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SMEs go digital: Getting good advice is half the battle

Björn Lorenz07/06/2017

When new technologies change the world, the narrative is always the same: In the beginning there is a vision - though it is often difficult to determine exactly who actually came up with the idea. In phase two, experts, analysts, technology providers and the first users get on board. Prototypes are presented; pilot projects are launched; and the first real products see the light of day. If it is all just hype, this is where it all ends. If it really is a technical revolution, this is where it all starts.

An increasing need for advice

How fast the technology spreads depends on many factors: Price, complexity, trust and the expected economic value. An important indicator is the need for advice in the run-up to large investments. According to the current Lünendonk study, in 2017 the field of IT consulting and system integration will continue to see the double-digit growth witnessed in 2016. Consulting is therefore needed primarily on overarching topics such as modernizing IT processes or building business models and processes on a cloud basis. This suggests that the need for digital transformation is now taken seriously.

New ways of thinking are required

The growing need for advice is due to the peculiarities of the digital transformation: It is not an issue of individual software projects or specific company areas. The digital transformation affects the entire value chain: From the smallest supplier to the most important customer, from the sketch of an idea to the final product. You cannot get all that under control with conventional methods. After all, the focus is not on the company itself this time. Professional consulting helps to take away the company filter on reality, to recognize the processes behind the company and to break out of conventional ways of thinking. It provides important impetus for conception, process optimization and the development of new business models.

High requirements on the consultants providing advice

However, it is hard to find the right partner. Because of the enormous thematic range, digital consultants can be hard to find. Only a few consultancies actually cover the entire supply chain and all aspects of product lifecycle management. And of these few, hardly anyone is able to flesh out the theory from beginning to end, i.e. include already existing products and technologies.

Strategic thinking, a holistic view of the value chain, and technical know-how on topics such as business solutions, sensor technology, big data, the cloud, business intelligence and mobile solutions are just some of the many skills required for comprehensive digital consulting. Professional digital consulting therefore is only possible with an interdisciplinary team that combines industry knowledge and IT know-how with engineering and business knowledge. 

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