Dexperty study “Digital Business Transformation” shows varying perspectives among German companies

Only some German companies have a true understanding of digital transformation and a strategy in place for it

Despite growing budgets for digital publishing, marketing still has a significant amount of catching-up to do when it comes to strategies for digital transformation

In Germany there are companies that have developed a clear understanding and strategic approach to digital transformation, and which are successfully working on customer-centric change processes. But the majority of companies are latecomers, who are just at the beginning of this development. Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular have a lot of catching up to do. This is shown by the recent “Digital Business Transformation” study conducted by Dexperty, Messe Frankfurt’s digital experts.

When it comes to marketing, digital transformation is steadily progressing and accounting for a growing proportion of overall budgets – often in the double-digit percentage range.
But a digitalization strategy is only clearly visible in 30 percent of the companies. The respondents see websites, dialogue marketing, trade fairs, print media and public relations as the most important factors in the marketing mix, and social media and mobile marketing are quickly catching up. In almost half of the companies surveyed, mobile applications and/or search engine optimization are already the standard.

Management is highly committed, but there are too few resources

­­The respondents indicated new business opportunities, technological developments and changes in customer requirements as the primary drivers of digitalization in their own companies. Digital transformation is not always easy. Many companies struggle with obsolete IT and the existing culture of the organisation as well as lack of resources and expertise. Only every third study participant indicated that their company has a digital strategy and, in large companies, the results showed a few more. Despite all obstacles, about 80 percent of the marketing and IT decision-makers are satisfied with the level of digital transformation in their company and their departments. Perhaps this is the result of the high level of commitment of company management. After all, two-thirds of respondents feel well supported by their bosses.

Despite many similarities, marketing and IT managers see individual aspects of digital transformation very differently. Marketing decision-makers focus more on business issues, while IT managers emphasize technological factors. In general, IT managers consider the overall process to be of higher importance and see the progress of the digitalization of marketing in a more positive light than their marketing colleagues. It is also interesting to see that almost half of the IT decision makers surveyed are informed about a digital strategy in their companies, but only every fourth person is informed in this regard in the marketing departments.

In general, the industrial sector is clearly taking steps toward digital business in a more planned, extensive and strategic manner. The reasons are likely to include company size, the specific often brand-oriented business and marketing structures, as well as the proximity to the production processes. Smaller and even medium-sized companies deem digitalization to be less important to their success than the large companies do. Only 43 percent of small businesses see the issue as particularly important, whereas 56 percent of medium-sized and 67 percent of larger companies do so.

Trade fairs remain a marketing focus

Despite significant increases in budget allocation to digital marketing tools, no paradigm shift can be seen when it comes to participating in trade fairs. The relevance of trade fairs is still high. 67 percent of the respondents indicated that their company is taking part in fairs. More than 70 percent of the marketing decision-makers use dialogue marketing and PR for this and most of them consider these to be the most important tools. Onsite advertising on the trade fair grounds, social media activities and a year-round presence on the trade fair organizers’ online platforms are considered important for the success of the fair by just over 50 percent of the respondents. Conventional print advertising has also remained at the same level.

“Trade fairs have maintained their leading role in the marketing mix of many companies especially in the industrial sector”, says Klaus Reinke, Chief of Corporate Strategy & Organisation and
member of the Management Board at Messe Frankfurt. “But trade fair marketing is also increasingly multifaceted. The share of digital activities already accounts for over 10 percent of the trade fair budget for a clear majority of respondents.”

As to the purpose of the study, Klaus Reinke explains, “with these research results, Dexperty is now providing marketing managers with a benchmark and suggested courses of action when it comes to the further digitalization of marketing and communication. Dexperty is Messe Frankfurt’s brand for the development and bundling of a growing number of digital products and services for exhibitors and visitors. Our team of experts has been dealing with digital transformation in marketing for many years now and develops new digital customer services on an ongoing basis.

Tomorrow’s trends

The most important, business-relevant trend for those surveyed is security, ahead of even cloud computing, mobile, and big data. The issue of data security plays a central role for all companies. As can be expected, topics such as cloud computing or “Industry 4.0” are still far away for smaller companies. On the other hand, they tend to see social computing – the use of blogs, wikis and social networks – as being more relevant. And with the internet of things coming in fifth, the next hype topic is already in the works.

About the study

Dexperty and the market research firm INNOFACT AG surveyed more than 600 decision-makers within a representative panel in June 2015 for the study. 50 per cent of those surveyed were responsible for marketing and 50 per cent for IT in their companies.

The survey was intended to investigate the understanding, practical relevance, state of development and possible hurdles in the implementation of digital business transformation in German companies. In addition to this, the survey sought to shed light on the impact of digital transformation on marketing and, more specifically, the development of digital trade fair marketing.

The 36-page management report on the study “Digital Business Transformation” can be downloaded here.

Titelseite-Management-Report-Digital-Business-TransformationBackground information on Dexperty – digital expertise by Messe Frankfurt

Dexperty is the new Messe Frankfurt brand for the development and bundling of a growing number of digital products and services for exhibitors and visitors. Dexperty provides optimized offerings for successful “business matching” in the communities surrounding Messe Frankfurt events. In addition to numerous social media platforms, these include,, special interest offerings, mobile apps and optimized advertising options on Messe Frankfurt’s online platforms. For further information, visit

Messe Frankfurt background information

With an annual turnover of approximately 554 million euros and 2,130, Messe Frankfurt is one of the leading trade fair companies in the world. The company group has a global network consisting of 29 subsidiaries and 57 international sales partners. Messe Frankfurt is therefore present for its customers in over 160 countries. “Made by Messe Frankfurt” events are organized in more than 30 locations around the world. In 2014 Messe Frankfurt organized 121 trade fairs, more than half of which were outside of Germany. The 592,127-square-meter trade fair grounds include ten exhibition halls. The company also operates two convention centers. The historical festival hall is one of the most popular venues in Germany for all types of events. Messe Frankfurt is a public sector business, of which the city of Frankfurt owns 60 percent and the federal state of Hesse owns 40 percent.