Technology is disruptive. On the one hand, new ideas shake up society; there are always winners, losers, and vested interests resisting progress. On the other hand, change isn’t automatically a good thing; newer doesn’t always mean ‘better’. If an innovative new business is successful only because it exploits its workers, then is that really the kind of innovation Europe wants?

If Europe is to retain its much-cherished social model, it must balance the need for innovation against the requirement to provide workers with rights and protections. Most would agree that the continent needs innovative, disruptive businesses like Google or Amazon in America, or Alibaba in China. How can it foster the emergence of new, disruptive businesses while encouraging them to be socially responsible?

Curious to know more about European businesses and the assorted pressures (and opportunities) of the digital age? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? We had a comment from Marina, who argues that businesses in the digital age are “constantly under the pressure of change, innovation, growth, emerging technologies and new business models.” So, how can businesses respond to these pressures and what makes a business successful in the digital age?

To get a response we put Marina’s comment to Thiébaut Weber, Secrétaire Confédéral of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and one of the judges in the Financial Times’ recent list of “Europe’s 100 digital champions” (where he argued against the inclusion of the delivery-service Deliveroo in the list because he believes it shirks social responsibilities by claiming its drivers are self-employed).

For another perspective, we also put Marina’s comment to Matt Brittin, President of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Business & Operations at Google. What did he think?

What makes a business successful in the digital age? How can businesses successfully respond to the challenges (and opportunities) of new technologies? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Photo by RawPixel on Unsplash
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12 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    Can a business thrive in the digital age and still uphold the EU social model? Yes, I think it can. The things that make a business (whether SME or huge mega corporation) thrive in the 21st century are using new technologies in new and exciting ways. It’s not about cutting benefits, worker protection, etc., and exploiting workers to cut prices and increase profit margins.

  2. avatar

    customers want service immediately, reliably, and are used to having packaged in a slick and professional way… so first you need a good idea, then you need to implement it and present it in a way that it’s intuitive and convenient… simples.

    • avatar

      If it’s so simple, why aren’t you rich then?

  3. avatar

    It’s counter-productive to have a stressed, poorly-paid workforce. They will make mistakes, burn out, the staff turn-over will be disruptive, you’ll generate ill-will with workers (and negative PR). If your company is innovating that way, then you’ll fail.

    Of course people involved in start-ups need to put lots of work in (often poorly paid / long hours / labour of love, etc.), but that should only be at the very beginning. It cannoot be the basis of your business model

  4. avatar
    Helena T.

    Honestly, I think Europe has been missing out majorly when it comes to big tech companies. There’s a huge gap with other places, such as China and the USA. The so-called “European social model” is also a straitjacket; it keeps people from taking risks, and it makes it harder to be flexible when it comes to hiring and firing / upscaling / downscaling. Why would you be an entrepreneur when you can get much more stability and protection as a salaried employee? And it’s too hard to start a business, get access to capital, etc., across much of Europe. And one of the most innovative countries (the UK) we’re about to say goodbye to.

    • avatar

      Can’t say I agree, I’m afraid. I wouldn’t want European society to transform into American society overnight, with all the inequalities and social problems they are facing. We do have inequality in Europe, but certainly not to the same extent. And we’ve had almost a decade of “austerity” and “cuts” and “structural reforms”, so I honestly think the public are sick of this kind of talk.

  5. avatar

    Customer service. Customer = #1

  6. avatar

    Being innovative and seeing new tech as an opportunity.

  7. avatar

    Theres no 1 magic bullet. If you’re a small business or startup, then it takes hard work but also luck.. If you’re a big business, then look for innovative startups and buy them ;-)

    • avatar

      You say there’s no one magic bullet, then proceed to offer a magic bullet (“look for innovative startups and buy them”). XD

      I do agree, actually, that there isn’t a single solution.

  8. avatar

    In an IT era, technology can raise the efficiency, less employee can be employed and profit can increase. Unfortunately, employers prefer to keep these profit rather than sharing with employees. It is said that Huawei has shared its with all its employees. This makes Huawei such a successful business. I have not verify this. But this idea is really good. If employees can have a fair share of the enterprise’s profit, business should be more successful.

  9. avatar

    Think less to monopolize the market and price with the monopoly of the technology. For example, Apple was able to monopolize the price and market. It is now having the danger of being overtaken by cheaper products in China. Cheap does not necessarily need to sacrifice quality. It is culture of Chinese to accumulate profit by selling more products. It is the mentality of small business and once it has accumulated sufficient wealth, it can grow bigger like Huawei and Ali. This has been exactly what the whole nation of China doing.

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