Question: Accenture says that Industry 4.0 should not limit itself to operational efficiency alone. The real challenge lies in the development of new business models. Is that the way you see it?
Anderl: That is exactly how I see it.
Question: One of the difficulties with new business models is that you cannot simply replace the old ones at a stroke. How do mid-sized companies handle this transition?
Anderl: That's right. No-one replaces a successful business model with another simply because it's new. However, you can gradually extend it. The second variant is to set up a new company under a different name in order to avoid cannibalization effects. The new organization can then be staffed by appropriate employees who are perfectly familiar with the new business model.
Question: Accenture also says that the people who will actually make money with Industry 4.0 are the ones who control the data platforms. Is a mid-sized company even able to do that?
Anderl: Definitely. However, it isn't necessary for every mid-sized company to create its own platform. We know of examples where mid-sized enterprises have come together to build this type of platform, even if they do this away from the public eye. If these platforms offer interfaces that make it possible to connect ecosystems then this represents a huge field of business.
Question: One of the most important elements in this guideline is the creative workshop which you have tested with various candidates. What have you been able to learn from this?
Anderl: One of the most important things is that the workshops should be conducted with as representative a cross-section of employees as possible. When employees from different departments and divisions come together for two days and also spend the evening together, the results are extremely stimulating. You hardly need to give any instructions, you just act as moderator. Employees know very well just how much can be realistically achieved in the next two to three years.
Question: Does the guideline also support enterprises in the implementation of the new business models?
Anderl: No, the guideline is simply there in order to help companies position themselves and define a profile for their further development. The follow-up that leads to the development of new business models is the result of the creative phase that takes place during the workshops.
Question: Have you also helped companies implement their ideas?
Anderl: No, once the participants realized where the journey was to lead, their discussions with us were quickly at an end. The companies involved then immediately moved on to the next step themselves and asked what investments were involved, what it would mean for their organization, what qualifications their employees would need, how they should present themselves externally, etc. These are all internal matters that no business wants to make public.
Question: But you know that these companies are continuing the journey?
Anderl: In many cases, we know that they are because we have received feedback not about how much the companies are going to invest but that they are planning to invest.