The Swiss ICT market is still slowly on the rise. The total turnover has increased in 2013 and market researchers as well as members of the branch are optimistic that this trend continues.
The Swiss market for information technology and telecommunication (ICT) is gently but steadily growing. According to a press release by BITKOM, the German Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunication and New Media, the total turnover of the Swiss ICT market has increased by 1,4 % in 2013. For 2014 the experts expect a growth of 1,7 % to CHF 30,4 billion. These numbers base on data by the European Information Technology Observatory (EITO).
In comparison to the whole European Union (EU), where the total turnover of the ICT market has increased by 0,8 % in 2013, Switzerland overall is in a better position in all segments of the branch. The Swiss economy seems to be highly "computerized" as the segments "Software" and "IT-Services" are very strong: together they reach a market share of nearly 50 % (IT-Services: 31,6 %; Software: 17 %) and a turnover of CHF 14,5 billion in 2013. The segment "Telecommunications" in comparison stayed basically unchanged and reached sales of CHF 12,2 billion.
Alike the market researchers members of the ICT branch are expecting a further growth of the market. A press release by Swico, the association of Swiss ICT providers, states that the whole branch expects a positive development of the sales pipeline in the second quarter of 2014. The number of incoming orders and the orders on hand apparently are also slightly increasing. But then all segments are also expecting a drop of the price level, especially in the sector of consumer electronics as well as in imaging/printing/finishing.
Tablet computers and smartphones stay on the rise
Following the general trend tablet computers are dominating the Swiss market of IT hardware: in 2013 1,2 million articles have been sold, 300.000 more than in 2012. Unsurprisingly, smartphones are in the lead compared to "regular" mobile phones. With 3,6 million articles sold in 2013 (which is a plus of 11 % compared to the previous year) they now account for a market share of 80,2 %.
Bigger political support is needed, lack of skilled employees
Already, the ICT-market is the fifth largest economic sector in Switzerland. It is surprising though that apparently the political support is still unsatisfactory for this branch. BITKOM notes that a stronger inclusion of ICT experts in topics of the political agenda would be useful if not even necessary. Jean-Mark Hensch, managing director of Swico, is quoted in the BITKOM press release saying that politicians don't identify with the ICT enterprises that much because the big players of the branch are foreign, not Swiss, companies.
Another problem the market has is the lack of skilled employees. According to Swico already today trained specialists are absent; in 2020 experts expect that there will be 25.000 job vacancies for qualified employees. That's why in 2013 several partners of the economy, science and public service have launched the campaign “IT-dreamjobs”. Its goal is to convince young people to start their vocational training in the ICT market, by letting ambassadors working in this sector for Swiss companies talk about their jobs.
How everybody was suddenly talking about a small Swiss IT company
An interesting example of the success of a small Swiss ICT company that doesn't even need many employees is the story of Threema: In times of the NSA scandal (US National Security Agency apparently supervising telecommunication and the internet globally), the demand of people for more privacy in the cyberspace and the buying-up of the enormously successful mobile messaging application "WhatsApp” by the social network giant Facebook this tiny Swiss company and app suddenly came into focus. The application is basically doing the same as WhatsApp: letting people share messages, pictures and videos using the internet (and not having to pay for a short message service anymore) but the difference is the promised security using end-to-end encryption. Especially after Facebook bought WhatsApp people suddenly became aware of the privacy of their data and looked for alternatives. Well-established media, and not only professional IT journals, started testing and suggesting mobile messengers. Often on top of their lists: Threema. So the app became more and more popular and climbed the download rankings in the app stores.
"This is yet another interesting example for newsjacking", knows Bernd Hoeck, managing partner of bloodsugarmagic, the PR agency for the IT market and expert for go-to-market solutions. "While everybody was talking about this whole security topic, suddenly Threema came out of the box with a solution. A bonus for them might also be the general reputation of Switzerland as being independent and secure. Threema even advertises with the slogan 'Made in Switzerland' on their website."
However, the lack of qualified personnel and the use of Information Technology in basically all economic areas in Switzerland make the Swiss market highly attractive for foreign companies if they find the right approach: “Foreign IT service companies need to provide innovative engagement models to enter the market. It is not just simple ideas of offshore development and out-tasking. It also includes joint ventures and other forms of cooperation", explains Hoeck.