Digital Darwinism – the final enemy of medium-sized businesses?

Digital Darwinism sets in when technologies and society change faster than the ability of companies to adapt to this change. Digitization and dematerialization lead to companies, industries, and even nations falling victim to the process and being sorted out. But digitization is nothing new and is currently the top trend. Isn’t it?


According to the latest findings of several studies, the situation is alarming. Small and medium-sized enterprises, which make up a good third of the German economy, are in danger of being left behind in foreign and domestic comparisons regarding digitalization issues (Bundesnetzagentur, 2022).

No longer is it enough to optimize the core business to expand one’s position. For companies to remain competitive in the digital age, the focus must instead be on expanding customer loyalty and using digital value-added services. The keyword here is digital business transformation!

Digital intensity in companies (Cf. Bundesnetzagentur (2022): Digitalisierung im Mittelstand in Zahlen).

Building blocks of a successful digital business transformation

In a study from 2021 summarizing the last 15 years, McKinsey shows that digital transformation is placing insurmountable obstacles in the path of many companies. Although they have recognized the necessity of digital transformation and have already taken the first steps, those affected often fail to make the initial decisions.

With Head of Solution Consulting Angela Taraben, we got to the bottom of the tricky situation facing small and medium-sized enterprises. With 20 years of professional experience in this field, she gave us an expert look behind the scenes of a successful digital business transformation.

Understanding digitization correctly!

As we have just seen, the transformation process can be doomed to failure from the very first decision-making phase. This is the case if digital transformation is misunderstood within the company. It is no longer sufficient for the future viability of a company to think in terms of existing structures and only optimize them. What is needed is the comprehensive use of digital technologies and data to innovate the company’s processes.


"Digitization does not mean transferring an Excel spreadsheet to the web! You need many more steps, and you must take the user by the hand in the process."

Digitization brings with it not only an innovative understanding of the business model but also a new generation of C-levels. Packed with new approaches and ideas, there is often a lack of experience and foresight regarding how the desire for new technology should be implemented. In addition to the highly critical implementation phase, goal setting and planning are almost as important. ,,Here we come into play,” says Ms. Taraben.

Reaching the goal together! - The partnership between customer and software provider

Customers approach a software provider with individual problems and sometimes already have clear ideas about how these should be solved. The provider’s task is to constructively question the latter – if necessary – without pressuring the customer to make a decision. However, this step-by-step assistance can only be realized within the framework of agile individual development,” states Taraben. The customer of standard software rarely, if ever, enjoys this cooperation. It is then up to him to recognize and solve the hurdles of digitalization.

"At the beginning, it is always a question of cost. But the biggest advantage of custom software is the all-round carefree package. The customer is never alone!"

A partnership develops between the customer and the software provider on the way to an individual digital business transformation. On the one hand, a successful transformation is shaped by factors in the company to be transformed itself, such as clarity about priorities, and investment of time and money. On the other hand, above all, successful joint change management is what holds everything together and leads to the goal. It is also clear that change always brings with it uncertainties. Not only for the customer and his business model but also users and employees. For collaboration to work, it is important to take these uncertainties seriously and work together to overcome them.

"You need to have some kind of intuition about the state of the people involved, and if someone has doubts, you go back to it together."

So what are the next steps?

The need to increase digital intensity in the midmarket is enormous. The current total revenue and market share in the Western European IIoT market are shockingly low, even though double-digit growth rates are forecast for this sector (VDMA, 2022). There is no denying that the shift to digital value-added services will lead companies to higher revenue rates and a more secure future. Several studies (McKinsey, 2021/Bidt, 2020) show that the path will not be easy. It comes down to a variety of measures that add up to pave the way for a digital business transformation. Having a partnership with a custom software provider and following an agile software development process ensures support in every situation. This is the only way to achieve the optimal balance between your own ideas and actual implementation without leaving users or employees behind. From day one!


assistant corporate development


head of digital transformation


Bayerisches Forschungsinstitut für Digitale Transformation (2020): Digitalisierung in Unternehmen im weltweiten Vergleich: Deutschlands “digitaler Reifegrad” nur Mittelmaß

McKinsey (2021): Losing from day one: Why even successful transformations fall short.

VDMA (2022): Business Transformation – Die Chance für den Maschinen- und Anlagenbau.

Bundesnetzagentur (2022): Digitalisierung im Mittelstand in Zahlen

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