Supporting digital transformation at the policy front
Digital transformation and Industry 4.0 are disrupting the conventional economy and can be felt within every sector. While digital transformation could lead to positive effects such as increased competitiveness, higher value-added, increased productivity and higher flexibility, it also brings along challenges for companies and policy makers to harness the opportunities provided. Digital transformation will for instance fundamentally change business models, industry structures, innovation models, and value chains. This makes that companies have to rethink how to create, distribute and capture value in the digital transformation era. Additionally, policy makers have to make sure that legislation remains adept to this digital revolution and that policy instruments can still optimally support the economy.
IDEA Consult is involved in multiple projects to support both companies and policy makers in this regard. We would like to highlight this with three recent projects:
- For DG GROW/EASME we are part of a consortium (with four other companies) that is developing a Study on the Competitiveness of the EU Engineering Industries and the Impact of Digitalisation. This study will still run until summer 2020. In the project, IDEA Consult is responsible for the analysis of the extent, impact, challenges and opportunities of digital transformation (for the engineering industry). More specifically, we pinpoint how digital transformation is having an impact on competitiveness and what barriers and challenges in assimilating digital technologies can be identified. At the same time, we elaborate on the opportunities and solutions for a flexible adaption to digitalisation and formulate recommendations to firms and policy makers.
- For DG GROW/EASME, IDEA Consult – as part of a consortium of nine countries – is involved since 2018 in a project that has established and operates a virtual European Advanced Manufacturing Support Centre to help SMEs assess the possibility of adopting advanced manufacturing solutions in order to transform their organisations towards next-generation factories with more competitive, modern and sustainable production (project runs still 2021). This support centre (labelled as the ADMA Initiative) provides support for SMEs to define, prioritise and carry out transformation plans to become Factories of the Future. For this purpose, the initiative builds further on the experience of the Made Different programme in Belgium and the expertise of the core consortium partners in the provision of services to SMEs in the field of Advanced Manufacturing. Currently more than 80 supporting organisations in Europe are backing the ADMA Initiative. Furthermore, already more than 81 companies have received support. As part of the project, IDEA Consult also coordinates 15 Learning Network Events to foster peer-learning and sharing good practices among more than 100 CEOs of advanced SMEs across Europe.
- For the Department of Work and Social Economy (WSE) at the Flemish Government, we have just finalised a study on Digital transformation at company level. More specifically, the study examines drivers of digital transformation and examines the impact on human capital. Within this study, we have identified common pitfalls, challenges and success factors of this digital transformation and analysed the role of the government and intermediary organization. Fur this purpose, we have with cases studies of five digital frontrunners in diverse sectors in Flanders. The cross-case analysis clearly showed that digital transformation has a very transversal nature and has an impact on every layer and division of the company. To conclude the study, we have formulated a set up of learning effects and recommendations for companies, policy makers and intermediary organization in order to make digital transformation a success in Flanders. We expect that the study will soon be published by the Flemish government.