“Digitalization is a matter for the boss” – a familiar phrase. But how do things look in practice? Which German companies are getting to grips with digitalization. And which ones aren’t? A new study by IT market researcher techconsult puts medium-sized enterprises under the spotlight and provides answers.

In a cross-industry survey entitled  “Digitalization Enablers in Medium-Sized Enterprises” supervisors, managers, and senior executives from key departments were asked about the progress of digitalization in their companies.

Implementation is sluggish

Many studies highlight the need for action in the area of digital transformation. This is also the case in the survey by techconsult: it reveals that the implementation of digital processes is still stuck in the test or implementation phase. Businesses are still feeling their way with a few selected processes. The service sector, at 36 percent digitalization, is only just in the lead. And if you compared what businesses say about the relevance of digitalization in their own companies with that of their own implementation status, you’d get a mixed picture. The dark blue area in the graph shows companies that have not yet achieved the level they themselves want.

All or nothing?

When evaluating specific processes in the departments, two results are particularly striking: First, a high degree of digitalization in most cases has a significantly positive effect on the implementation quality of the processes. Second, a medium or only partial digitalization of a process often leads to a much poorer implementation than if there were no digitalization at all. An overall approach is therefore essential to avoid as many interfaces as possible between manual and digital data processing. Close interconnection of information sources is a must.

Management responsibility

The study also asked about the biggest drivers of digitalization. Just over a third said that the IT department is a “driver or strong driver.” This is followed by the senior management team with just under a third and the departments themselves with about 28 percent. Both are barely behind the IT department and they play a part in implementing digitalization in many firms. A one-sided approach would be counterproductive, so senior managers should ensure that all areas of the company actively tackle the issue.