Prevent the Nokia Fate

It is known as one of the biggest mistakes in economic history: in 1974, the young Kodak engineer Steve Sasson built the world's first digital camera. However, the company saw no threat in digital photography and rejected the idea.

One of the most fatal economic mistakes in history, which also contributed to the fact that the world's largest photographic company was overrun by the technological revolution.

40 years later, Kodak filed for bankruptcy and has since been only a shadow of itself - although every modern digital camera can be traced back to the original patent of the Kodak engineer.

Another example? After the turn of the millennium, Nokia was the undisputed leader in the mobile communications market. The company, which started about 150 years ago as a paper manufacturer and in the meantime sold rubber boots, continued to develop and became the dominant mobile phone producer.

In 2007 Apple's iPhone appeared on the market. Apps and touch screens were suddenly in vogue. Nokia's supremacy melted away and the company slipped into insignificance.

Nokia simply slept through the smartphone boom. Although the Finns brought Internet-enabled mobile phones onto the market early on, Nokia fought against the iPhone concept of intuitive user guidance and touch-sensitive screens for too long. In addition, there were Asian manufacturers who relied on the Apple concept and pushed Nokia even further aside. So while Apple and Co. were driving the mobile phone revolution on the smartphone market, Nokia - until its final failure and the takeover of the mobile phone division by Microsoft - continued to produce keyboard phones.

But what can companies do in times of digital change to avoid experiencing a Kodak or Nokia moment?

One thing is clear: digitization has now arrived in the midmarket. At least in raising awareness. But it is not a blanket program that can simply be imposed on all companies. Many companies are just starting out here. The first step requires creativity, good ideas and the right partners. The strategic use of new technologies in certain processes can already make a big difference here.

In the medium term, however, the biggest winners will be those who consider the primary business processes and use digitization and its possibilities tactically - including, of course, appropriate well thought-out business models. After all, products, especially digital ones, are much easier to copy than business models. Good business models combined with appropriate software can therefore provide better revenues and increase customer loyalty more sustainably.