FUTURE SHAPERS AND THE POWER OF CHANGE
Imagine opening the door to a world where technological progress and social change go hand in hand. There you’ll meet the “Generation Alpha” – born in 2010 and beyond, raised in an era of rapid technological advancements and social change….
This generation is not only revolutionizing the way we do business and use technology, but also providing new opportunities for business development and collaboration.
What characterizes Generation Alpha?
DIGITAL NATIVES AS NEVER BEFORE: For Generation Alpha, there are no boundaries between the physical and digital worlds. While their parents – the Millennials – experienced the transition to the digital age, the Alphas know nothing else. They grew up digitized: smartphones, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) or Internet of Things (IoT) are not just technologies – they are extensions of their identity and self-image.
What used to be simple building blocks to stack and play with are now Lego bricks with AR functionalities. Which make it possible to experience virtual adventures in the physical world. Even the traditional surprise egg nowadays offers QR codes for digital, virtual experiences with their characters. And cool outfits now play an increasingly important role not only in our physical world, but also in the digital world of fashion.
COLLECTIVE AWARENESS: Influenced by the globalized nature of our modern world, Generation Alpha has a deep awareness of their role within the larger global network. Their perspective on issues such as climate change and environmental protection, social justice and equality is not only resolute, but also hopeful and purposeful.
ADAPTABLE AND READY TO LEARN: In a constantly changing world, Generation Alpha sees change not as an exception, but as the rule. Not as a risk, but as an opportunity. With an instinctive understanding of technology and social change, they are willing to learn new things, challenge ideas, and constantly and purposefully evolve their views.
GENERATION ALPHA AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Even though some of them are not even born yet, the way Generation Alpha sees the world is already changing markets and business today. Now, it is the right time to focus on the Next Generation and actively incorporate values, needs and behaviors into business development.
Just remember the stories we told our grandparents to explain how our first iPhone worked… Alphas will be the engine of such stories. In the context of corporate change and innovative business models. This generation expects companies to operate transparently and responsibly – at all levels. Technological advancement, user-centricity and user experience, coupled with deep social consciousness, will form the backbone of successful companies of the future.
5 TOPICS OF GENERATION ALPHA THAT CAN ALREADY BE USED TODAY FOR SUCCESSFUL COMPANY DEVELOPMENT:
1. Sustainability is not a trend, it’s a must: In a world influenced by climate change, younger generations expect companies not just to speak out, but to actually act. Go ahead. Create impact. Companies must therefore take measurable steps toward a sustainable future. Green initiatives, recycling and circular economy or renewable energies are just a few examples of expectations that are becoming increasingly important. For the Alphas, the WHY of a company is at least as important as the WHAT. Companies should therefore consider Next Generation topics such as Clean Planet, Sharing Economy or Social Impact as growth areas for new services and business models. In this way, they can position themselves to be robust and fit for the future.
2. Innovative work models: The classic 9-to-5 work week could soon be obsolete and the traditional office a relic of the past. Generation Alpha is growing up in a time when remote work and flexible working models are experiencing more and more acceptance on the labor market. To be attractive to Alphas as employers, remote work, project-based roles and a greater focus on work-life integration are playing an increasingly important role. In the face of the prevailing skills shortage challenge, companies need to proactively reflect and adapt their working conditions and models. In order to position themselves as a first-class employer of choice, it is not only advisable, but essential, to already pay attention to Generation Alpha. After all, they are the driving professionals and experts of tomorrow. With new requirements and expectations of the employer of choice.
3. Technology with a human touch: While Generation Alpha is tech-savvy and digital-centric, they also value the human factor and social contact above all. Companies should use technology accordingly. Promote human relationships, not replace them, and drive corporate development in the spirit of co-creation. This means regularly involving employees, partners and also customers. After all, with all the successful technologies and advances of our digital age, success is still made by people – an essential factor for Generation Alpha.
Alphas are digitally connected and already use many versatile digital platforms – for gamification, authenticity, self-actualization and boundless creative power:
Just try it out and get creative! Learn by gamification with Kohoot!. Share authentic snapshots with BeReal. Become an artist yourself with Procreate on your tablet or smartphone. Or create your own game worlds easily with Roblox and share them with others.
4. Collaboration over competition: In the digitally networked world of Generation Alpha, a clear trend is emerging: the focus is on cooperation, not fierce competition. This change in values is driven primarily by platforms such as TikTok and various gaming communities. Instead of growing up in an environment of rivalry, they are experiencing the power and value of collaborative action and creative cooperation. For business development, this means always focusing on collaboration.
