Digitalisation Action better than reaction
The International Butchers' Confederation (IBC) once again brought together a high-calibre group of experts on the podium. IBC President Jean-Marie Oswald firmly believes that: "The future belongs to paperless companies." This was also underlined by Alexander Riedl of the Connect Directorate-General in the EU Commission. However, only about one fifth of all SMEs in Europe are currently using digital technologies. And the picture differs greatly from one Member State to another. Riedl: "We still don't have a level playing field in Europe."
The Commissioner spelled out how important digital strategies are for market survival to an audience of MEPs, delegates from various European butchers' associations, and trade representatives. Encouraging new generations of young talent, responding to customers' individual wishes, promoting health awareness, traceability, transparency, automation and monetisation of customer relationships – digitalisation can help in all of this, said Riedl, offering encouragement to the master butchers.
Taking small steps to reach the goalThe craft butcher associations play an important role here. This emerged clearly during the panel discussion in Brussels. They have to offer their members manageable, easy-to-adopt, tailor-made solutions that help break down the inhibitions surrounding this field which is highly complex and often alien to craftsmen. From his own experience, Stephan Blank of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) also confirmed that "...many people view this topic as if it were Mount Everest. We need manageable applications suitable for craftsmen." He believes that digitalisation can provide useful assistance in responding to demographic change – but only if we embrace it.
There is no single strategy for pursuing digitalisation in companies. Each firm has to define its own goals. Experts from the Chambers of Crafts, for example, can provide help, explained Blank.
Alexander Riedl also suggested encouraging 'best-practice transfers' by looking at what the competition is doing. Riedl's second tip: bring young people into the company, either on a permanent or freelance basis.
Tim Reintgen from Plytix highlighted a possible starting point for engaging with the digital world. The Danish-Spanish company provides analytical tools for sorting and interpreting the sheer mass of product information – and exploiting it for the various distribution channels. The start-up won the Digitaleurope SME-Award for this.