Those who have digitisation in mind think of urban pioneers, agile corporations and perhaps only then of a region such as South Westphalia, which is characterised by forests, meadows and the economy. However, it is precisely here that the world market leaders, hidden champions and suppliers, some of them with centuries of tradition, act as the driving force behind our economy. And they are driving the digital change far more than many admonishers and critics would want to admit. In 2017, a study by the B2B agency PSV was one of the first to show this. Frank Hüttemann, head of the agency, which itself is part of the South Westphalian mid-sized sector, takes a position on the question of change, which according to his opinion is not a change.
What were the main findings of your survey and why do you think change is wrong?
The results of our investigation at that time have long since been confirmed. The implementation of technologies in the sense of Production 4.0 is underway. However, there is still an urgent need to address security, the digital infrastructure and above all the issue of employee competence and with this the shortage of young people and skilled workers. Due to the location, the latter is also an appeal to rethink regional marketing. This is just as comparable as the problems of demography, migration and identity. What is needed here is a rethink, a paradigm shift, a reform that will help regional marketing to finally be effective.
It is a question of a clear attitude, and clarity must also be created if we want digitisation. The word "change" means for me to change something that already exists, to adapt it, but to keep its core. However, if one looks at digitisation, one has to understand that much of what used to work no longer makes sense, even if one adapts it. For this reason, I prefer the term "transformation" - to transform itself into something new, perhaps even something completely different. That must be the goal. I need transformation, not change. Not a caterpillar with wings, but a butterfly. I need something better.
Do companies need to digitise faster?
When digitisation experts talk to small and medium-sized businesses about immediately being on the sidelines if you are not using 4.0 now, I get upset. Yes, companies must change in order to meet the new requirements of the markets. Automation, platform economy, agility, rationalisation and above all individualisation are the parameters in which companies must align themselves today for the future. However, we must be aware that we are all on the same level of knowledge at present. An online shop and networked production are no guarantee for successful digitisation. Between these two, there are people driving the change. And are driven by it.
And we are all starting from scratch on this issue, because the social consequences of digital change are not yet clear to us. You can tell by how many people are afraid of something like Facebook - and do not understand that this is already a worldwide form of communication, a cultural technique. We must learn that transformation is already taking place around us, and we can only master this transformation if we rethink ourselves, if we understand what is happening, if we sometimes tap into its raison d'être to survive. If we then have the courage to also think anew, from the outside, not from the inside, then we do not have to be afraid of the future either".