A company, for example, that wants to develop a digital service app for Generation Alpha should look beyond the traditional framework. Integrating gamification elements – from simple reward systems to complex interactive features – is not only desirable, but almost a must. It is not just a nice add-on, but an adaptation to the expectations of a generation characterized by playful and cooperative experiences.
5. Diversity and inclusion: For Generation Alpha, diversity is not a fad, but a matter of course. Companies must promote diversity in all aspects – from corporate management to product development. This includes taking a more diverse view of target groups and markets as well. Proactively identifying new market opportunities and digital business opportunities and shaping them at an early stage: For and with Generation Alpha.
SHAPING THE FUTURE AND THE POWER OF CHANGE
Generation Alpha are not only a new wave of consumers and workers, but also the architects of a new era of business and technology models. The future we are heading toward is already being shaped significantly by Generation Alpha. Alphas bring not only a fresh perspective and deep understanding of technology, but also a vision for a more inclusive, sustainable and collaborative world.
Now, it’s time to learn and embark on a shared journey with this remarkable generation. To be robust and future-fit, companies should position themselves with and for the Alphas. From organizational culture, collaborative work models to requirements for future attractive growth markets and innovative business models.
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Shortage of skilled workers
HOW INNOVATION AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES SUPPORT
Four use cases
Many companies of different sizes are increasingly confronted with the challenge of a growing shortage of skilled workers. Our innovation and technology consultants give insights into four use cases how innovations and new technologies can help meet this challenge:
#1 Creating added value for skilled workers with innovation and new technology
Creating attractive working conditions means responding to the changing needs of skilled workers. This includes, for example, the increasing desire for flexible working time models or remote workplaces. For companies, however, it also means keeping their finger on the pulse of time. Not standing still and providing state-of-the-art work equipment and technologies. Thus enabling hygiene and also enthusiasm factors for skilled workers. Cobots in production. VR glasses on the shop floor. Digital, voice-controlled assistants in the lab. The use of exoskellets in construction or logistics. Just a few examples of how added value is created for skilled workers by new technologies and innovation.
#2 Overcoming bottlenecks with organizational innovations
It is not only about using new technologies, but also about adapting the organization – i.e. culture and also mindset – to the changes of the times. Rethink and restructure. And drive innovation within the organization as well. This includes, for example, new working models that address demographic changes. And which offer opportunities to make optimum use of know-how and resources. Or strengthening existing partnerships and collaborations. To outsource parts of the value chain and concentrate resources on the company’s own strengths and core business.
Innovations and new technologies can simplify and automate workflows and processes in many cases. Bottlenecks resulting from a shortage of skilled workers can thus be countered with new technologies. This does not replace skilled workers – but it does relieve them. And the potential and skills can be better utilized. There are many examples along the value chain. For example, how about using remote and AR technologies to present products not in stores, but in digital showrooms independent of time and place? How about allowing guests to check in independently at a hotel via digital terminals, just like at the airport? Or enabling customers to conduct banking transactions online and even sign digitally – without having to shedule a personal meeting?
#4 New technologies for new skilled workers – from everywhere
More and more companies are deploying workers far outside their own company radius. After all, home offices and remote working are no longer foreign words for most companies. New technologies such as video conferencing and real-time platforms, collaboration tools and digital whiteboards make it possible to reach – and hire – professionals from anywhere in the world. This is how you can attract professionals who previously seemed “unreachable”.
Do you also want to counteract the shortage of skilled workers with new innovations and technologies? Then let’s dive into your individual fields of opportunity together. We listen to you – your topics are our starting point.
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Hello from Shenzen
How China is creating Silicon Valleys, just like on an assembly line
In the 1980’s Bill Gates and Steve Jobs built innovative computers. At the same time, China understood that new technologies are a key success factor of a national economy’s future. No sooner said than done. Put the pedal on the metal. Built a city from scratch. Silicon Valley: from zero to one. Shenzhen: from zero to a 17m population and a hot spot for innovation. How? In this EARLY BRANDS insight Alexander gives some fresh insights into his experiences and meetings with people on the spot – from Bremen around the world.
Already today China‘s “Greater Bay Area” with Shenzhen has an economic power similar to Russia. In the next 10 years it is going to hold a top 5 position worldwide. With high speed, more than 110m inhabitants will rock the future in the smallest of spaces. How many people in Germany have ever heard of Shenzhen? Silicon Valley may become old school. Shenzhen is new school. As early as in primary school, children get taught robotics and artificial intelligence + much more.
