goal set by management, those tasked with implementation do not feel capable of uniform communication at an internal level - and accordingly have trouble to convey the brand values to the outside world as well.
What can medium-sized companies do about this? Quite simply: They must think according to their brand strategy for a successful transformation.
You can also find more information on the brand strategy tailored to your company in the article "Mittelständler vernachlässigen bei der Digitalisierung die Marke" at Horizont.net.