Is a comment I have made to a few US executives recently.
As part of my book project this summer I had the chance to interview several German insurance, auto, logistics and other companies. And in each case I would compare them to their US/UK peers and would come away impressed with the technology they were implementing in their product and customer centric areas. I also spoke to several of their academics about Industrie 4.0, mass customization, security and data privacy trends across Germany’s economy – and saw a level of world-class sophistication.
In the last couple of weeks we have seen glimpses of that in the US
Mercedes has launched its CLA class of sedans with a base price under $ 30,000 (and a very effective commercial where Willem Dafoe as devil tries to tempt a young man with the car till he realizes he can afford it on his own). Imagine the cartwheels Daimler has done to launch a car at that price point.
T-Mobile announced this week it was getting rid of international data roaming fees altogether and offering a simple, cheap plan for international voice service. Innovative – not really – till you realize how the stodgy telecom industry hates to give up on high margin business like that.
Siemens Enterprise Communications, rebranded Unify, showed off Ansible, a SaaS based communications and collaboration platform. Big deal? Yes, when you consider the software and services transition for a PBX and other big iron vendor and when the value prop is “Future of Work”, not speeds and feeds.
Oh, they will stumble.
People are already nitpicking the CLA for a cheesy interior. Unify had an embarrassing web streaming failure during its launch. T-Mobile is a weak 4th US mobile player.
But based on my research this summer, Chancellor Angela Merkel has created quite an innovative dynamo in the past few years. Underestimate at your own peril.