Digital workshop: Google opens its digital training center at Friendsfactory and etventure’s premises
24. June 2016
Yesterday, Google opened its Digital Workshop on Munich’s Prannerstrasse. Over the next six weeks, Google will be offering face-to-face training entitled “Munich Awakening – How to Digitize your Business.” The training sessions will take place at the premises of Friendsfactory and etventure and will cover topics such as online marketing, SEO and social media. Guests at the official opening included patron Ilse Aigner, who is the Bavarian minister of economic affairs and media, energy and technology. Participants of the workshops should, however, be aware that they will not trigger a digital revolution in their companies simply by participating in this training.
“Digitization doesn’t just have an effect on the personal sphere, it affects all areas of business,” the minister of state explained at the press conference that marked the opening of the digital workshop. According to Aigner, German SMEs are particularly far behind in the area of digital transformation. Dr. Wieland Holfelder, head of Google’s development center in Munich, added to this assertion: “The majority of SMEs do realize that digitization is becoming more important and that this development has direct consequences for their companies. Yet many SMEs do not know how they should be tackling digitization.” The necessary expertise, said Holfelder, is often lacking in this respect.
At the press conference, Peter Kammerer, deputy chief executive at IHK Munich and Upper Bavaria, also made it clear that the lack of digital skills means that huge potential for growth is being wasted. “If digital technology were to be used effectively, the German economy could grow by around 82 million euros by 2020,” said Kammerer. “This is why we need to approach these companies and mobilize them.” Overall, he said that Bavaria, as well as Germany as a whole, were on the right track in the area of digitization. Kammerer attested that the Bavarian minister of state for economic affairs had made good progress with broadband expansion. He also said that the German federal government’s recent abolition of laws concerning indirect liability was an important step in the right direction.
Grand statements about the future-oriented topic of digital transformation. We are of course very happy that etventure’s premises on Prannerstrasse in Munich, which we only moved into with Friendsfactory in the spring, have so quickly attracted this much attention by being home to the Google training center. As a digital and startup hub in the historical center of Munich, Friendsfactory and etventure have set themselves the aim of creating a nerve center for the digitization of both corporations and startups, and to foster networking between both sides. Google’s statement at the opening event was along similar lines.
However, the current program fails to meet the expectations aroused by the announcements at the press conference. Google’s plan for the training center is to help companies – particularly SMEs – to reach their customers through digital channels. With courses on the topics of SEO and SEA, social media, and web analytics, the participants will gain digital skills and support in the area of online marketing. Although this is certainly important for companies in the B2C sector, it only represents a tiny subsection of digitization. In the B2B sector, which constitutes a large business segment for SMEs, the impact of these measures is extremely limited.
“SMEs that are choosing to undertake this training in the hopes that it will better prepare them for digitization – particularly those SMEs that operate in the B2B sector – are on the wrong track,” explained Philipp Depiereux, founder and managing director of etventure. “Just because the company attracts online customers to its website and uses Google Analytics does not mean that the business has been digitized. What’s more, SMEs in the B2B sector are very far removed from standard procedures in the consumer world. And this is also what we are seeing from our SME customers: generally the entire communication channel between the company and its customers have yet to be digitized. This means our first task is to develop a service that will enable us to establish a digital channel for the company. And, incidentally, the first step is almost never an online store. This means that Google’s program, which teaches the basics of online marketing, will not be at all effective in this area. This is first and foremost an opportunity for Google to promote its own business. That’s a pity, because Google is logically one of the largest driving forces behind digitization across a very wide range of business areas. In this context, we are once again glad to present the etventure approach to digitization: a holistic approach that focuses on the company’s core business.”
The five rules of digitization, which we published to accompany our survey of Germany, can be requested here. The document is the outcome of a survey of 2,000 SMEs and corporations that was undertaken in partnership with the market research institute GfK.
More snapshots from the opening of Google’s Digital Workshop: