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Tag: Corporate Foresight

Scenarios for German industry – invitation to the Future Lab

  • Leader in the manufacturing sector: Mechanical engineering drives the economy with a 5.2% share of gross value added.
  • Pension crisis with nationwide protests: contribution rates rise to 28.5%
  • Mega breakthrough: researchers find concrete replacement thanks to quantum computer
  • Robots preferred as colleagues: a new trend in the German working world
  • Innovation Act takes effect: Federal government reports increase in domestic production

This or something similar could be the headlines of a possible scenario in the year 2045.

In this sector, plant and mechanical engineering has long since overtaken the German automotive industry and tops the list of manufacturing industries in Germany. This is largely due to the rapid developments in robotics and profitable circular economy models, which gained enormous momentum in the 2030s.

Increasing geopolitical uncertainties and growing risks in global supply chains led German industry to adopt more re-shoring and near-shoring strategies at the end of the 2020s. The war in Ukraine and Covid left their mark on the population. Ultimately, this and the high pressure exerted by the industry on political decision-makers led to the German government introducing the first measures to strengthen national independence. A key element of these efforts was the Technology and Innovation Promotion Act, which aimed to create incentives for the twin transition.

The decision to relocate production back from countries with lower costs, combined with the EU’s increasingly protectionist stance, temporarily led to international tensions. In the first few years, production costs in key industries rose, which had a negative impact on exports. This situation, combined with demographic change, increased the pressure on companies to increase their efficiency. In 2030, members of the baby boomer generation were rarely seen in factory halls. But despite the shortage of labor, it became clear that by eliminating personnel inefficiencies and using AI and robotics, it was possible to increase productivity and reduce costs enormously. But it was also clear that the automation of the 21st century had little in common with that of the previous century.

Thinking through scenarios

What would these approaches to a scenario mean for the automotive, metal and electrical industries, for the energy industry or for a completely different sector? What consequences would this have for your personnel planning, training and further education? What steps need to be taken today? We will be working on this and other scenarios in the coming months.

As a project partner of this study, you will receive new impulses and ideas that you can use sustainably for the successful orientation of your company. You can still take part in the scenario process until May 31. Find out more about the project partnership here or in a personal, non-binding discussion.

The future of industrial work in Germany – a peek behind the project curtain

Since January, we at Themis Foresight have been working on our new study “The future of industrial work in Germany”. To date, we have conducted over 30 interviews with innovators, industry representatives, scientists, trade unionists, analysts, political and social actors.

The interesting thing is that the experts on our Expert Panel mostly agree that the current status quo is unsatisfactory, and the vast majority of them are in favor of expanding the EU as an industrial location, including Germany. However, there are very different views on how we can achieve a target state in which German industry will still be among the world leaders in 25 years’ time.

Invitation to dialog and co-creation: Future Lab

These differences are important because the competition between concepts shows that different futures are possible. We cordially invite you to take part in our Future Lab on June 18 at our project partner Südwestmetall, where we will cast these ideas into scenarios.

Progress arises from the friction of different ideas. This friction also means that the participants in our Future Labs challenge each other: Are the assumptions on which our current strategies for innovation, product cycles, target markets or combating the shortage of skilled workers are based correct? What does the automation of the 21st century look like? To what extent or should we even consider forecasts for the EU economic area? And if so, with what basic attitude? Do we accept the forecasts as a target or do we want to skip the very low bar? And if so, by how much? Is there actually a shortage of skilled workers or is there a poor distribution of work and far too many pointless jobs that will have disappeared by 2032? Is the artificial separation of manual and manual labor, of industrial and commercial activities a concept that can produce high-tech in the long term and sustainably?

30 people – many perspectives. In addition to our project partners, we also invite external guests to gain an insight into the topic at our exclusive Future Labs. Join us in Stuttgart on June 18 to discuss what the future of industry and industrial work in Germany could look like. Secure your place among the thought leaders.

We organize a series of workstreams and events during the course of our study. Alongside our project partners Deutsche Bahn, Südwestmetall and PrtX, our scientific advisory board is involved in discussing trickier questions, checking their plausibility and formulating critical uncertainties that are important for our scenario work.

At our last Future Lab in Berlin at the beginning of March, 30 representatives from Group Management Boards, strategy and innovation departments met to develop so-called Future Wheels. This simple method enables the consequences of formulated statements about the future to be presented more clearly. What are the first, second, third, etc. What are the first, second, third, etc. degree consequences if, for example, industrial companies in Germany or Europe only have so-called lead plants where innovation takes place, but mass production takes place at many locations in different markets? Or what would a working world look like in which “the industrial worker” no longer exists and the image of work is no longer determined by collar color or educational background?

Our Future Labs also thrive on first-class impulses. We were therefore delighted to be able to take a look at the future guidelines for a European industrial policy with former BDI Managing Director Joachim Lang and discuss his theses. And to listen to Zeit journalist Vanessa Vu’s assessment of what the major levers for the migration of skilled workers to Germany will be.

