Innovation: The supposed dynamics of the sports industry are fooling

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Innovation expert and futurologist Prof. Bernd Thomsen is keynote speaker at the ISPO Digitize Summit in Munich. In an advance interview, he explains in provocative theses why in his eyes the sports industry is lagging behind in digital change.

Is the sports industry innovative when it comes to digitalization?
Is the sports industry innovative when it comes to digitalization?

As an innovation expert and futurologist, Prof. Bernd Thomsen and his Thomsen Group have been advising companies worldwide since 1984. At the ISPO Digitize Summit on June 28 and 29 in Munich, he will give a keynote speech with the provocative title "Nobody needs digitalization! Or: How 2050 really will be".

In an advance interview with, Prof. Thomsen reveals why he is not enthusiastic about the digitalization efforts of the sports industry to date, and how a company can inspire its employees for digital change.

Prof. Bernd Thomsen is an innovation expert and CEO of the Thomsen Group.
Prof. Bernd Thomsen is an innovation expert and CEO of the Thomsen Group.
Image credit:
Thomsen Group

"Digitalization is not an end in itself" What are the three most important learnings from digital transformation for you?
Prof. Bernd Thomsen:
1. Transformation needs participation! It only works if employees are taken along.

2. creativity and sociality will remain human for a long time to come! Robots can do much, some things better, but these two decisive points are far from being achieved.

3. Digitalization is not an end in itself! It must deliver added value for people, companies and societies.


Digitalization: Sports industry in its infancy

How innovative is the sporting goods industry compared to other industries?
Let us not be fooled by the supposed dynamics of the industry. Like almost all classic industries, it is still in the infancy of innovation! There is increasing investment in digitalization and start-ups, but no discernible plan. But digitalization and innovation need a business plan! In other words, an overarching strategy: growth, employees and shareholders will then also be running away from the competition.

What are the hallmarks of successful companies in the digital age? Are the structures decisive or digital-thinking employees?
Forget soccer tables, imitations of a Google working atmosphere, high salaries and chic company cars - but also consultants for ever new structures. Instead, find an individual way to value employee performance. And most importantly: Offer tomorrow's consumers exactly what they want today.

Dynamic mindset helps companies

How do employees develop a digital mindset? 
Why should employees do this? Or companies want that? It's not about analog or digital mindsets, there are as few as ghosts. Rather, employees have either a dynamic or rigid mindset.

These ways of thinking and attitudes decide whether they love challenges and are curious to learn something new (dynamic mindset) or rather avoid that (rigid mindset). For example, when employees are encouraged to see mistakes as an opportunity to learn, the first step is taken. Because that is typical for the dynamic mindset. It is also open to digitalization.

The best employee development program is one that also develops the managers. Namely to let the employee's performance be appreciated, because appreciation is the undisputed number one when it comes to satisfied employees. And satisfaction is the basis to create a successful transformation from rigid to dynamic mindsets.

Which product that combines the world of digital and sports inspires you the most?
None (smiles). But this can change if the Thomsen Group devotes itself to "the next big thing in your industry".

What can sporting goods manufacturers and retailers learn from your speech at ISPO Digitize?
One, that there are more boring ways to spend your time.

Secondly, courage to succeed. And: Courage to say no at times. People do not want everything that is technically possible. But what people really want leads to market success.

Third, why no human being needs digitization.

The speaker at the ISPO Digitize Summit

At the ISPO Digitize Summit (June, 28th/29th) digital thinkers, well-known entrepreneurs and greats from the sports industry will speak. In advance, they told about their most important learnings from digitization.