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Too few businesses focus on new technology

New research shows that Danish companies fail to utilise new technologies and digital solutions and therefore fall behind in the international competition.

When it comes to retaining and creating jobs in Denmark, new technologies such as 3D printing, big data and robots are often a neglected competitive parameter in Danish industry.

A new study shows that 37 percent of Danish companies do not have a strategy for investing in and testing new technology. 270 companies have participated in the survey which charts the companies’ approaches to Industry 4.0, including technologies such as smart manufacturing technology, data processing and 3D scanning.

- Our results show that many companies are reluctant when it comes to new technology. They understand the need for new technologies and digital opportunities, but they don’t translate this into practice, says Jan Stentoft, professor at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management at The University of Southern Denmark.

He has conducted the study in collaboration with Christopher Rajkumar, research assistant at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management, and Erik Skov Madsen, associate professor at the Department of Technology and Innovation - ITI.

New technology creates added value
The consequence of not having a strategy for investment in new technological equipment can be that Danish companies have a cost-intensive production and therefore fall behind in the international competition. And this can lead to a loss of jobs in Denmark.

But it is also a problem because companies that do not introduce new technology may miss out on a number of development opportunities.

- Industry 4.0 holds a lot of development potential for the companies. Digital solutions such as text messaging services can provide greater value for the customers, or a business can gain competitive advantage by printing spare parts in plastic or iron for its own production. So, it’s not only about reducing costs, but also about the added value technologies can create, says the professor.

Thinking technology as single parts
According to the study, a significant barrier to the companies not thinking in terms of new technology is that they are more focused on the day-to-day operations at the expense of development.

- Many companies are focused on utilising and optimising their current production processes instead of exploring new production processes and development opportunities. This is understandable, and our recommendation is therefore that the public sector creates programmes to help companies think strategically in terms of new technology and its implementation, Jan Stentoft says.

Private consultancy companies could analyse and make recommendations on how a company can benefit from new technology.

- For some companies Industry 4.0 may seem unmanageable. A good place to start is to think of the technologies as separate parts and consider if solutions such as 3D printing or mobile internet would make sense to introduce in a company, Jan Stentoft says.

The entire report "Industry 4.0 in Danish Industry" can be downloaded in pdf.

Meet the researcher

Jan Stentoft is a professor at the Department of Entrepreneurship and Relationship Management, where he conducts research into supply chain management and supply chain innovation.