Interview with Gerd Leonhard: Swiss SMEs have to start thinking from new angles (via S-GE)

Future of Business , Gerd Leonhard

End of February, Laura Angelstorf of Switzerland Global Enterprise interviewed Gerd Leonhard. Her article starts with a quote: “Something that worked well yesterday could be useless in five years,” says Gerd Leonhard.

“Mr. Leonhard, why do many people suppose that the creative business models of Uber and Airbnb are the business models of the future?

The key feature of businesses like Airbnb or Uber is how they use data – they’re platforms. The platform model is the number one model for major disruptors like Google, Facebook, Alibaba and Baidu. Technological platforms have been developed in order to create new business models based on technology and cloud computing. This is based on a very different approach than manufacturing a product that people want to buy. These new businesses say, ‘We have so much value in this overall system that no one can do without us.’ Aside from the platform, Airbnb and Uber actually don’t own anything, which makes their approaches incomparable. However, the time of disruption as the number one issue is coming to an end.

What does this mean for an established, traditional SME?

It’s different for every business. The most important way to prepare for the future is to recognize the context, to understand how it’s changed. The new competitors are the digital platforms; the most powerful companies in the world today are no longer the traditional oil corporations or banks, but the data and technology companies. If you recognize the context, you also see what the most important megashifts are. If companies can understand what’s happening around them and what could happen in the next 5 to 10 years, then they’re in a position to develop new ideas. The main problem with Swiss SMEs is that they don’t spend enough time thinking about what could happen in the near future. There’s a lack of foresight, imagination and conflict management ability.”

Read complete interview on Swiss Global Enterprise online

Related topics:

Podcast: Reimagining the Future

Podcast: Conversation with Tim Leberecht and Gerd Leonhard

Recommended read: ‘Technology vs. Humanity – the coming clash between man and machine‘ by Gerd Leonhard.

Gabriele Bauer


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