Ahead of the Wave? Or Did the Moment Pass You By?

Author: Benjamin Buchholz | Mittwoch, 27. März 2024
Category: Digital Transformation

How AI Can Be a "Return-on-Innovation".


When the Federal Association of Digital Economy (BVDW) summons its members to a convention, it presents a perfect opportunity for a digital agency to position itself in a tumultuous time of transformation. Where does PIA UDG stand? Have we set the right themes and priorities? Are we on the right track with our initiatives? Or did we miss the wave?

And, of course, we also ask this for our clients who demand an assessment from us. The focus is always on the question: Are we "ready" to move into the future? This question was explored at the BVDW Convention by more than 100 representatives from the departments of Digital Responsibility, Data Economy, and Artificial Intelligence, as well as the Immersive Experiences focus group and the Digital Agencies professional circle, over the course of a day.

I listened attentively to what our colleagues from the digital industry had to say. It's no surprise that Artificial Intelligence permeates all areas of the digital economy and dominated the day.

I take away three theses and learnings:

Thesis 1: Shocking Future?

To remain competitive, companies must now ask themselves what they can or must do with AI in the future. This development catches many companies at a time when they are already facing enormous challenges. Some companies might experience a "Future Shock" as defined by futurist Alvin Toffler. Individuals and entire societies confronted with too many changes in too short a time can enter a psychological state.

However, a defensive stance is not a solution. Especially if one has an innovation-skeptical mindset, it can quickly lead to a standstill. Those who miss the wave risk being overtaken by their competition.

For PIA UDG, it is crucial to offer solutions to transform this shock into positive energy and ride the wave.

Thesis 2: Make Room!

It is in PIA UDG's DNA, having lived and sold digitalization at its core for 20 years, to quickly adapt to change and derive new spaces from it. The potential to create new business opportunities with AI is enormous and significantly upgrades the service portfolio of an agency. The goal should not be to produce "cool, hot stuff," as one panel participant called it. Rather, the aim should be to generate targeted changes that also have a sustainable value-adding effect.

In digital transformation, agencies can play a decisive role in turning ROI into a "Return on Innovation". These are our approaches:

  1. By providing consulting and classification to create an environment to deal with uncertainty and overcome the "Future Shock" (AI-Readiness Audit).

  2. Being a guide to navigate the dense jungle of technology (Tech-Stack Consulting).

  3. Developing coherent strategies to manage significant investments and not just derive individual measures (Digital Strategy Consulting).

  4. Implementation and operational competence to translate the measures derived from consulting into practice (our core business).

Thesis 3: Just do it!

Just Do It! The challenge for agencies and clients is to build sustainable knowledge and skills. Measures should follow a clear strategy to align different speeds of implementation and bring them back together at a certain point. What we from PIA UDG suggest:

Pragmatic and quick ad-hoc measures

  • Creating a positive mindset and attitude towards AI among employees (min. 1/3)

  • Establishing technical and ethical frameworks

  • Identifying innovators and providing them with resources

  • Finding projects and approaches where AI can be used

  • Creating "test-and-learn" cases

  • Sharing results within the group to bring others on board

  • Keeping an ear to the market and channeling this knowledge

  • Utilizing our AI-Readiness Audit

Long-term and strategically designed measures:

  • Creating new tools and product offerings

  • Consistently using AI to replace repetitive tasks

  • Collecting data and making it permeable

  • Re-evaluating existing work processes and refining them: turning "Build, measure, learn" into "Generate, curate, validate".


For me, even in the emerging era of AI, an important maxim remains:

The purpose - or rather the goal - justifies the means.We must focus on the goal. With the use of AI, we can deploy powerful tools to achieve this goal faster, more efficiently, or at all. However, a solid foundation must be created for this.

This is exactly where we at PIA UDG start, offering a very good stocktaking with our AI-Readiness Audit. We examine performance in the areas of data, processes, technology stack, and content. In conclusion, we provide concrete recommendations for action that immediately generate business value.

Check your company's AI readiness with our free audit and set the course for a position on or ahead of the wave!

The Federal Association of Digital Economy (BVDW – Bundesverband der digitalen Wirtschaft) e.V. is the representative body for companies that operate digital business models or whose value creation is based on the use of digital technologies.
With its members from the entire digital economy, the BVDW is shaping the future today – through creative solutions and cutting-edge technologies. As a source of impulse, guide, and accelerator of digital business models, the association advocates for fair and clear rules and supports conditions favourable to innovation. While doing so, the BVDW always keeps an eye on the economy, society, and the environment. In addition to DMEXCO, the leading trade fair for digital marketing and technology, and the German Digital Award, the BVDW also organizes the CDR Award, the first awards ceremony in the DACH region for digital sustainability and responsibility, as well as a variety of specialist events.