DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IN FAMILY BUSINESSES
We stand at the dawn of a digital age, and its social changes will shape the economy for at least the next thirty years. In the context of family businesses, it is clear that new technologies will play a key role and produce many questions: To what extent can and must family businesses introduce new technologies? To what extent will all of their contacts, abilities and resources be used? Are there weak points? Does the business lack any of the abilities needed to make use of new trends and technologies and strengthen competitiveness? This context involves important questions of strategy as well as personnel matters, such as recruitment and staff development, which all are encompassed by this theme.
HARNESSING THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES AND TRENDS
Digitalisation means primarily that family businesses don’t just have to look out for the latest technologies and trends, but also integrate them into their everyday business, such as by optimising their internal processes and procedures and upgrading their portfolios of products and services. But what technologies and trends make sense to different kinds of family businesses? How can digital technologies and trends help make processes more efficient? How can products and services be digitalised? These are questions that family businesses must ask if they are to profit from digitalisation.
DIGITAL TECHNOLOGIES AND TRENDS MEAN ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
Integrating digital technologies and trends generally means organisational change for family businesses. But it also means new options for innovative business models and strategic direction. As a further consequence, internal structures such as organisational procedures and formations have to be reconsidered. The workforce, and the management level especially, have to accept and actively engage in digital change. All this demands the systematic management of internal company change, so as to harmonise the opportunities and potential of digitalisation with the positive characteristics of family businesses, such as traditional values, and with the challenges family businesses face, such as generational conflicts and the strict demands of the business and its owners.
LITERATURE (SELECTION AVAILABLE IN GERMAN)
- WIFU essay series: Leberling, A. (2012): E-Commerce-Strategien von Familienunternehmen. Göttingen: V&R Verlag.
- Artikel: Bretschneider, U.& Heider, A. K. (2018): Familien und die Crowd. In: Private Wealth, Issue 02/2018, pp. 106-107.
- Artikel: Rüsen, T. & Heider, A. (2018): Die digitalisierte Unternehmerfamilie. In: Private Wealth, Issue 2/2018, pp. 106-107.