Mastering generation change through digitization - our visit to the Mittelstand day in Mainz


The (sales) management of UHP Software took part in the Mittelstandstag Rheinland-Pfalz in Mainz on 15.03.2018. There we were able to get an idea of the current needs of small and medium-sized companies in the region. Thus, we were able to take important suggestions for the implementation of useful digital products and services for medium-sized companies, for example from manufacturing, construction or trade. Armed with this knowledge, we would like to serve our customers even better and always advise them according to their needs.

The event, which took place in the ZDF conference center and was hosted by the Zeitverlag, attracted hundreds of visitors, mainly regional managers. It was noticeable that the high proportion of family businesses and the upcoming generation change was reflected in many companies in the visitor spectrum. No wonder, since around 95% of companies in Germany are family-owned (Source: BDI - Factsheet Mittelstand Familienunternehmen).

The event was opened by the Minister of Economic Affairs of the state, Dr.Volker Wissing, who discussed the effects of digitization, demographic change and new business models on medium-sized companies and invited the visitors to the presentations and a lively exchange with experts. An expert, Prof. Dr. Ruskowski from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence gave a very clear account of the importance of Industry 4.0 for SMEs. According to him, we are already "in the thick of things" of the transition towards a connected production
which is very important for the medium-sized companies. It was particularly exciting when the expert met practicians in a panel discussion: Mr. Ruskowski discussed real-life experiences of "digitization, networked production and big data" with Mr. Markus Graffe, Managing Director of Maschinen und Stahlbau Technik Markus Graffe GmbH and Mr. Kai Müllers, Operations Manager of Brohl Wellpappe GmbH & Co. KG. Mr. Graffe reports that he was only able to make the generation change in his company possible through digitization. Previously, he had always been the central point of contact for the employees, even though he also had to jump back and forth between day-to-day business and customers. "I was at the limit of my workload" - but thanks to the introduction of an intranet, this changed for Mr. Graffe - the queries from employees were reduced and the senior manager was greatly relieved. This was the opportunity for the junior manager to formalize his father's knowledge to successfully lead the company in the future. The younger generation knows it no different than using information technology: Mr. Müller, manager of the 600-strong company, relies heavily on new technologies. He reports that the biggest challenge is to take away the fear of employees. They should understand that it is about simplifying work and they should not be rationalized, but relieved from unnessary work-steps. If the employees are successfully introduced to and accompanied by new technologies, then they accept them positively and everyone benefits in the company.
In addition to the lectures and the plenary, UHP Software had the opportunity to talk directly to the visitors over coffee and to discuss the relevant topics in the middle class.

We understand from the event that there are currently two ways of thinking about middle-class entrepreneurship: the family business leadership culture and the digital business models driven by new technologies. Both can learn a lot from each other and benefit from it: family business is currently shaped by a very special way of doing business - long-term, stable and independent. Digital companies such as UHP Software GmbH are characterized by their adaptability, dynamism and innovative power with a focus on customer / employee benefits. We would like to help medium-sized companies to find suitable digital products and solutions for themselves and to introduce them successfully in their company.

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