S H E N Z H E N – On the pulse of time. But why?
SPEED: A high innovation speed. Already today, state of the art digital innovations with Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor technology is realized two to three times faster than “Made in Germany”. Originally being a location to produce smartphones like iPhone & Co., Shenzhen is much more than this today: a fully interconnected space for rapid prototyping, manufacturing and user testing. From smart airport to IoT to real-time networks for mobility and energy.
HOLISTIC: Innovation efforts are integrated holistically. Innovation and research are the basic cornerstones for economic progress + prosperity of the population. Thus, economic promotions for AI, IoT, mobility innovations and digital competences due to education is closely related to multi-million invests of the economic system. For example: technology and digital company Huawei invests 15% of their revenue into research and innovation – the German economy only 3%.
ENERGY: Shenzhen is a big wheel of “digital innovation machine” China. The energy of the people: the unconditional will to reach prosperity. Six days a week. From nine to nine. And without holidays. In Shenzhen as a matter of course – 996 Work Culture.
NO REGULATORY BARRIERS: Government regulations on data collection, analysis and monetization are low. Provided that everything stays in China. Especially in establishing a pioneering role in AI in the health sector, this is a huge advantage. Another impressive example: mobility services.
ZOOM: With the central master plan 2025 and multi-billion financing, key technologies and innovative business models are catapulted forward: AI, IoT, mobility and green energy. If you like to dive deeper into this topic – here are some other impressive insights on China’s AI strategy. No wonder then that children learn to program robots visually even in elementary school.
HIGH PERFOMANCE: China already has more wind turbines than any other country. A total of 30% of all wind turbines worldwide. Massive investment is made in sustainable energy production. And this is where strong synergies with the ambitions surrounding the “Internet of Things” and “Artificial Intelligence” emerge. This is because networking makes it possible to precisely control the system and provide digital services.
ECONOMY OF SCALE: A gigantic market with more than 1.3 billion people. Innovative services and business models that connect people digitally are nowhere more scalable than here.
NO RETURN. NO WORRIES: There is only one direction for China and the Greater Bay Area with Shenzhen: forward. Why a Silicon Valley, if you can have more? China is on the rise. The “Digital Silk Road” is already in operation. In the cloud. In the street. Everywhere.
Is China going to outstrip the United States in many sectors? Step by step. Europe and Germany must go full throttle – and use and respect China as an innovation partner. Without questioning our core values.
Let’s rock together.
Catch the Future…!
A breakfast with Xing Ma
Impressions from a dynamic innovation landscape in Shenzhen
Thing we can learn and adapt
From Alexander Witte
Shenzhen, September 2019. It is still dark when alarm rings at 4 am. Fast in the sneakers, “Shared Bike” is activated with the Digital Platform “WeChat” and he is ready to go. Xing Ma sprints up three floors. No elevator? “No,” replies the 23-year-old, “I’m faster on foot. The package has to be delivered as soon as possible”. The young Cantonese is a courier for local delivery services such as S.F. Express and now delivers to Tencent’s new headquarters. “Time is money in Shenzhen,” he says.
Only a few people in Germany know S.F. Express or Tencent, but on this September morning the delivery service is worth an estimated six billion euros and thus about as valuable as the Deutsche Lufthansa. The technology company Tencent is even worth 350 billion euros.
Xing Ma stops at a small stall for breakfast. He simply pays for the soup and soy drink by scanning the QR code on the price tag. The app on his Huawei smartphone comes from Tencent and is called “WeChat”. Unlike WhatsApp, more than a million mini programs run on just this one app. Xing Ma can arrange a bicycle insurance, pay his electricity bill and even pay taxes with one digital platform. He also uses the platform for the best route in real time to deliver the next package. So, the WeChat app offers young Chinese people what Facebook, WhatsApp Messenger, Amazon, Uber, Apple Pay, Deliveroo or even the Runtastic sports app can only do individually. And it can do so much more.
What seems to be an incidental encounter almost 10,000 km away from Germany, has a lot to offer. This is because there are questions that should concern us in Germany. Not only in the next few years, but now.
Why does the young Chinese man not take the elevator, but rather sprints up the stairs?
Anyone who works 6 days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. has only one goal: to get to the top, participate in social prosperity and growth and always keep the customer in focus.
