"Small to medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the German economy. That's why the digital transformation of small and medium-sized companies is essential for the future viability of Germany as a business location," explained Klaus Helmrich, managing board member of Siemens AG, at the ‘Forum Deutscher Mittelstand’ (German SME Forum) recently held in Stuttgart.

"This requires increased collaboration between companies of different sizes – from start-ups to medium-sized companies to large corporations," he said.

During the conference, representatives of numerous well-known German companies from the machine and plant manufacturing industry, discussed strategies to ensure the future viability of small and medium-sized businesses.

According to Mr Helmrich, "the successful digital transformation of small to medium-sized businesses requires strategic decisions by top management on two levels. They need to align their portfolio with Industry 4.0 and further develop their internal processes. This also includes training and further education and employees."

One already available platform for digital solutions is MindSphere – the open, cloud-based IoT operating system from Siemens – which helps companies to gain a competitive edge by using data analysis.