For the Swiss Industry, the new year started with a highly relevant issue: on 11 January 2018, Swiss industry representatives gathered to discuss «Technology in the foreground – humans in focus». As the current industrial transformation opens up new possibilities and great potential through automatization, big data, Internet of things, high uncertainty among manufacturers remain. What does implementing Industry 4.0 really require? How can the digital transformation not only change the way of manufacturing, but also the way of how people will work together? And what does this change mean for every individual employee and employer and how do they need to adapt their mindsets to get ready for a digitized future?

Swiss Industry and digitization – still a long way to go?

digitalswitzerland was represented by its Managing Director Nicolas Bürer, who led a panel discussion on the topic of «New ways of thinking for the digital economy».


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In a short survey, it became clear that only 5% of the industrial companies present at the event, currently collaborate with start-ups. In comparison to other industries, this seems surprisingly low. In the banking sector for instance, cooperation between Fintechs and established financial providers are much more evolved.

Second, new ways of working and thinking ideas separate from the traditional business structure, such as for example in a future lab, have great potential to foster innovation. However, it requires both: only with an agile change between traditional hierarchy and managers in line and innovative people, between following and leading, can companies push incremental innovation. In a future lab, it is not about incremental change, but completely new ideas detached from the traditional business model.

Third, from several statements and discussions the question did arise as to whether the Swiss Industry is also being turned upside down. Will a disruption happen at a slow or fast pace? Are global start-ups, such as Facebook in the media sector, a potential threat to traditional industry companies? Insecurity remains, but it was agreed that it is better to be prepared, even if a disruption is not going to happen after all. As a panelist stated it: “You have to start before you are ready.”

Lastly, our world is becoming more complex, global, interlinked – and changing fast. Thus, we need to learn fast and adapt new ways of thinking. However, it is one thing to adapt agile frameworks and use buzzwords such as disruption, innovation lab or co-working. It is another, to really change mindsets and behavior.

That is where digitalswitzerland comes into play. Our mission is to make Switzerland a leading digital innovation hub. It is great to talk about challenges and potential, which come with digital transformation. But more important, to really step into action and start changing. At the beginning of every transformation, skepticism and doubts prevail and it takes time and courage to change. However, we don’t have time. So, let’s start the dialog!