Digital transformation is something that just has to be done; in small steps and by quickly learning from outcomes. This is the conclusion of the sub-report ‘Tijdshorizon van het Noord-Nederlandse MKB’ (Timeframe of SMEs in the Northern Netherlands) based on the Northern Netherlands Innovation Monitor 2019, conducted by the University of Groningen (UG) and the Northern Netherlands Provinces Alliance (SNN) under the leadership of researchers Thijs Broekhuizen and Erzsi Meerstra. Companies with a clear vision for the future but which, at the same time, do not look too far ahead show the strongest digital transformation.
What you wish to be as a company is strongly decisive in terms of how far ahead you must look. Do you want to mainly innovate and provide better service for your existing clients, or do you want to conquer the market with a new digital revenue model?
Dr Thijs Broekhuizen, associate professor at the UG and coordinator of the Northern Netherlands Innovation Monitor: ‘Innovators benefit from a long-term vision, planning and investments. They must look ahead. But if you want to be a digital company, then you can throw these plans away. Digital transformation is best learnt by actually doing it; by quickly learning from existing developments, by experimenting and by continuing to improve. Digital transformers do not reflect on the roles of blockchain or artificial intelligence but instead, directly apply these technologies. They adjust their revenue models by looking at what works and what does not.’
The Northern Netherlands Innovation Monitor is an initiative of the Centre of Expertise Vinci of the UG and the SNN. Since 2015, they have been sending an annual questionnaire to around 5,000 SMEs in the Northern Netherlands. The results gained provide insight into their innovation activities, investments and performances.
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