Geraldine Kraev, how do you assess the importance of the Swiss ICT industry for the Swiss export economy?
The Swiss ICT industry is an important driver for the export industry. On the one hand, it delivers valuable applications that can benefit almost all industries and increase their productivity at home and abroad; on the other, the ICT industry itself is a successful export industry. According to the latest figures, companies in the Swiss ICT sector exported goods and services worth over 19.5 billion Swiss francs in 2016. With an export turnover of 13.1 billion Swiss francs, the continuously growing ICT service sector remains the fifth most important service export group in Switzerland.
How do you assess the innovative strength of the Swiss ICT industry compared to other countries?
In general, Swiss companies are characterized by their unparalleled innovativeness. Switzerland has topped the ranking of the Global Innovation Index for several years now. The Swiss ICT industry can also hold its own internationally. With its strong ecosystem, its attractive proposition for international talent and leading developments in specific fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML), Switzerland stands out and makes an important contribution.
“Swissness” is still a sales argument, as it always has been.
What are currently the biggest challenges facing Swiss ICT companies who want to enter the international stage?
For a business to be successful, it is absolutely vital that it knows the added value of its product or service and that it communicates and positions it accordingly in the international environment. Swiss products are often regarded as expensive, so it is all the more important to indicate the added value to customers. Potential customers need to understand what sets the product apart from the competition and why the investment is worthwhile. To achieve this, companies need to intensively get to grips with the target market, potential customers and competitors.
To what extent does “Swissness” contribute as a factor of success or failure?
Products with “Swissness” have an international reputation: they’re regarded as high-quality and innovative. The label is still a sales argument, as it always has been. However, as I already said, Swiss products are often associated with higher prices. Swiss companies must communicate and position their unique selling point; the “Swissness” factor alone is not enough for internationalization to be successful.
How does S-GE support Swiss ICT companies on the world market?
We complement companies' strategies and accompany them into new markets by providing market information and expertise, helping them to find business partners or informing them about legal and cultural conditions. We also regularly organize events or business trips to make companies aware of business potential and help them to network quickly and effectively. We are currently planning our presence at the Singapore Fintech Festival. We’re organizing a SWISS Pavilion there so that Swiss fintech companies can present their products and services and network under the Switzerland umbrella brand. We will also be represented with a SWISS Pavilion at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2019. For companies that are not exhibiting at the fair but would like to visit it, we are organizing a business trip to Las Vegas and Silicon Valley. Companies can find an overview of our activities on our website.