A recent study by the WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management has shown that Germany’s family-owned businesses, the pillar of our economy, are lagging far behind in terms of digitization.

“What seems almost omnipresent in public discourse today, only a minority of family-owned companies in Germany are using,” says Nadine Kammerlander, head of the Chair of Family Businesses at WHU and co-author of the study.

Particularly large catch-up demand exists for pioneering future technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), block chain and Big Data. But even comparatively simple IT solutions such as cloud computing or web analytics are only rarely used by family businesses.

Kammerlander also predicts that this reticence towards new technologies could cost SMEs a lot: “Depending on the industry, this could go on for another five or maybe ten years. But then competitiveness will have fallen so much that there may even be existential difficulties.

But where does the fear of change come from?

According to the WHU study, the biggest obstacles are acquisition and introduction costs that are perceived as too high, a lack of specialized knowledge, but also fears of technical problems at the interface between existing applications and new technologies. However, around 50% of the 1500 companies surveyed stated that they were well aware of the necessity and potential of new technologies.

For some companies, these fears are certainly also due to bad experiences with digital agencies and consultants, which caused high costs and ultimately did not provide any recognizable added value.

In order to help German medium-sized companies not to lose the connection in the field of artificial intelligence despite the currently still prevailing concerns, we have developed our DDG Co-Innovation Model

, where we build ki-based solutions for everyday problems together with our medium-sized partners – fast, unbureaucratic and result-oriented. We take part in the risk and bear part of the costs incurred for the development. After the newly created solution has been tested thoroughly, we will use it to establish an independent company in which both partners will hold shares.

This is how we build the next digital hidden champions “Made in Germany”.

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