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A question of management

A question of management

Digitization is only just beginning. Yet anyone who does not examine and actively manage structures, processes and products for their digital opportunities will fall behind. This is the conclusion that Jürgen and Heribert Meffert have reached in their current book, where they give advice on how companies can avoid any undesirable developments.

What happens when father and son take a look at the digital world together? Jürgen Meffert, senior partner with McKinsey, and his father Heribert Meffert, the German marketing guru, have done this and first make the hypothesis that “digitization is an issue that will occupy us for the next 15 to 20 years. Digital transformation will be the greatest challenge to management. Managers will be challenged, some of them over-challenged. So we need a structure that defines how we think about the digital transformation, a plan as to how we overcome this challenge and, of course, how to manage it correctly.” As anyone who does not examine structures, processes and products to their full extent – and scale – for the digital opportunities they present, and actively manage such changes, will fall behind. But what could such a plan look like? That is what the two main authors explain – supported in the process by numerous McKinsey experts
as co-authors – on 384 pages, starting from

Step by step to the goal

Each management should first ask themselves the following questions so they can analyze the starting situation for their company: Each management should first ask themselves the following questions so they can analyze the starting situation for their company:

  1. In what phase and what degree of maturity is digitization in your industry?
  2. Where is your business model most vulnerable?
  3. How quickly do the changes take place? How big are they?
  4. How do you react to these changes – with many small steps or with a large initiative?
  5. Do you know which digital investments are of the greatest use in your industry?
  6. How much do you need to change to survive?
  7. What are you doing yourself? Where do you need partners or acquisitions?

With the aid of this catalog of questions, the authors examine important factors in a company in the following chapters, including employees, marketing, sales, IT or the supply chain, and their role in the digital transformation.
They shine a light on large industries and their degree of digital maturity and they introduce us to successful pioneers in digitization. Managers of well-known companies that find themselves going through a digital transformation explain how their companies have set themselves up for this. The authors make no secret of the fact that it is a long and arduous path. They do inspire courage, however, and make clear that there is no alternative to digitization for companies.
 But a successful digital transformation demands deep interventions into the structures, processes, management tools and IT of a company. It is necessary in the first step here to adjust the people and processes in the company towards digital. One lesson applies here: it’s always about the customers! Companies need to digitize all the points of contact that customers have with the company. In order for that to work, as the authors put it, all the decision-makers need to radically break out of the functional silos in the company and build cross-disciplinary teams that are supplemented with digital talent. After all, the success of digitization is always a question of management.

Jürgen and Heribert Meffert’s nine propositions on digitization:

  1. Digitization requires new business models that put customer requirements center stage.
  2. Customer requirements are changing rapidly – and companies must respond to this quickly and comprehensively.
  3. Customers must be involved in the product development at an early stage.
  4. Data on customer behavior must be collected at every point of contact.
  5. Top management must support the digitization of the company.
  6. Companies with limited digital maturity must first establish a digital business unit.
  7. People with digital talent must be attracted with demanding tasks.
  8. Digital marketing is based on inspiring stories instead of dull advertising slogans.
  9. Companies need to approach digitization properly and not do anything by halves!

The book:
Jürgen Meffert und Heribert Meffert, Eins oder Null. Wie Sie Ihr Unternehmen mit Digital@Scale in die digitale Zukunft führen, Econ Verlag, Berlin 2017, €28.00

The authors:
The authors of the book are father and son. Heribert Meffert is a professor of business administration, marketing expert and emeritus director of the Institute for Marketing at the Marketing Center Münster of the University of Münster. Heribert Meffert was distinguished with the Marketing Lifetime Award in 2015.

Dr. Jürgen Meffert is a senior partner at the Dusseldorf office of McKinsey & Company. He is both Head of global digital practice in the B2B area and founder of the McKinsey Initiative for Medium-sized High-growth Companies. He is an engineer and economist and particularly advises leading technology and telecommunication companies worldwide, and German medium-sized companies, in digital transformation as well as growth and innovation strategies.

Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: adam121 – Adobe Stock

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