Panel discussion on Digital Transformation at Strategy Forum

I recently was a speaker at a panel discussion of Swiss top management Strategieforum (translates strategy forum) and really enjoyed our discussion about digital transformation challenges. With me on stage we had Christian Petit, Head of Business Clients of local Telco Giant Swisscom, Thierry Kneissler, CEO of an in-house start-up of Swiss Postfinanz and with his Twint payment solution radically modifying the Swiss payment market.

Podium Discussion at Strategie Forum in Zurich
Podium Discussion at Strategie Forum in Zurich

Finally I had next to me on the podium the Head of Digital from Ringier Tom Kaiser, interesting situation as Ringier is probably the toughest competitor to Doodle‘s parent company Tamedia AG in Switzerland.

But hey, Doodle is such a wonderful success story, and one of the very few digital business models, that are globally known, I usually call Doodle being an example from Digital Switzerland that is as well known as Swiss chocolate in the wide world.

What are the challenges for Swiss Digital Disruptors?

Tom and I were mutually agreeing that Swiss start-ups have a fantastic playing field with excellent education in its well funded universities and a truly international employee base in this wealthy country. However the dilemma for Swiss entrepreneurs comes with the second or even third financing round. Anything above the 10m Swiss Franc (or say US Dollar) mark is hard to get in Switzerland, Swiss entrepreneurs need to leave the country and head to Berlin, London or even the Silicon Valley for such money.

Other findings on this current topic were:
– there is a risk that the bigger corporates keep focusing on the digitalisation of the current business despite the need to radically change their thinking. A great example was the Twint foundation and re-positioning in recent months in order to act completely free of any restriction the business of its parent company Postfinanz might impose;
– the customer experience determines success (or failure) of new business models, anybody who transforms through digital means isn’t immune to new transformation or even disruption;
– ‘think customer spaces’ not classic industries, some of the best talent in FinTech these days have never worked in banks themselves;
– think big, think international: potential transformation and disruption can happen from anywhere in the world, digital brands are global brands, here the Doodle success as the standard for global online scheduling is a good example.

The event was really successful as it allowed for enough time to continue discussions between panel speakers but also with event participants in the many breaks, I myself made great contacts on the day and also learned about the daily challenges of ongoing digital transformation in larger corporates from Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

Michael Brecht

Good turnout at digital transformation panel
Good turnout at digital transformation panel