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Keese, Christoph
Silicon Germany: Wie wir die digitale Transformation schaffen
BookID 148511028
ISBN 9783328101925
(see LibraryThing.com card)
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Description (from Amazon)---
My review: 4/5It could be read as an example of storytelling about what needs to be done to do a "digital transformation" of a whole society- and that was my initial intent.

But after previewing it and reading specific sections, and then browsing it again few times cover-to-cover, ended up using it as a kind of "pathfinder" for my own investigations about my own country, Italy, and to cross-check more in detail many of the USA-based stories outlined or referenced by the author.

Overall, I think that you might read it cover-to-cover, and will give you some value.

But the real value is getting through it, and then returning to its chapters after you go on a "guided serendipity" across other material.

On this side, is similar to a couple of books about Italy that this book actually inspired me to read (no, it doesn't quote them):
"Ricchi per caso" https://www.librarything.com/work/20875132/book/149792748
"Cosa sa fare l'Italia" https://www.librarything.com/work/19059723/book/138520087

Back to "Silicon Germany".

Interesting the concept spread here and there that many companies in Germany are thinking not about adopting a disruptive business model (i.e. moving from a steady state to a new steady state), but to embrace change by switching concept of business.

"Siemens was 1847 selbst ein Start-up - gegründet im einer Berliner Hinterhof", sagt Vostandschef Joe Kaeser. "Mit next47 folgen wir den Idealean unseres Gründers." Ab dem 1. Oktober 2016 bündelt Siemens alles, was mit Start-ups zu tun hat, in next47. In neueu Gründungen und Beteiligungen soll in den nächsten fünf Jahren eine Milliarde Euro investiert werden. Next47 wird im kalifornischen Berkeley, in Shanghai und München vertreten sein. Investitionsschwerpunkte sind moderne Antrebstechnik, künstliche Intelligenz, autonome Maschinen, dezentrale Elektrifizierung und vernetzte Mobilität."

Siemens isn't the only one in Germany.

It is part of the overall concept of disposing with business models- as your business model becomes thinking everyday, as some said, as if it were day one.

Or: no matter how long a process or product has been around or how much as been invested into it- if it doesn't work, you are not going to dump more money into a money furnace.

And while you would need the production facilities of a Siemens to manufacture some of its products, the overall cost structure of a large company often creates too much overhead for what is needed to work on new products and technologies.

In the end, it is akin to what was done by some EU funding, that supported R&D and the pre-market phase, assuming that then businesses would turn that into a market reality.

But we live in different times from the 1980s.

For example, banks and insurances used for decades external agents to sell their own products, ditto car makers.

Nonetheless, this model worked fine while you had a "captive" control downstream, as no agent could e.g. turn itself into a private bank or a car maker.

Only that, in this case, innovations in marketing and technology allows to create "virtual" companies at almost no cost (e.g. even a tiny company can have first rate ICT with minimal or no investment to start with, by using AWS, Azure, etc), including by composing their own products and services with off-the-shelf product and services.

Therefore, large manufacturing and service companies have been set up their own "research arm" as it has been done for a long time within the Pharma industry- you take over some of the risk and cost, but benefit from most of the benefits.

Many large companies had in the late XX century their own R&D, of course, but then they had no "start-up mindset" within their walls- what was created by R&D either turned into something manageable with the existing corporate structure, or was of no interest- witness the case of the IBM PC at the beginning, that opened the door to Microsoft.

The interesting part is of course the usual (if you read other books on digital transformation): your company might end up finding that the future revenue stream is in an unknown market.

As Dieter Zetsche said at the IAA 2016 in Frankfurt: "Mercedes-Beny wandelt sich vom Automobilhersteller zum vernetzten Mobilitätsanbieter... Wird sind kein Autohersteller mehr. Wir stellen dem Kunden immer die Mobilität zur Verfügugn, die er gerade benötigt. Diese digitale Transformation ist bei uns in vollem Gange."

And over the last year I heard the same concept shared by one of their German competitors- in Milan and Turin.

But it is not just consumer product companies that are trying to extract benefits from digitalization- also steel producers can benefit from having better understanding of their corporate customers' needs, and their customers of the possibilities offered by existing facilities.

So, already manufacturing companies started seeing that managing the data of how their products are used, and turning that into information for their customers, to allow e.g. making their cost structure more flexible and reduce overheads, could in some cases generate more revenues than just selling the product.

Yes, it is akin to using the ink-jet printer market model also for... power stations and cars.

The book is not technical- at all, but provides many case studies within directions should you be interested in knowing more.

Beside the collection of case studies, the book contains also path through the building blocks of a "digital transformation" of a whole country.

Some bits are frankly difficult to apply in other countries, but the book has a much welcome "systemic perspective" that covers also the social and political sphere, as well as regulatory issues.

You cannot expect too much depth in a book covering all of the above (plus the future) in 350 pages, but it is a good starting point.

Would be interesting to see have an Italian translation to send to few people...

[Review released on 2018-05-28}
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