What is the future for small manufacturers

Services 4.0 - making services fit for the future with digitization

Germany is to become the number one digital growth country in Europe. A new industrial revolution is underway, which offers many opportunities and new markets, but also challenges for small and medium-sized companies: It is no longer the individual manufacturer or provider that is in the foreground, but the consumer with his diverse requirements, for which he integrated one as possible Solution (product and process) expected. Here, Germany has already achieved an advantageous position with Industry 4.0 and the link between ICT and production.

Now it is important to integrate classic services even more strongly into the digital value chain. Because not only industry, but also the service sector will change fundamentally and sustainably through the possibilities of digitization. Depending on whether it involves product-related, personal or knowledge-based services, digital technologies have different effects on business models, sales strategies or service processes. In the trade, for example, there are more and more "smart products" that are equipped with sensors, collect data and can communicate independently (elevators or heating systems). Car sharing companies and switching platforms are new competitors in the mobility market. In other industries, such as retail and tourism, online business models are growing rapidly and threaten the very existence of previous business models. Often the industry knowledge is no longer a decisive success factor, the access to the customer is decisive. Internet platforms and online-based business models increasingly occupy this interface. Companies that do not deal with this development and adapt their range of services and their business models risk their existence in the long run.

In many service sectors, small and medium-sized companies threaten to underestimate the development of digitization. For almost 50 percent of companies, the digitization of business processes currently plays no role at all (DZ Bank study 2014). This situation among small and medium-sized companies is also confirmed by an online consultation carried out by the BMWi (Management Summary (PDF: 110 KB)) and a brief overview of the core results (PDF: 203 KB). Less than a quarter of the respondents have already adapted their business models to the possibilities of digitization. Companies must be actively introduced to and supported in the digital transformation.

Conference "Potentials and Challenges of Digitization for the Service Industry"

The conference "Potentials and challenges of digitization for the service economy" (PDF: 2 MB) on April 28, 2015 in the Federal Ministry of Economics made a first contribution to this. At the event jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Economics, DIHK and ver.di, around 200 entrepreneurs, representatives of associations, chambers and trade unions as well as other organizations in the service industry were able to find out about new developments and trends and exchange ideas about the need for action. The Federal Ministry of Economics, the DIHK and ver.di want to increase their efforts in the future to use appropriate measures to raise awareness among companies and to offer targeted support and information for the service industry. The wording of the measures agreed between BMWi, DIHK and ver.di can be found here (PDF: 298 KB).