Lively discussions and exciting insights into the foresight work and numerous in-depth interviews of recent months also await you in the next Future Lab.

What happens next in the project? Invitation to the project partnership

In addition to the ongoing sessions with our project partners and our scientific advisory board, there are four other major milestones to come:

  • The development of scenarios for the future of industry in Germany in June,
  • The development of a desirable future image of industrial work in Germany in September,
  • The development of derivations and recommendations for the strategic personnel planning of industrial companies and
  • The publication of the study at the end of the year.

You still have the chance to participate as a project partner until the end of May. What opportunities and risks do the various scenarios present for different sectors? On request, we will also be happy to test your strategy or business model in the respective scenarios.


Carina Stöttner and Jan Berger

Founder Themis Foresight

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Scenarios for CFOs: Companies in a new world order – Jan Berger at the Handelsblatt CFO Summit

  • Logo Image element Square Themis Foresight

    Themis Foresight
  • June 2023
  • News

Jan Berger at the Handelsblatt CFO Summit. Picture: Handelsblatt CFO Summit.

Themis Foresight CEO Jan Berger was a speaker at the CFO Summit organized by Handelsblatt, which took place on 11. und June 12, 2024 in Düsseldorf. This influential event attracted a large number of CFOs and CFOs who want to tackle the current challenges facing the economy.

Handelsblatt: “It is obvious that everyone is facing new challenges. You, as a CFO, must meet these with creative solutions and keep a cool head at the same time.” The Handelsblatt CFO Summit 2023 offered participants the opportunity to discuss the impact of current developments on their business with thought leaders and experts. The event focused on topics such as dealing with risks, implementing new strategies, the shortage economy, raw material shortages, business interruptions as well as world trade, globalization and localization.

Jan Berger, CEO of Themis Foresight, used his keynote to share his expertise and present the participants with five scenarios for Europe’s economy in a new world order. With in-depth knowledge of the trends and developments in the global economic landscape, he gave CFOs and CFOs insights into the world of corporate foresight.

Our latest study

Five scenarios for European companies in a new world order

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In his presentation, Jan Berger explained which risks CFOs and CFOs should anticipate in a changing world order and where new opportunities could arise, depending on the scenario.

If you would like an insight into the scenarios, you can download the study free of charge from our website.

Jan Berger’s presentation provided valuable insights for the participants of the Handelsblatt CFO Summit 2023. They opened up new perspectives and encouraged reflection on the strategic orientation of companies. The CFOs and CFOs were encouraged to see change as an opportunity and to find innovative solutions to lead their companies successfully into the future.

Next event: Future Lab on 18. & October 19 in Berlin

Europe’s economy is in a state of upheaval. What do board members and C-level executives need to anticipate today? What false assumptions do we have about developments in China and Africa? Find out from our experts and discuss the results in a small group with 20 other executives.

To the registration

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Interview: European businesses will face many challenges in the coming years

  • Profile picture Abicht

    Jan Berger
  • June 2023
  • Interview

Jan Berger speaking at the CFO Forum of KPMG in Greece.

I am happy to reproduce in English an interview that I gave to Greek last week. The original can be found here. Thank you Dimitris Tsoukalas for the interview!

Interview between and Jan Berger – Themis Foresight

Shortly before his participation in
KPMG’s 21st CFO Forum
in Greece, the founder and CEO of the think tank Themis Foresight spoke to about the future of the European economy and the challenges and opportunities it may bring.

What will be the scope of your keynote at the 21st CFO Forum in Greece? What will you try to get across to the attendees?

I will discuss how the global shifts in economic weight and interests, technological innovation, and financial infrastructure may impact on the European economy. I will also look at changes within the EU itself and sketch out five scenarios for the European economy that my company, Themis Foresight, has developed over the last year. I’m looking forward to the discussion!

What are the main changes that you see taking place regarding the European economy in the following years?

The economies of the EU face several challenges in the coming years. Broadly speaking (and of course there are exceptions), in the last three decades, EU corporations have relied on cheap energy from Russia, cheap commodities from China, cheap security from the U.S., cheap credits from central banks, and the export of high-tech to developing countries in the “global South”. All these premises are gone. It used to be that large manufacturers were in a situation where they could make entire nations dependent on their technologies – not only through the actual products, but through service contracts, consulting, etc. This business model of technology dependence is gone because there are plenty of alternatives on the market. Developing nations are aware of this and leverage these changed conditions in their favor.

Furthermore, the fate of the EU is not decided. Under the impact of the Ukraine war the political center of the EU has shifted from Western Europe further to the East. France and Germany are not aligned. Strong anti-EU tendencies have led to BREXIT, and similar exits may be possible. There’s also a fierce competition of different policy outlooks among European leaders. Some favor more centralization in Brussels, others view the EU as a utilitarian bloc. Irredentism, while currently somewhat of a marginal political force, is still very much alive in a number of Eastern EU countries. Currently, the EU seems incapable of formulating a joint strategy that would satisfy all of its member states.