Success in the digital age is a long-distance race. It is no longer valid to think like the old ways, markets, and forms of innovation from the 90s.
The technology company Huawei from China currently invests 15% of its turnover in digital innovation and research. How much does your company invest in these topics? In the case of innovation and new business models, greed is anything but good. Because with innovations and new business models is how you get/keep your competitive advantage.
Of course, you and your sales team will continue to be successful in your operative business tomorrow morning – but at the same time, you should be a “facilitator of digital innovations”. This requires courage and entrepreneurial thinking and action.
There’s no alternative. No service provider or production company can create digital services and business models without customer feedback. As a coffee producer, you will otherwise be replaced by digital direct mail and Amazon. As a scrap distributor by decentralized scrap exchanges. And as a banker by WeChat, Apple Pay or Check24. As a lawyer by the Robotic solicitor and as a taxi driver not by MyTaxi, but by Airbus Air Shuttle Services with drones.
Why can there be a bicycle courier in China that can organize his life without a bank, credit card and cash, and is still able to pay his taxes?
Our bicycle courier with WeChat only needs an app for this. He can organize everything around his everyday life from a single source. The user prefers service experiences that flow into each other and are easy to use without leaving that medium. Just like WeChat, companies such as Spotify, N26 Bank are also taking this initiative. The compagnies who put their focus on customers in their innovation process and integrates them in the process, wins. The key to success is user experience, also for your company.
Why are companies that until recently only a few knew, became so valuable and gain importance every day?
Money flows to where the future lies or where it is strongly suspected. This can be seen if you look at the changes in global share indices over the past 10 years, there it went from the USA and Europe to China. Back then industrial companies, today innovative digital champions with the highest market capitalization. This also applies to Tencent in China.
In today’s age of innovation and creativity, companies that realize what innovative and creative customers need, and think beyond market and industry boundaries, are gaining in importance. Whether China or Northern Germany: If you are a production company, then you build creative business models with partners and customers that offer you new revenue streams. If you are a bank, then you can realize innovative financial experiences that make people more satisfied and make their everyday lives easier. And as a trading or logistics company, there are attractive opportunities to make customer processes simpler, more intuitive and anchor digital value-added services in them. The revenue potential, profit margins and growth potential from these innovations are just as exciting as your business today.
Why does China provide such valuable inspiration for us as entrepreneurs to courageously promote innovative services and business models?
While WeChat had around 450 million active users in 2015, 5 years later the figure was well over 1 billion. One reason is that the Chinese do not simply copy WhatsApp but offer the user real added value and reinvent themselves every day.
Another reason is “Thinking out of the box” and speed. This requires the recognition of opportunities for new business models across markets and industries, courageous investment and agile step-by-step implementation.
It is also about the corporate and leadership culture. If you offer a sales manager a higher salary for more turnover and profit, then he is guaranteed to sell more of what is already there. If you want to sell something new in one year or two years, then you need innovative business models that create customer value and new revenue streams.
What does this mean for Germany and Europe?
Innovation in the digital age only leads to prosperity in Germany and Europe if the added value also reaches your company and our society. Courageous entrepreneurial action is therefore a basic prerequisite for ensuring that socially insured people for example in Bremen, Hamburg or Hanover will also have a home in the future. Creative, fast and agile. Just like the bicycle courier Xing Ma from Shenzhen.
Originally published (in German) at: https://handelskammer-magazin.de/downloads/
Catch the Future…!
Startup Nation Israel
Things we can learn from Startup Nation Israel
Alexanders expedition through Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem
When we talk about innovation, new technologies and inspiring startups, there is no way around Israel. What are the reasons for that? What makes Israel such an innovation hotspot? In this EARLY BRANDS interview, Alexander gives insights into the startup nation Israel. Get inspired by his onsite experiences and meetings.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: Alexander – you got many insights into the startup nation Israel and keep contact with innovative companies from Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. What is Israel’s fancy label of being a “startup nation” about?
Alexander: In my opinion, the book-title “Start-up Nation Israel“ from Dan Senor suits very well. With more than 6,500 startups within an 8,5 million population, Israel leads the list of startups per capita. Moreover: after USA, Israel has the second most listed technology companies in the Nasdaq. The label “Startup Nation” can be compared with “Made in Germany” in the industrial era: a great quality message that perfectly fits with our dynamic innovation and knowledge era.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What are the success drivers for Israel as a startup nation?
