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Dare to keep up with the pace of development

News   •   Nov 15, 2017 09:04 GMT

Benny Guttman from Roland Berger together with Johan Wangström, moderator of Subcontractor Direct.

Start by creating an awareness in your company about new technology. Then dare to try out your ideas. That advice was given by Benny Guttman at Elmia Subcontractor and it focuses on the technological shift we are currently experiencing. 

New technologies that are coming in the next five to ten years or technologies that already exist but have not yet reached their full potential. That is a brief description of the term “emerging technologies”. The question is just how the manufacturing industry, and above all small and medium-size companies (SMEs), should relate to these new technologies.

The answer was given at Subcontractor Direct when Benny Guttman from the management consultants Roland Berger appeared on stage.

“New technology has always appeared but the difference now is that the development is so powerful it is creating great changes both for society and for industry,” he said under the programme heading of “Emerging technologies – how should the industry relate to the pace of development?”

Sweden is in the forefront

The starting point is at least good. Guttman says that Sweden is in the forefront in terms of both the level of technology and the innovative capacity. He is doubtful whether all SMEs will cope with the transition but he also sees huge potential.

“Sweden is well placed. The World Economist Forum ranks Sweden as number three in the world in digitalisation after Singapore and Finland. However, the Smart Industry strategy was launched in Sweden in 2016 whereas Industrie 4.0 came in Germany in 2010. So they’ve been working for longer to digitalise the industry. But in general Sweden has a high level of technological maturity and we’re well placed from an international perspective.”

Don’t be the next Kodak

At the same time, it is important not to stop developing but instead always to keep up when new technology enters the market. Kodak, which made camera film, is an oft-cited example of a company that did not see the opportunities.

“What’s so odd about Kodak is that they invented the digital camera but didn’t dare take it to market because it would compete with their existing cash cow. We have to get away from that mindset – we must innovate, we must get the products to the market and we must dare to go against conventional business.”

Cooperate and try

Guttman gave three concrete pieces of advice to companies that want to prepare for future technological paradigm shifts rather than going the same way as Kodak.

  • Start by understanding and paying attention to the problem – but also the possibilities – and begin by looking at the closest market.
  • Cooperate and dare to try things out – even when it comes to increasing the efficiency of your own value chain.
  • Build up technological expertise and a technological culture in your company.
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