Digitalisierung: Warum deutsche Unternehmen scheitern

Interessanter Standpunkt hier zu den Gründen des Scheiterns deutscher Unternehmen in der Digitalisierung.

Problem 1: management

Start with the management. The problems here begin with Germany’s rigid hierarchies. Most German organizations are shaped like a pyramid. An employee reports to his supervisor. And the supervisor reports to his super-supervisor. Working life is an endless tale of delegating, scheming and blaming. Innovative ideas stand almost no chance in this culture. An employee shouldn’t need explicit approval to experiment and to innovate; innovation implies at least some creative spontaneity and autonomy.

Problem 2: missing tools

At almost every client I’ve worked with, I’ve encountered Stone-Age tools. The German teams I’ve seen still use e-mail to communicate. Chat, video-conferencing, applications from Slack to Trello, are often not even allowed. To track projects and numbers, the Germans still use Excel and MS Projects. Should they dare to ask for a whiteboard, they’re in for a long ride with the purchasing department.

Why can’t we find state-of-the-art tools in our offices? Germany is notoriously strict about data privacy. Companies operating in Germany have to make sure that data  is anonymized and stored in accordance with the law. These data rules are a big reasons why German companies have to stick with their old tools. But every day that we Germans obsess about data, thousands of businesses elsewhere merrily and creatively forge ahead without us.

Problem 3: outdated infrastructure

Another problem is that German politicians, sorry, just don’t get it. Just take the leaders of our two biggest parties, which just agreed to continue governing together. Andrea Nahles, the incoming leader of the center-left Social Democrats has declared digital capitalism the enemy of “socially” acceptable markets. And Angela Merkel, the chancellor and leader of the center-right Christian Democrats, has famously called the internet Neuland (“uncharted territory”).

As a result, our policymakers have long neglected our digital infrastructure. We have the world’s fastest autobahns, with no speed limits. But we use country lanes for our binary zeros and ones. As of late 2016, only about 2 percent of German broadband connections were through fiber-optic cables, compared with more than 50 percent in Latvia or Sweden. According to the European Commission, Germany ranked 28th of out of 32 in broadband coverage.

Problem 4: lack of talent

Finally, Germany doesn’t have enough people with the right skills. According to a recent study, German companies have 1.6 million job openings they cannot fill. Deutsche Telekom can’t get enough cyber-security experts. Some of my clients haven’t even found a single applicant for positions in artificial intelligence.

One explanation has to do with German schools. Some consider themselves lucky if they have a single computer in their classrooms. According to a report Germany must invest nearly €3 billion a year in technology for schools if it wants to stay competitive globally. A lot of students already come to school knowing more about the latest technology than teachers do.

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