News Overview

"We Have a Lot of Homework to Do"

Author: Roland Will

The Swiss Way of Business Innovation. An update conversation between ...

Ewa Ming, CEO Emexmanagement Ltd., Founder «Business Innovation Week Switzerland» and Nicolas Bürer, CEO of «digitalswitzerland», a Swiss-wide, multi-stakeholder initiative for innovation

Why should SMEs in Switzerland really invest in innovation and digital transformation?

Ewa Ming: The good economic data of the Swiss economy should not lead us to rest on our laurels. Change is mandatory for growth and even if it seems that there is no shortage of new ideas, products or business models, leaders must be prepared for radical change soon! We will not be able to avoid developing processes and productivity with the help of digitization. SMEs have to manage bundling know-how and using data for their own business, for the market and customers.

The initiative «digitalswitzerland» intends to achieve to establish Switzerland as a leading European digital-innovation hub. A high standard! Where is Switzerland at the moment in this process?

Nicolas Bürer: If you look at worldwide ranking from different institutions, we are ranked pretty well so far, sometimes even extremely good. For example the Worldwide Talent Competitiveness Index ranks Switzerland as Number 1 since 5 years. This shows we are doing a lot right in terms of talent development. Also, the startup ecosystem is growing extremely well since many years in the country with 30% growth in invested capital and reached 1.25bn in 2018. Nevertheless, we still have a lot of homework to do in different areas in order to continue having a prosperous economy and high-quality society in 10 to 20 years. Other innovation hubs in the world are moving very fast.

Who are the main competitors for Swiss SMEs in the future? The current competitor, corporates or rather young and wild digital disruptors?

Ewa Ming: The competitors are everywhere – no matter of size and location! As a leader you must be smarter and quicker! I would like to answer this question with an exciting example: The young Winterthur company Deep Impact is a leader in digital face recognition. When it comes to innovation, the management has a disruptive strategy: Deep Impact must have the good idea in the form of a prototype within two weeks and has to be tested by the target group during this time. The first version of the new offer or product should then be launched at the latest after six months. Thereafter, it will be continuously tested and improved on the market. This is fast, maybe too fast, but a way for economic success in times of digitization.

How should SMEs start their digital transformation?

Ewa Ming: My credo that I want to write Swiss SMEs in the studbook: Try & error! Drive forward courageously and with a calculated risk for digital transformation! Companies like Deep Impact do it with facial recognition. We’re also trying nothing else at EMEX Management. After twelve years of SuisseEMEX trade show business for marketeers at Messe Zürich, we are now banking on our new umbrella brand "Business Innovation" in a new setup and format. With the "Business Innovation Week Switzerland", we focus on the central importance of SMEs for Switzerland’s economy. With this major convention in Zurich, we enable entrepreneurs and employees, future-oriented designers and trendsetters to change their perspectives and experiences in terms of space and content: Keynotes, exhibitions, seminars, studio workshops, start-up pitches and company tours convey relevant innovation knowledge and ensure a great deal of networking. Incidentally, Deep Impact will be demonstrating facial recognition at Business Innovation Week. Join us and find out more

The perception of digitization in Switzerland is very ambivalent: A new scientific survey of Zurich University of Applied Sciences (HWZ) says Swiss SMEs are still "digital dinosaurs", in contrast the Swiss economy produces the most innovation in the world. How does it fit together?

Nicolas Bürer: I agree with both. Most of SMEs still need to embrace the digital transformation, become more agile and try ou new innovation. Very important for the prosperity of our economy backbone. On the other side, we have many precious SMES which indeed produces worldwide unbeatable innovations. It is not enough to have 5% of such companies, we all have to make sure that the other 95% are sensibilised and ready to innovate their business model and way of working. We are all working on this giant task, especially you, Ewa, with the ”Business Innovation Week Switzerland”.