Top 3 business trends an executive in Germany needs to be aware of

Top 3 business trends an executive in Germany needs to be aware of

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The business world has changed drastically over the past decade. Constanze Reichetzer from emba X, the Executive MBA programme presented jointly by ETH Zurich and the University of St.Gallen, explains what trends executives need to master in today’s business environment. 

Technological advancements such as artificial intelligence, the coronavirus pandemic and the related work-from-home switchover, the shift to service-based industries, and the climate crisis are just some examples of external factors that have influenced the way companies operate these past few years. Here are some trends you should be aware of as an executive in Germany: 

1. Digital technologies and artificial intelligence

Technological developments and the advancement of artificial intelligence have impacted the business world tremendously. In 2018, the German Federal Government launched its National AI strategy with the goal of making Germany (and Europe) a leading AI location. 

Nevertheless, currently, only 15 percent of companies use artificial intelligence, Bitcom, a German association of companies in the digital economy, has found. At the same time, there are more than 1.700 artificial intelligence start-ups in Germany, up from 200 in 2019. 

While strong business leaders need to stay ahead of these developments to lead their companies into the future, the German government is also putting pressure on the industry regarding the social impact of artificial intelligence. According to their AI strategy, artificial intelligence should be oriented towards the common good. 

So, it isn’t simply enough for managers to understand the current trends and be able to implement them in their own companies, they also need to be able to assess and consider their impact, both in the smaller context of their own firm as well as the broader context of society. 

2. Social impact and environmental footprint  

The impact of one’s firm goes beyond the context of digital technologies and artificial intelligence. This has always been the case, but as the world becomes more globalised and the climate crisis becomes an increasingly salient issue, the pressure on firms to be more transparent about their environmental policies has risen. 

For instance, Germany has a rigorous CSR Regulatory Framework that requires companies of a certain size, operating in certain industries, such as credit institutions, to report on their environmental and social practices. Furthermore, consumer expectations have adapted to sustainability challenges. In 2021, according to Statista, 57 percent of respondents to a survey conducted in Germany stated that it was important to them to buy products from companies that act in a socially and ecologically responsible manner.

It's no longer enough for managers to understand the impact of decisions on business growth and their company overall. Today, executives must consider the overall environmental and social impact of any action taken. What does a certain decision mean for my consumers? What about society overall? Is there a way to make a choice more sustainable? 

These are challenges that not only top-level management but employees on all levels of a company face nowadays. It is therefore a strong leader’s job to be a role model and coach their teams on their social impact and environmental footprint.

3. High-quality management and leadership skills

Skilled and organised managers act as role models for their company's values and bring out the best in their team. Unfortunately, they’re still a rare occurrence. The 2023 Gallup Workplace Report revealed that Germans are more stressed than the European average, with 42 percent of employees reporting daily stress in their jobs. The study found a clear correlation between quality management and low-stress levels among employees. In short, it’s now more important than ever to be a well-organised manager in order to lead your team in a way that will inspire them.

The times of top-down decisions and autocratic leadership are over. Employees want transparency, fairness and appreciation from their managers. This requires great leaders to be authentic, inspiring and enthusiastic decision-makers with a clear vision for their teams and companies. Regular exchange with their peers, self-leadership and continuous learning are some measures that help them to keep up with the dynamic business world of today. 

If you are an executive who wants to get ahead of these trends while expanding your peer network, why not get in touch to evaluate your fit for the innovative emba X programme? Join emba X at one of their events, book a personal consultation or send them an email. 

Constanze Reichetzer


Constanze Reichetzer

Constanze Reichetzer is Marketing Strategy Manager for emba X, the Executive MBA developed by ETH Zurich and the University of St.Gallen. She’s previously gained leadership experience at a German IT...

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