The digitalization of industry demands that we embark on a new path never before taken in the industry: from tangible to intangible value creation. To do this, the right people must come together to do what is necessary, together. That is my dream. It is achievable.

Digitalization cannot simply be bought. Nor can it be introduced or implemented like new software for administration. Industrial value creation is still almost exclusively product sales. Services based on industrial products have hardly been invented and play a completely insignificant role. What has long been a matter of course for smartphones and PCs is not even a thought here for most people. Because it hasn’t existed yet, it’s also hard to imagine.

How do you get fewer products that last longer and get an update every now and then? To affordable and gladly paid services from a secure cloud? These questions are not to be answered by one of the often overrated consulting groups. They do not lie in the selection of the right software for industrial processes and products. Nor in the appropriate use of the best AI platforms. All of this is rather, at the very end, the simple selection of the appropriate tools.

On the one hand, companies have the answers in-house, in the heads of their employees, all of whom know much more than just the right sequence of actions for which they are paid. Their knowledge is just not usually sought after.

The answers can sometimes be found in other companies to learn from. For example, they belong to a different industry, are not direct competitors. Or they are no competitors in the complex of questions that is currently at issue.

The answers can also come from the minds of people who have decades of experience they are happy to contribute.

Where the decision makers could take placeThe painful lack of knowledge about ways and means to transform entire companies is something many are aware of. I believe that a platform can be helpful for this, where entrepreneurs, managers, researchers and employees can exchange ideas about the pressing issues and through which they can also quickly access the missing knowledge and the right experts.

What is needed is a community of interests that brings clear added value for all members. Vis-à-vis the associations, in which they are of course also members; vis-à-vis the funding projects, which usually serve only one specific goal; vis-à-vis trade fairs and conferences dedicated to one industry or one special topic.

The core of the special interest group must be the decision-makers, managing directors and technical directors. After all, it is all about future business and how companies as a whole are put on a new track.

It is excellent if they come from very different industries: from machine tool manufacturers and 3D printer providers to manufacturers of automation components or production equipment, the packaging industry and food producers to plant operators, vehicle builders and chip manufacturers. After all, the basic theme of industrial digitalization is the same everywhere: moving away from material value creation and toward value creation through services based on connected products.

This should be joined by representatives from research and education whose areas of expertise are as broadly spread as conceivable. Without multidisciplinary basic research, there will be no solutions.

Finally, experts from the IT industry of all kinds should also be represented. Their software and technology are needed, and they need to understand what is most urgent and where. But the circle is completely neutral, open and independent.

This community of interest can address the public, the central associations and unions, the government. It will be heard, because its concerns go to the heart of our society.