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Switzerland’s Top500 2018

Thrust into
the digital

Beyond Efficiency – Winning with Talent,
Technology, and the Ecosystem


An outward-focused strategic orientation, “asset-light” investments, forward-looking skills, and an ecosystem thinking. These are the key factors to realize the full potential of digital transformation, according to the latest annual Switzerland Top 500 study, conducted by Accenture Switzerland and supported by ETH Zurich’s KOF Swiss Economic Institute. The research also shows that despite widespread recognition of the digital imperative, only a few Swiss companies are undertaking the fundamental organizational transformation that is required to build a digital business.

We hope this report will serve as a wake-up call for the companies that are not yet top performers–and for the Swiss economy as a whole – to commit to the hard work of transformation and capability building that is needed to compete in the New.


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What sets top performers apart?

1. An Outward-Focused Strategic Orientation

Top performers differentiate from peers by using digital investments to pursue outward-focused strategic goals and capitalize on new growth opportunities. This can include: building new business models, increasing market flexibility, launching new products and services quickly, increasing market and customer knowledge, attracting the best young talent, and creating a more engaged workforce.

Drivers of digitization

Which goals do you pursue with your digital investments?
(% of respondents indicating ‘yes’; response ‘yes/no’)

Top performers in Switzerland are using digital investments to increase market flexibility, launch new products and services quickly, increase market and customer knowledge, attract best young talent and create a more engaged workforce.
2. Software-Based Technology and Data

When it comes to technology investments, there is a clear differentiation between top performers and peers. The top performers are making significantly more “asset light” investments in software technologies, such as analytics, CRM, supply chain management, and social media. These intelligent applications change how companies operate and grow. The investment gap between performance leaders and other companies is narrower when it comes to complex machine-based IT hardware, such as 3D printing, internet of things, robots, and autonomous vehicles.

Percentage difference of adoption of digital technologies between top performers and others

Which digital technologies are used in your organization?
(% of respondents indicating ‘yes’; response ‘yes/no’)

The top performers in Switzerland are making significantly bigger investments in “asset light” software technologies, such as analytics, CRM, supply chain management, and social media.
3. Forward-Looking Skills

In addition to hard skills—the baseline capabilities for everyone competing in the digital age—soft skills and innovation skills emerge as key differentiating factors between top performers and peers. This is especially apparent in the importance that leaders place on soft skills such as social and communication skills, autonomous decision making, and leadership competency. This suggests the basis of competitive advantage is shifting from advanced technical skills to more “human” skills that involve teamwork, communication, creativity, and ingenuity.

Importance of skills for digitization

Which employee skills are important for your organization with regard to digitization?
(% of respondents indicating ‘important/very important’; response scale 1-5)

The greatest difference between top performers and peers in Switzerland is in the importance that leaders place on soft skills such as social and communication skills, autonomous decision making, and leadership.
4. Ecosystem Thinking

An important element of success in the digital age is the ability to tap into resources in an ecosystem of customers, competitors, universities, and suppliers, to name but a few. The ecosystem provides access to new ideas, skills, talent, technologies, customers and markets. According to the study, top performers are better at tapping into ecosystems for knowledge.

Importance of external innovation sources

Which external sources of knowledge are important for your innovation activities?
(% of respondents indicating 1-4 from ‘not important’ to ‘very important’)

Top performers pursue more co-innovation with partners, such as competitors, universities, customers, and suppliers, compared with their peers.


Three actions to win in the new

Invest wisely to rotate to digital technologies

Invest wisely to rotate to digital technologies

Today, the focus of digital investment should be on growth opportunities. Set goals and strategies for digitization that go beyond efficiency. Make asset-light investments in software technologies that enable innovation and new business models. Make data and analytics a top company priority.

Invest in a ‘new-skilled’ workforce

Invest in a ‘new-skilled’ workforce

Winning companies use digital to innovate and respond quickly to customer needs and market shifts. This requires a workforce that is technically competent, but also well-schooled in the soft skills that enable creativity and effective teamwork.

Be an extrovert in your ecosystem

Be an extrovert in your ecosystem

The digital enterprise has a large footprint in an ecosystem of competitors, suppliers, partners, customers, etc. Top performers are bold players in their ecosystems, collaborating on innovation, tapping into talent and expertise, and contributing to industry groups.


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“Switzerland is very well prepared for the digital transformation. But are we marketing our location advantage offensively enough? Are we missing opportunities due to our modesty?”

— Thomas D. Meyer

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Thomas D. Meyer

Thomas D. Meyer

Country Managing Director Accenture Switzerland,
Geographic Lead Accenture Digital Austria, Switzerland and Germany


Dr. Konstantinos Trantopoulos

Dr. Konstantinos Trantopoulos

Associate Manager,
Accenture Growth & Strategy