What are the sources and the reasons for these changes and which sectors are going to be affected the most?

European technology, especially, but not only, in the digital space, are increasingly non-competitive with China and the U.S. And we’re only looking at the beginning of this development. The Australian ASPI institute recently published a report in which they compared scientific publications around critical future technologies and came to the conclusion that China is in the lead in 37 out of 44. Formerly developing nations like China or India are making their economic weight felt in the world. G7 GDP (PPP) was surpassed by that of the BRICS states. This gives them leverage in global politics. The African continent will be a major source of economic growth and technological development in the coming decades. This has different implications on different sectors of the economy. Automotive and its suppliers may be hit very hard lest it proves capable of not only mastering the scale-up of electric mobility, but to also develop new mobility concepts. European manufacturing is still very advanced. Yet, other countries are closing the gap or have already surpassed European manufacturers when it comes to new materials.

We also witness a strong regionalization of economic zones. The picture that we’re headed into a global confrontation between China and the U.S. is one-sided and only one scenario. We may also see the development of up to a dozen trade regions that will negotiate new conditions and new rules of trade. This will impact heavily on the logistics sector with new routes, new types of logistics. For example, Europe remains energy-hungry but has foreclosed energy imports from Russia. Last, but not least, energy-intensive industries like chemicals or steel are at a severe competitive disadvantage due to the high energy prices in Europe.

In February Themis Foresight published the document
“At the Cusp of A New Era”
presenting five scenarios for European business in a new world order. Could you present them to us in brief? Which of the five do you think most likely to happen?

The scenarios are deliberately set for the year 2045. And the purpose of the scenarios was not to determine the likelihood of any one scenario to win out, but rather to enable businesses and politics to jointly discuss the merits of each scenario for their own purpose. Four scenarios are politically driven. A fifth scenario is counterfactual and hypothetical if business had its own way without having to worry too much about political interference. Our scenario “History Ends, Again” discusses the impact for the European economy if the “global West” maintained its leadership in the world, still dominated heavily by the U.S. Our scenario “The Great Exit” looked into the question of what would happen if the EU were to fall apart. In some countries of the EU, we observe strong tendencies of focusing on the internal market only, spiced with concepts of degrowth economics. We called it “Global Village Europe”. And the fourth political scenario “A Flourishing Middle-Power” anticipates a Europe that navigates the global tensions to its own advantage and makes itself less dependent on American security policy. Glimpses of such a scenario could be observed during French president Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to China.

Five Scenarios for European Business

New World Order


Are there challenges that European business will have to face in the future that are included in any given scenario?

Yes, every scenario discusses trade-offs. But the challenges are different and not only limited to business. A significant premise for any continued Western leadership in the world is not only an acceleration of innovation cycles in industries, but the ability to rally the majority of the population behind the idea of Western democracy which has started to erode in reaction to Reaganomics in the U.S., Thatcherism in the U.K., and austerity measures in the wake of the world financial crisis of 2008. Will there be sufficient financial resources and inventiveness and social flexibility to achieve this?

The scenarios that anticipate less European involvement in an American-led security doctrine need to anticipate a significant increase in spending on defense. This money is currently allocated in education, social welfare or economic subsidies like agriculture. Either way, it’s not going to be easy to negotiate new priorities.

What would you advise CFOs and business leaders in Greece? Where must they focus in order to cope with the new world landscape and the shifts in the European economy?

With shipping, transportation, and tourism being three strong pillars of the Greek economy, CFO’s should closely watch the development of international financial mechanisms. The dominance of the U.S. dollar is being challenged everywhere in the world – not only in deals that Sino-Saudi oil trade can be handled in Yuan or the trade between Brazil and China in Yuan. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, ASEAN, BRICS, etc. have encouraged initiatives for trade in local currencies. The Mercosur states discuss the introduction of a joint currency similar to the Euro in Europe. This calls for a diversification of currency portfolios. It may also mean for the banking sector an increase of the cost of capital on top of inflationary tendencies, and thus debt financing through banks may become more difficult. Other financial products may be called for that weigh less on the balance sheets of banks and corporations.

More broadly speaking, we have observed a shift of innovation away from only digital technologies towards technologies that have a positive impact on the environment – be it around climate issues with renewable energies, renewable or climate-neutral materials, circular economies, but also in agriculture with a focus of innovation going in the direction of reversing damages to biodiversity that we have inflicted on nature in the last two centuries. Innovating in this space and being able to scale such new forms of production will be a core component of the economies of the future. As refined petroleum products will gradually be replaced by alternatives such as hydrogen or carbon-neutral ammonia and other fuels, this will have implications not only on end-production but also delivery routes and techniques. Greek business may be well-positioned to innovate in these areas.

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We apply our scenarios to business models and strategies of our clients. Which developments do you need to anticipate? What risks could emerge? And what new chances are there?

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