Digitalization changes products as well as businessmodels

With the right strategy, Swiss SMEs will take part in the success of a digitalized economy. PwC Switzerland, strategic partner of S-GE, is helping to lay the foundation.

Digitalization changes products as well as businessmodels

Digitalization has to form part of the strategy

PwC is facing the digital transformation of the economy and industry. And is undergoing a change itself in the process. “We are developing new expertise for our customers so that we can provide optimal advice,” says Julie Fitzgerald, Growth & Markets Leader and member of the Management Board of PwC Switzerland. In the back office, conventional administrative tasks are being increasingly digitalized. “A simple example is the accounts department. Web accounting is helping us to become more efficient.” Their strategy is apparent: Start in the front end, i.e. digitalize products and services, and then the back end for the internal processes in the company.

Excessive perfectionism an impediment

Fitzgerald primarily sees opportunities when she talks about Industry 4.0. The basis for success is the courage to change and the willingness take risks. Perfection can sometimes be an impediment: “In the digital world, what counts is speed. We should take a page here from our U.S. colleagues: More trial and error!,” says Fitzgerald. When comparing the innovative capacity of Swiss SMEs in international business, she says: “The willingness is there. But SMEs often reach their financial limits when it comes to implementing their strategy.” With the right calculation, achieving new successes from opportunities: for Fitzgerald, a trained electrical engineer, those are the key factors so that the Swiss economy can successfully keep pace with the digital transformation. She is optimistic: “I have always been impressed by the innovative capacity of Swiss SMEs.” Fitzgerald adds: “What is needed is close collaboration between science and education and policies that create good basic conditions. Combined with innovative companies, those are the best prerequisites for Switzerland to play an important role in tomorrow’s digital world.”

Not only collecting but also evaluating data

A key element of a digital strategy is the handling of large amounts of data. “Evaluating and using Big Data – many companies are still doing too little of this. But this creates horizontal integration,” says Fitzgerald. At the same time, the processes in the company have to become digitalized, i.e. vertical integration. But this also requires new abilities, which in many cases still have to be developed, e.g. data analysts with specialized expertise. Another point is the importance of data security and user-friendliness. PwC therefore acquired a company that specializes in user experience so that “we can support our customers in digital transformation from innovation to strategy to concrete realization,” says Fitzgerald. A global network of 3,000 digital specialists supports customers, e.g. in developing and introducing complex, user-friendly mobile and Web solutions.

In consulting, human interaction continues to play an important role. But the fact is: certain consulting services are also increasingly be replaced with digital business models. “It’s too early for me to say whether human interaction will remain just as important for digital natives,” says Fitzgerald.

2016 Foreign Trade Forum on the topic of Industry 4.0

At our Foreign Trade Forum in Zurich on April 21, PwC will show you what digital transformation actually means for SMEs and how they can efficiently adopt them in their strategy. Register now!

More information on the topic in our dossier: Industry 4.0

Article: Industry 4.0: leading companies on opportunities for SMEs

Personal details

On July 1, 2013, Julie Fitzgerald was appointed Growth & Markets Leader and member of the Management Board of PwC Switzerland. In that role, she is responsible for growth through innovation and a focused client development program. Fitzgerald has a degree in electrical engineering and is a British chartered accountant. She joined PwC in 1990 in the UK before moving to PwC Switzerland in 1997 She became a partner in 1999. Prior to being appointed to the Management Board, she mainly worked as a chartered accountant and consultant for companies in the telecommunications and technology industry.

Company details

The aim of PwC is to further develop trust in the company and solve important problems. We are a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people who are committed to creating value for the economy and in particular companies with auditing, legal, and tax advisory services, as well as business consulting. Approximately 2,800 employees and partners work for PwC Switzerland at 14 different locations in Switzerland and one in the Principality of Liechtenstein. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at

“PwC” refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms. Each member of this network is a separate legal entity. For more details, please visit

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