3 questions to smart minds

Growth with digital transformation

For this 3 questions to Stefanie Peters

Photo: Stefa­nie Peters
30. July 2015

Indus­try 4.0 is a future project in the area of the high-tech stra­tegy of the German fede­ral govern­ment and indus­try, which is prima­rily inten­ded to advance the compu­te­riza­tion of manu­fac­tu­ring tech­no­logy and logi­stics. The goal is the “intel­li­gent factory” (smart factory). Howe­ver, the inte­gra­tion of Higtech and digi­tal media affects all compa­nies. What proces­ses are invol­ved and which specia­lists are in demand?

For this 3 ques­ti­ons to CEO and foun­ding part­ner at enable2grow in Berlin&Munich

1. Indus­try 4.0′ is the buzzword for a new hype. What exactly is meant by this? Which compa­nies are affected?

The term was coined by poli­ti­ci­ans and is not precis­ely defi­ned. My under­stan­ding of Indus­try 4.0 is the digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion of medium-sized busi­nesses. Speci­fi­cally, this invol­ves the syste­ma­tic analy­sis of the value chain for digi­tiza­tion poten­tial — on the one hand, this results in produc­ti­vity increa­ses and, on the other hand, new digi­tal busi­ness models can be deve­lo­ped that also provide a compe­ti­tive advan­tage for the company. I don’t know of any company that is not affec­ted by this trend — certainly to vary­ing degrees depen­ding on the indus­try. The media indus­try, for exam­ple, clearly shows that a digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion is urgen­tly needed, but only a few have really begun to do this consis­t­ently. We recently acqui­red the estab­lished media consul­tancy Schmidt Grund Part­ner to support publishers in parti­cu­lar in their digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion — the need here is really high.

2. What proces­ses do you have to think about in a ‘digi­tal growth project’? Which approach do you realize and what do the results look like then?

Each of our projects is tail­o­red to the client’s needs, but the 3‑step approach is simi­lar: analy­sis — concept — imple­men­ta­tion. In the analy­sis phase, we take a close look at the company, inter­view many employees, and ques­tion the status quo. On this basis, we deve­lop a suita­ble stra­tegy with our client — often it is a realignment, a refo­cu­sing on the core compe­ten­cies. This is what we did at poster­XXL, for exam­ple, refo­cu­sing the brand, then adap­ting struc­tures and proces­ses and making them more effi­ci­ent, and intro­du­cing an end-to-end target system. As a result of this and consis­tent manage­ment, poster­XXL was able to double its sales and increase its EBITDA eight­fold within 1 year (please check the figu­res). From this strong posi­tion, the company was an attrac­tive target and was just acqui­red by Photo­Box Group. That we could contri­bute to this success story, we are of course pleased :)

3. What chal­lenges do compa­nies from the ‘old economy’ face? Who are your clients? Do these also come from the private equity sector?

The key ques­tion that tradi­tio­nal compa­nies need to ask them­sel­ves is: what is my DNA and how do I trans­fer it to the digi­tal world? Speci­fi­cally: What is our digi­tal USP? This is not an easy ques­tion to answer — it requi­res an analy­sis of the market envi­ron­ment, not only the known compe­ti­tion, but also the as yet unknown compe­ti­tion. These are small (still unim­pres­sive and unpro­fi­ta­ble) start­ups with inno­va­tive, even disrup­tive, busi­ness models that won’t be big for a few years, but as an estab­lished big-tanker, I need to have these new speed­boats on my radar. Then I have to search my own proces­ses for digi­tal poten­tial, turn over every stone, ques­tion every proce­dure in order to repo­si­tion myself for the digi­tal future. And once the concept is in place, the real chall­enge begins: change manage­ment. Manage­ment now has the task of living the new direc­tion, brin­ging the new mind­set into the corpo­rate culture, and taking all employees with them on this journey.

Of course, inves­tors are asking the same ques­tion for your port­fo­lio: should we hire someone to screen our holdings (across all indus­tries) for their digi­tiza­tion poten­tial and drive digi­tal trans­for­ma­tion? Or do we prefer to work with an exter­nal part­ner who puts toge­ther the right and highly expe­ri­en­ced team for each company? Many inves­tors choose to go this route with us in order to be able to act in a targe­ted, speci­fic and fast manner.



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