‘More opportunity than risk’ – etventure features in the Handelsblatt cover story
21. October 2016
‘Digital Germany: How business can master the transformation.’ This is the front-page headline of today’s weekend edition of the German business publication, Handelsblatt. Along with its clients Haniel and Siegwerk, etventure took a prominent position in the cover story, which was given the title ‘More opportunity than risk.’
‘Uber yourself before you get Kodak’ed’ is a phrase that has now become commonplace in the Silicon Valley. Yet many companies in Germany are only just realizing that this warning applies to them as well – that digitization is unavoidable for any company that wants its business model to remain functional in the future. The most recent edition of Handelsblatt took an in-depth look at the digital scene and the digitization projects being undertaken by German businesses. It summarizes its conclusion with the title: ‘More opportunity than risk.’ This is because digitization affects all sectors and companies of all sizes and it can unleash enormous potential.
Digitization in a ‘protected space’
“Most SMEs have recognized that their business model must undergo some kind of alteration,” says etventure Founder and Managing Director Philipp Depiereux, who is cited in the article. Handelsblatt editors Bert Fröndhoff, Miriam Schröder and Dana Heide made some precise observations about the way that etventure supports its clients Haniel and Siegwerk Druckfarben with the process of digital transformation. One example of this is Schacht One, the digital unit that etventure and Haniel founded together. Schacht One is a ‘protected space’ outside of the company’s established structures, within which innovation projects can be pursued. “So why isn’t this possible within the company itself? Because the role of this unit is to question the entire value chain within the Haniel empire. This is a difficult task for people who are fearful of losing their job or their influence,” the editors explain.
“Experimentation rather than perfection”
What often hinders digitization in companies is the mentality – the engineering-based perfectionism that is typically German. “The success of many SMEs is actually built on this thirst for perfection, yet it blocks their path to rapid, flexible digitization,” Philipp Depiereux explains in the article. Instead, the maxim should be “experimentation rather than perfection.” Yet within companies, there is a very significant fear of change. This assertion is confirmed by Herbert Forker, CEO of Siegwerk Druckfarben, another etventure client. “Often, the biggest hurdle is the company’s own management team,” explains Forker, who is cited in the article. Digitization therefore requires decisive leadership from the CEO. “I am a missionary within the company,” says Forker.
For many German companies, there is still a lot of work to do. To do it, they need courage and creativity. The Handelsblatt article summarizes the situation like this: “A start has been made but there is still a long way to go.”