True to its name, TWENTY2X, the new leading trade show covering digital transformation solutions for the SME sector, is kicking off in year 1 of this century’s "roaring twenties". So let’s get out our crystal ball and gaze at the trends and technologies that will shape the fortunes of small and medium enterprises in the coming decade. In doing so, let’s not concern ourselves with lofty visions of an uncertain future, but with robust forecasts and information that provide a sound decision-making basis for business and IT solutions for the near future. In other words, let’s not worry yet about quantum supremacy, bio chips, nanoscale 3D printing, AI PaaS and the other future technologies mentioned in the Gartner Hype Cycle, but instead will focus on technologies that have a high probability of entering the mainstream. After all, TWENTY2X is very much about getting down to business.

The digital transformation of business and society will continue apace, and the same can be said for the digital technologies that are driving the transformation process. The volume and speed of data capture, processing, storage and analysis continue to grow exponentially. Expectations are that Moore’s Law will hold true for at least another decade – and quite possibly well beyond that.

While this will open up a multitude of new opportunities, it is not in itself a guarantee of success. The beneficiaries are technology providers, consultants and IT professionals as well as commercial and private users. Our private and or professional lives will become more comfortable and convenient – and more closely interwoven. They will also be fundamentally transformed by new and improved technologies. After all, "transformation" is about things that have existed previously, but that have been modified, adapted or completely reinvented. In other words, transformation is about change, and change takes time, money and hard work. It can also be painful, which is why it’s often controversial. But it is inevitable, thanks to relentless competitive pressure and disruption, the inherent benefits of greater efficiency, and the ever-increasing expectations of customers, employees, suppliers and investors.Innumerous studies and analyses undertaken by business development agencies, research organizations, banks, business consultants and journalists all come to the same conclusion: That SMEs in the DACH countries are still dragging the chain when it comes to embracing digital technologies, innovating, and investing, and are showing little interest and imagination when it comes to exploring the possibilities offered by big data, the platform economy, AI, machine learning and integrated production. The message, too, is always the same: The train is about to leave the station and you need to be on it. On one level, the reluctance of SMEs is understandable, given the oftentimes unclear costs and benefits of digital technologies, not to mention the associated data protection and security considerations, especially when it comes to the all-important subject of the Internet of Things. And so we see an ongoing struggle between those advocating for a prudent, conservative approach and those ready and willing to take a leap of faith – a struggle which is often framed as an intergenerational conflict at the management level. Whether this is true or not is open to debate, however, one thing is certain: it’s a struggle that benefits precisely nobody.

It’s time for a well-reasoned approach. And for highlighting a few basic facts.

First: Business and technology are like Siamese twins different but inseparable. In fact, companies’ corporate strategies and technology or development strategies have never more closely intertwined than they are today. One would be useless without the other. Companies are less and less able to achieve their business objectives without technology. And few companies can afford to invest in technologies that don't tangibly contribute to their business objectives. That’s why the agendas of CEOs and CIOs are becoming increasingly aligned. The same is true of companies’ business and IT departments. The " Business Management " display area at TWENTY2X will showcase many ideas, applications and solutions that support this convergence process. more

Second: Companies’ digitalization and digital transformation journeys tend to start like any other project ...

...with the basic three questions "Where are we now?", "Where do we want to be?" and "How do we get there?". It’s as simple as that. But it’s also complex because it needs to involve a thorough, transparent and, above all, honest analysis of a multitude of criteria and indicators. So-called digital readiness checks can help with this analysis. They involve auditing the current business strategy, technologies, products and services, organizational structure, processes and, not least, the people who will be involved. There are numerous models and methods for defining objectives and planning the transformation journey. All are designed to bring to light a company’s ambitions and potential, deal with complexity and prioritize decision making. Put simply, they enable companies to proceed with confidence. It’s a mission and purpose they share with the exhibitors and speakers at TWENTY2X. more

Third: Digital companies need to be open

But not leaky. A fundamental first step for SMEs and family-owned companies is to open themselves up to outside scrutiny by third parties who have the expertise they need to implement modern innovation management and digital ecosystems, such as platform-based business models. A key question in this context is: Should I operate my own platform or would it be safer to partner with others and use their platform? Whatever the answer might be, one thing is for certain – partnering with others will become increasingly important in the future. That’s why collaboration tools and smart sourcing, but also IP protection will all feature prominently at TWENTY2X, including in the New Work " and " New Tech and Startups " display areas.

Fourth: A CIO is responsible for setting up and heading the "Near Future Department".

IT bosses not only need to ensure their agenda is aligned with the CEOs’, they also need to provide a digital infrastructure which enables the ongoing innovative evolution of business models, processes and products. This evolution needs to be increasingly driven by market intelligence, i.e. information about customers and their needs. That’s why tomorrow’s tech managers, just like their present day counterparts in sales, will need to factor the customer’s viewpoint into all of their decisions. Since they are experts on digital customer interfaces, this should not require a big change in mindset. In summary, the CIOs of small and medium enterprises will increasingly be involved in developing products and services that have proven market potential. TWENTY2X will feature market-ready digital technologies that will help them do this.

Fifth: Speaking of technologies, there is a dizzying variety of technologies available on the market – everything from "must-have" to "hot air

". But which are which? To answer this question, it helps to get an overview of the mainstream options. Most of these revolve around the concepts of data and data-driven automation, integration, visualization and analytics. Artificial intelligence is only a small, additional step away. Connectivity, which is needed to integrate everything with everything else, opens the door to smart production and the Internet of Things. As a consequence, desktop computing is increasingly taking a back seat, while ubiquitous computing – the collective background processing power of a multitude of devices that are linked via cloud – is having an ever-bigger impact on our daily lives. So perhaps the even bigger question is "What does all this mean for us?" The experts and exhibitors s at this year’s TWENTY2X show have the answers

The time has come!

For digital transformation. And for buying your ticket to the TWENTY2X show

At TWENTY2X you will find concrete answers to the many questions small and medium enterprises have about digitalization and process optimization.

Good reasons for your participation More about TWENTY2X