Published 23. Jan. 2017
Is Your Business Ready for the Digital Future?
Why take innovation seriously? eurodata AG's Smart Services COO Frank Reinelt paints a clear picture of the future and shares compelling reasons for companies to embrace change.
For Frank Reinelt, Smart Services COO at eurodata AG, if he must choose which from among the giant tech trends is the biggest (e.g. 3D printing, virtual or augmented reality applications, drones, robots, and wearables), “It would be autonomous driving.”
Coupled with intelligent data handling, driverless cars will revolutionize how people experience short and mid-distance mobility, “If I call a taxi in the future, for example, I’m expecting to be picked up by an autonomous car at an exact time. There’s no need for me to tell the taxi service when they should pick me up, they will instead provide me with pick up time suggestions using all relevant data available. The car itself will know where I need to be and at what time.”
Asked for what he considers as the biggest game-changer, Reinelt replies, “Platforms.”
Tech trends big or small will be connected to the Internet via platforms. In eurodata, “We will enable our customers to build new platform services or ‘Smart Services’ to launch their own new digital business models. So, what it means for autonomous cars is information such as pickup time and location will also be available in the user’s digital calendar, on the traffic information system or even in online weather services.”
In user experience innovation, “I consider the iPhone as a world changer more disruptive than Airbnb and Uber.”
But the world will see more examples of innovation, which might not always be as obvious or famous, but whose impact might even be greater.
The Need to Innovate
Future innovations will come with society-changing sustainable concepts, not just market disruptors. Reinelt believes that nature is still the best source of ideas especially in terms of sustainable concepts, “The human brain is a model of energy efficiency. With its 100 billion neurons, it only consumes 50 watts, compared with a modern computer’s energy consumption, which is in the thousands.”
The call for innovation is not just incessant, but constant, “Even companies considered as winners in the digital age, like Apple, experienced disruption when streaming services attacked their iTunes music downloading business model.”
He urges companies to never stop innovating and start getting used to the digital markets as early as possible, “Starting too late and too cautiously will give new digital players more advantages. And then before you know it, they’ve taken over your traditional market and it’s too late to react. Examples of this can be seen everywhere, take Kodak, Nokia, AGFA, Neckermann, Quelle, Schlecker, Suhrcamp Verlag, etc.”
The Best Move Forward
Today’s successful analog business models may still be profitable for many companies, but their days are numbered. Companies must realize that they’re under a false sense of security and it’s preventing them from investing in new digital business models. So, for companies who want to future-proof their business, Reinelt has these suggestions:
- Be a Visionary – Innovate to be ahead and aim for the visionary vendor position. Always search for new ideas and involve employees in the change. Make “Failure is the Way to Success” your motto. Choose which is better for your business: To cautiously cope with change in your core business or fund or invest in start ups?
- Go for Unconventional Talents – Never take unique people for granted, as they’re usually the ones who do things differently. Digital solutions often require new ways and out-of-the-box ideas to be successful.
- Invest in Digital Technologies – Digital technologies can be an innovation enabler and a target, at the same time. Elon Musk relied on digital technologies to build his electric car in no time, and disruptors Airbnb or Facebook started purely digital.
- Co-Create – Collaboration plays a key role in innovation. When two or more key technologies, ideas, and funding merge — as with Uber, who’s never built cars and car maker Ford — mobility is re-invented. Those two companies are running self-driving vehicles as a new service on their mobility platform.