Let's be honest: new technologies and ground-breaking innovations are topics that most of us would expect to find in Silicon Valley rather than in German SMEs. The long list of German SMEs whose products and solutions are in demand all over the world shows that this is not the whole truth. The secret of their success: above-average innovative strength. The Top 100 competition honours precisely such companies. This year, enomyc is also among the winners. How is innovation "organised" there and how do customers benefit when their consultancy is innovative? We talked about this with Julia Hammer, COO and Managing Director, and Franz Wenzel, Director at enomyc.


Julia, a few days ago enomyc was honoured as one of the Top 100, i.e. as one of the one hundred most innovative SMEs in Germany - incidentally as the only restructuring consultancy. Congratulations on that. What exactly did you receive the award for?

Julia Hammer: For the fact that we have been very successful in consistently focussing our structures and processes, and above all our corporate culture, on innovation. This means, for example, that we use various mechanisms to encourage our employees to contribute their ideas and look for better solutions in all areas. We give them the opportunities and freedom to experiment with new technologies and explore new ideas. And we let them feel that they are making an important contribution to the further development of our company and our clients.

What are the structures and processes that promote innovation at enomyc?

Julia Hammer: It's a combination of specialised roles, dedicated structures and a supportive corporate culture. First and foremost are our innovation coordinators. They act as a link between different departments and teams and have the task of collecting and evaluating innovative ideas and managing their potential implementation. We also have an innovation department that focuses on identifying new trends and technologies and initiating innovation projects. This department works closely with external partners and research institutions. By holding regular coordination meetings with the company management, we ensure that enough money and capacity is available for the projects at the end of the day.

In my opinion, however, something else is crucial: the corporate culture. If you don't directly involve your colleagues and employees, even the best structures and processes won't help. That is why we have given a lot of thought to how we can create a culture of openness and an atmosphere in which progress, experimentation and continuous professional development are part of our everyday life.

What results did you come up with? How do you create a corporate culture like this?

Julia Hammer: One way of doing this is for top management to exemplify openness to innovation and to get involved themselves, ask questions, challenge ideas. We expect our managers to create an environment in which creative thinking, a willingness to take risks and the pursuit of technological progress are not only encouraged, but expected. This is why they themselves are directly involved in innovation projects and task groups. “Intrapreneurship” also plays an important role, i.e. the promotion of creativity, a willingness to learn and dynamism among employees. We have had very good experiences with this.

Can you give an example of this?

Franz Wenzel: I'm happy to do that. While I'm a commercial lawyer by training and have been very interested in technology all my life, in my private life, I have been intensively involved with all sorts of new technologies and try them out in a wide variety of situations. Just one example, even before the pandemic, I was already looking into virtual reality (VR) and quickly became passionate about its potential for increasing productivity...

Julia Hammer: We encouraged Franz and later our colleagues to engage with these topics internally, because it was important to us not only to address the topic, but also to create an environment that supports the exploration of new ideas. In this specific case, we invested in several sets of VR units and invited colleagues to visit and work within our virtual offices and meeting rooms.

Franz Wenzel: The whole thing ultimately led to us developing some specific use-cases using VR for our company - and I'm not talking about the typical training courses or experience-orientated use cases, but rather real, focussed, collaborative productivity for completing everyday tasks without the distractions of the outside world: From anywhere. So, from this aspect, VR is missing link between video calls and face-to-face meetings. It is best suited for cases where a face-to-face meeting is warranted, but either impossible or impractical.

Julia Hammer: Franz's experience is a good example of how intrapreneurship can motivate employees to think outside the box and expose themselves to new technologies. His success was a great incentive for others to pursue their own ideas and set up corresponding projects.

Franz Wenzel: Once we have found proven use-cases for ourselves, we go on to share them with our partners and clients, alike, whether in 1:1 support sessions or group workshops.

Julia Hammer: At this point, I would like to take a look at our clients. Just like genAI, Web3 or blockchain, these topics are coming up in the SME sector. Then the question will be: How much of technology X do we need and if so, what for? We will then have the advantage of already knowing our way around because we will have gone ahead with a miner's lamp on our foreheads and explored how and for what purpose a new technology can be used. Just like with virtual reality. Our customers benefit directly from this experience.

Franz Wenzel: The ESG check-up, which companies can use to check whether they fulfil the current sustainability requirements of the legislator, was also developed as part of an innovation project.  Furthermore, we also actively participate in weekly technology meetings on the topics of AI and blockchain; enomyc recently became a member of the Hanseatic Blockchain Institute e.V. So there is already a whole range of innovations that we use in our consulting practice.

Julia Hammer: That was also an important point in the application for the Top100 award: That we were able to show that the focus on innovation and new technologies at enomyc is not an end in itself, but achieves concrete results.

What you have described sounds like a lot of room for manoeuvre for employees - with the aim of promoting innovation. How is that being received?

Julia Hammer: It goes down very well with the top talent that we want. That's exactly what they're looking for: an environment that offers scope for better ideas and smarter solutions. Our innovation management is therefore also an important measure to further increase our attractiveness as an employer. In the end, everyone benefits from this: the employees, we as a company, but also our medium-sized customers, who are often less innovation-driven. They know: When enomyc recommends a new technology, it has a solid basis because we have tested it ourselves and actively use it in everyday life. Our knowledge advantage then becomes a leap of faith.

Dear Julia, dear Franz, thank you very much for the interview.

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