The Digital Mittelstands-Award (DIMA) showcases exemplary digital projects from mid-sized enterprises in the DACH region. The jury consists of six members who have already proven their excellent digital competence – and Oliver Leisse is one of them. He founded an institute for trend research in 2008 and focuses on topics such as digitalisation, innovation and the Internet of Things.
In this interview, the DIMA keynote speaker reveals how and where he tracks down trends, how mid-sized enterprises can concretely profit from this and how he assesses the future.
Mr Leisse, you founded SEE MORE in 2008, an institute for future and trend research. How do you and your colleagues track down trends? A look into the crystal ball is probably not part of the process …
Yes, we take fortune cookies, they’re easier to understand. No, of course, we follow a simple method behind the research: we recognise today what is coming tomorrow – by taking a close look, listening and coming to very solid conclusions. We talk with people about their desires and expectations. Accompany them in their daily life. Ask experts. We have employees in 50 cities worldwide who do all this.
In which areas or industries do you take a look into the future? Do you focus concretely on the working world or also on societal changes in general?
Thank goodness we’re able to lift the lids off of many pots and take a look inside. Our customers tell us in which areas they need our analysis, which centres on very different segments – from health to retail to finance. Construction machines today, cheese tomorrow. And the overarching meta topics are extremely broad: How will we work (hybrid), consume (less status and more experience), live (in smaller flats?)? What can automation and AI do for us (give us time?), how will cities look when we have autonomous cars (completely different?), are cryptocurrencies and the blockchain a story that is larger than the Internet? (Yes!)
Oliver Leisse, founder and managing director of SEEMORE
f I were a mid-sized enterprise and would like to profit from your forecasts – how can I leverage future research concretely in my company?
Oh, this may sound a bit airy-fairy, but our work can be implemented concretely in real life. We can help a mid-sized enterprise in the very important search for a positioning that makes sense, propose which new products or services are now in demand and much more. But we often don’t even have to help in this respect. Mid-sized enterprises are fit and curious. The company should definitely do the research itself in the international markets, what is happening there and what is coming to their own market in future.
Let’s talk about a concrete example: the future of trade fairs, a topic that many companies in the B2B segment are concerned about. Which future does this format have as a marketing and sales event?
The standard answer nowadays: trade fairs will be hybrid, offer many more experiences, automate everything that is inefficient and re-interpret the highly coveted emotional, the coming together. Hybrid means: an essential dive into virtual reality, but also a new dimension of meeting up.
A look back: were there trends that you precisely forecasted but to which hardly anyone reacted to in a suitable way? And vice versa: have you ever been completely off the mark with a forecast?
No. My clients have always enjoyed being able to use the new perspectives. And I also have to say no to the second question. I’ve never been fully off the mark – but this could also be due to the fact that we focus on a period of three to a maximum of five years in the future for the forecast. This makes the forecast easier, because when you take a close look, there are already many hints, so-called weak signals, that can be interpreted.
And now a look ahead: does the future cause you to worry or do you see reason to be confident?
I`m very confident. Our knowledge is exploding, convergence is bringing many scientists together – like bio and tech. These combinations are leading to revolutions non-stop. We are living in a time of unlimited possibilities. But we not only have to accept the possibilities, we also have to critically review them and then be courageous enough to leverage them.
You are a jury member of the Digital Mittelstands-Award 2021 due to your strategic excellence and your extensive knowledge of digital advancement. What do you expect from this competition?
New, exciting paths in the future! Ingenious ideas and breakthroughs. And I’m very certain that mid-sized enterprises will amaze me this time too.