Mr. Reimann, on 8 September you will be at the S-GE Impulse: MEM at the Sindex trade fair in Bern, where you will be saying a few words about Industry 2025.
Let's risk a jump into the future: the MEM sector in 2025.
First of all: the topic itself is nothing new. Around ten years ago we had similar subjects on the radar. But technology wasn’t sufficiently developed back then. Nowadays it’s more the case that people need to move more quickly. Technology has taken the lead. I think, however, that digitization and networking will have advanced a great deal in ten years, such as digital networking across company boundaries, which could include the suppliers and customers. What’s more, the forms of organization should have adapted by then: companies often have many departments with different systems, orders and priorities. These media breaks need to be removed. In dynamic and flat organizations, digital transformation will be a lot easier to realize.
Why was the initiative “Industry 2025” needed, if the subject is already well known?
The field “Industry 4.0” is huge and complex. Lots of different information and terms exist. And this makes it difficult for companies. They don’t really know: Where are the benefits? Where will all of this lead? What opportunities and risks will result? We view ourselves as an independent platform, and a point of contact for such questions. People are confronted with this topic to an extensive degree via the media, but it is important that we focus on personal targets when dealing with it. Otherwise the subject remains abstract. Managers will only be brave enough to make investments once they have received all of the required information. Our partners then accompany the specific projects, such as consulting or engineering firms.
Which hurdles will you encounter?
A transformation in the way we think is also needed: we won’t get far with small, isolated projects. Industry 4.0 is a strategic roadmap, which management need to follow. However, most companies still do not have an overall digital strategy. With our initiative we are trying to provide them with some orientation.
Do companies, which are completely ignoring digitization, even have a chance in the future?
It is obvious that not everything needs to be digitized. However, for companies with high technology penetration, automation and thus digitization and networking is essential, in order to remain competitive. The industrial workplace of Switzerland must face up to the digital transformation and take on a leading role, in order to ensure it remains competitive in the future.
What risks exist for companies in relation to the transformation?
The technology must provide a clear benefit in the business model. It’s not about playing about with technical toys. Which is why preparation, analysis and the development of an overall concept are very important. Companies should only actively start with digital networking once the organization and processes have been aligned: Has their organization been streamlined? Does every single step make sense? In which areas can added value be generated, such as for a better customer experience? Digitization and networking in my opinion are less of the problem.
Do you have any other specific tips?
To summarize the points, the optimum path to digitization is: Companies should be sure that the processes, the form of organization and the business model are future-oriented and optimally structured. The Executive Committee should have implemented an overriding digital strategy. And then the digitization activities, which enable relevant data to be collected, should be driven forward. The next step involves vertical, and horizontal networking, i.e. along the value chain and hierarchy levels. Significant importance must be also be placed on the evaluation of the information. This is currently still a weak spot. There’s a huge amount of data available, but what do we do with it? The results of the analysis should hopefully provide new possibilities and business models.
Register now for the Impulse: MEM on September 8, 2016, at the Sindex trade fair in Bern, where you will meet interesting speakers and benefit as an S-GE member from an exclusive tour of the trade fair in relation to the topic Industry 4.0.
Part of the interview was taken from the magazine "SwissMEM Network", edition 2/16. The entire interview and further information on the initiative “Industry 2025” can be found here!
More information on the topic:
Discuss with peers about Industry 4.0 at the meeting place for exporting SMEs in Western Switzerland Exporter Demain. Get inspired by our speakers on September, 16 on the EPFL campus in Lausanne!