Digitization Switzerland: How fit are Swiss SMEs in digitization?

Author / Editor: Susanne Reinshagen / Franziska Breunig

Digitization is advancing and the digital mastery of processes is important for business success. How are the Swiss SMEs doing? Are they fit for digital transformation?

Anyone, who closes the door on digital transformation, endangers the future of his/her company.
Anyone, who closes the door on digital transformation, endangers the future of his/her company.
(Source: in public domain)

The think tank of a Swiss FHNW (University of Applied Sciences) and the "SME Next" network have investigated how Swiss SMEs deal with changes and, in particular, digitalisation. Staufen-Inova AG also recently published its Change Readiness Index, which shows the degree of companies' willingness and ability to change. Here is a situation report.

Dynamism is on the rise

Swiss companies have faced a major change the last two years. The strong Swiss franc caused headaches for the business leaders on the one hand, while internationalisation and technological progress also generated great dynamism on the other. Dr Urs Hirt, Managing Director of Staufen-Inova AG, notes that the companies are confronted with numerous trends, which force them to make fundamental changes. Digitization especially represents a key challenge for Swiss industrial companies, as it is necessary to make the organisation and processes, as well as the executives and employees fit for change.

Gap between the young and old

Although some companies are well ahead in the implementation of their digital strategy, depending on the industry, the think tank is of the opinion that there is a clear gap in the willingness to change between young, agile start-ups and established SMEs. Small-sized enterprises, in particular, are associated with the risk of strong inward focus, rather than on the changes in the market. This means that new business segments are not recognised and cannot be set up. Companies face the risk of losing established business segments.

The report of the think tank of the FHNW and SME next also notes that many companies, especially from the machine industry, have begun to digitize their processes and business models in the last 2 to 3 years. The survey of Staufen-Inova also made it clear that Swiss companies have already started working hard on their organisational structures and processes. Dr Urs Hirt is convinced that this is also due to the unpegging of the Swiss franc beginning of 2015. The companies had to trim their processes to make them more efficient and lean in order to remain competitive. Now, they can react faster and better to changes.

The Change Readiness Index recorded by Staufen-Inova AG measures the ability of companies to change. In the present study, it amounts to 63, on a scale from 0 to 100 (0 = no changeability, 100 = highest changeability). Dr Urs Hirt confirms that this is a solid value, with which Swiss companies demonstrate their willingness and ability to change.

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