The future of work: SMEs – innovative and social

Transformation of corporate cultures through innovative process technologies and work organization depending on SME-specific digitization strategies (TrueCulture)

The project is based on the assumption that the introduction of digital solutions in SMEs can be supported by a change in corporate culture. In order to get to the bottom of this assumption, the project examines changes in the organisation of operational workflows that are triggered by the use of digital solutions.

The aim of the project is to support SMEs in the development of specific digitisation strategies and to identify means for the design of non-technical business areas that facilitate the selection and use of digital solutions. The means should promote both the systematic exchange regarding strategic-tactical planning and the operational implementation of digital solutions.

According to the technological development status and structural production and operational characteristics of three SMEs involved in the project, individual digitisation strategies will be worked out on the basis of concrete optimisation needs. Their respective corporate cultures will be analysed with regard to the challenges and special features of increasing digitisation. For the first identified adaptation needs of the corporate culture, solution patterns have to be conceived and, just like the first digital technologies and applications of priority fields of application, they have to be applied and tested in SMEs.

The digital solutions to be developed in the field of process technology and organisation must be geared to the different digitisation needs of the three SMEs. A distinction must be made between the use of technologies to digitise the interface between management and production, man and machine, and cyber-physical processes.

The project looks at the strategic and operational level. At the strategic level it is examined in which operational structures digital solutions promise suitable improvements. At the operational level, the first digital applications will be tested for priority areas of application. At the same time, the effects of these digital solutions on work will be analysed.

This “map“ of concrete operational changes will be used to derive the changed demands on work organisation and employees. On this basis, measures to consciously shape the corporate culture are finally proposed.


The project aims to derive reference models and procedures for the development of SME-specific digitisation strategies, the active shaping of corporate culture and the testing of digital solutions, which can also be presented to third-party companies.

In addition, the project is developing an internet-based benchmarking tool. With the help of a user-friendly user mask, SMEs can compare their digitisation strategy with other companies.

The developed solutions will be made accessible to a large circle of representatives from science, business, politics and the press by means of internal press and public relations work, a professionally designed project website, information and specialist events as well as social media (e.g. Twitter, YouTube).




Projektträger Karlsruhe (PTKA)


  • iAi Bochum Institut für angewandte Innovationsforschung (IAI) e.V.
  • Institut für Smart Systems und Services (IoS³) der Hochschule Pforzheim
  • KHW Kunststoff- und Holzverarbeitungswerk GmbH
  • phenox GmbH
  • Scherzinger Pumpen GmbH & Co.