Alexander: The Israelis perfectly master the mix. Education and IT-affine military IDF, Israel Defense Forces, are the origin and key for success. Companies continuously and quickly combine research and technology with market and customer needs. Moreover, cooperation, networking and deep trust in innovation networks is a great thing. Israeli boys and girls grow up with this spirit and they know how synergies rock forward already as teenagers. Thus, technologies, courage and pioneering spirit define their collaborative and successful future.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: In which innovation topics and technology fields is Israel particularly well positioned?
Alexander: Israelis are the “masters of deep tech” in our digital age. That means they are experienced in everything concerning high-tech and digital topics. More than 400 artificial intelligence and machine learning startups. 450 concerning to cybersecurity. More than 300 companies with strong focus on internet of things. 800 fintech’s. 250 big data companies. Plus clean tech. Plus more than 800 social media startups. Always in close communication and collaboration with each other. Always keeping one finger on the pulse of time.
It becomes clear as water: Israel’s focus is on future topics and technologies. Especially for deep technologies like artificial intelligence or cybersecurity, technological knowhow, experience and expertise from military is transferred into innovative applications for business and society – often supported by top research facilities like Technion Institute of Technology. For example: Intel collaborates with Technion to accelerate artificial intelligence topics – as strategic investment and innovation partner of the new AI research center in Haifa. Here, researchers and Intel jointly approach innovative applications for topic fields like health care, autonomous driving, connected environment and robotics.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: Do you have any examples for Israeli innovations we already use in our daily lives?
Alexander: Of course. There are many great examples. One of the most innovative navigation systems worldwide is Waze. It combines GPS navigation technologies with social swarm intelligence of road users and their smartphones. Thus, users always get the fastest way – depending on traffic and movement of the swarm. Another impressive example: OrCam. A small device that helps visually impaired and blind people to master their daily routines better and more independent. Vision computing, predictive text and voice control were combined to an innovative application. Also, the startup MobileEye is a great example. The startup enables Audi autonomous driving already today – for safer streets. Each of these three examples impressively shows how Israeli deep tech innovations are of great utility for our society. For social advance and a joint successful future.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What is most fascinating for you concerning startup nation Israel?
Alexander: In a nutshell: the passion for innovation and improvement. Israel is an island in the near East. Only as from size as Hesse and without significant resources. But: exactly that makes Israeli people so creative. Courageous. Inventive. And so forward-looking.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: What impact does this have on Israel’s startups and technology companies?
Alexander: First: Israeli startups think internationally from day one. That means, they always focus on multipliable business models from idea generation to market-ready prototypes. Instead of Israelite isolated applications, worldwide markets and customer needs were focused. Second: international collaborations are realized in an open, fast and dedicated way. From technology transfer, research through to spin-offs and cooperation. Same with networking, venture capital and varied startup accelerators like The Dock für Logistik und Maritime Wirtschaft. It impacts the whole innovation ecosystem. Therefore, Israeli are a very likeable and highly interesting partner – for innovation in Germany, Europe and worldwide.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: Are there further aspects which support Israel’s innovational power? What can we learn from them?
Alexander: Often, German companies are eager to develop and implement everything on their own, in-house. From idea generation to implementation. Doing so, everything must be from high engineering perfection. In our increasingly fast hyper-competition this approach does not work anymore. In a cross market and cross industry innovation contest broad perspectives are needed. In Israel, it is given to combine external technologies with capital, creative ideas and own strength for innovative business opportunities. Thus, advantages arise much easier and much faster.
EARLY BRANDS Insights: Last but not least: What should necessarily be on a bucket list for expeditions to the Silicon Wadi?
Alexander: Curiosity. Get yourself be inspired. From the openness and hospitality of Israel’s people. Start your day with a refreshing bath in the Mediterranean at Tel Aviv beach. Get inspired by the varied galleries and museums, e.g. at Rothschild Boulevard. At sunset: celebrate friendship with cool drinks and great conversations at Suramare – above the rooftops of Tel Aviv.
Start-Ups aus Tel Aviv sind technologisch weit vorn, doch auch die Kreativ- und Kunstszene ist ein Erlebnis. Hier die Video-Installationen im Suramare Root Top Club, Tel Aviv.
Another recommendation: explore historic city Jerusalem with locals. You literally feel the energy of this magic place and its sense for so many world religions. Beside these concrete destinations, keep one eye on great startups, potential technology partners and VC’s. For inspiration and spirit of discovery.
Catch the Future…!