Digitalisation is a global megatrend that will permanently change the nature of our daily work and conventional business models. The aim of the Future of Work project is to provide employees and businesses with help and support during the digital transformation.
Digitalisation presents major challenges to commercial and civil society, political institutions and industry. Together with the megatrends of demographics, economic global networking and governance challenges for companies and entire states, digitalisation will pay a pivotal role as both a driving force and a potential solution for global problems. What distinguishes digitalisation from previous social changes is its exponential development curve, combination of various quantum leaps in technological advancement, and its cross-border, cross-institutional impact.
It is therefore essential to create awareness for this new quality of development, and to find a space or platform for the discussion of possible approaches to solutions for these challenges beyond the scope of conventional paradigms. We need to follow new project paths to achieve this. However, the Internet of Things, cloud-based working and thinking in the economic dimensions of platform economies like Airbnb and Uber turn familiar work and business paradigms on their heads, and demand a greater flexibility of adaptation by all players. In view of the qualitative leap in economic development, the mere continuation of the logic of increasing efficiency falls short of the mark. Digitalisation means not mechanisation but disruption; not embracing a new planning paradigm, but coping with the unfamiliar; not ex-ante certainty, but ex-post learning.
At the same time, no empirically based experience is available which might help to cope with this disruption – and the result is a high general level of perplexity. To date, there is no concrete mental image of how society, the world of politics and businesses will progress along the path from analogue to digital.
Our aim, therefore, is to raise the awareness of SMEs with regard to their management of digitalisation. At the same time, they should also develop an idea of the possible disruption of existing business models that digitalisation may cause.
Our case studies identify some good examples of companies that have dealt successfully with the transition of their working and manufacturing processes to the digital age, up to and including the adaptation of their own respective traditional business models.