Legacy beats agility

Digitization Legacy beats agility

Published on 08.09.2020, Manuel P. Nappo

Agility seems to be the mot du jour when it comes to solving issues in today’s economy. Meanwhile, legacy – the down-to-earth, far-sighted approach – produces yawns at best. But does this formula also apply to public entities such as states? Even Switzerland, which was founded back in 1291?

Nowadays, everything would come to a standstill without technology. The tech giants are trying to outdo one another when it comes to competitiveness and development speed. Everything revolves around the predominance of digital systems. Welcome to the clash of the superpowers!

In the left corner: the USA, which always strives to maintain its top economic position and dominance – so far, with success. Hardly anyone or anything has been able to cast the agile American tech giants from their throne. And, regardless of the outcome, the forthcoming presidential election in November of this year is unlikely to change this situation. The largely unregulated powers in Silicon Valley are still too influential and successful. It’s all about pure wealth and unbridled influence.

In the right corner: China – high-end innovations paired with authoritarian politics. The Asian powerhouse is pulling out all the stops in its rise to the top. Citizens and their right to privacy are not taken into consideration. Now, Chinese companies are also casting out their digital nets into “friendly” foreign nations. They’re enticing power structures within these countries to screen their citizens using Chinese recognition software and all its usage algorithms.

Switzerland: by no means the fastest, but sustainable

And where does Switzerland stand in all this? Does it have enough strength to hold its own in the tough power play of the political and tech giants? Could the centuries-old Swiss political culture, which is based on consensus and federalism, start to flounder? Is there reason to fear that Swiss prudence and the international expansion of agility are mutually exclusive?

Alongside Switzerland’s competitiveness, the sustainability and potential of society will doubtless play a decisive role. If a society is based on key factors such as consensus, equal opportunities and trust over a longer period of time, it can evolve and retain its position in the long term. This is the kind of culture where co-creation is not just a word but a long-standing tradition. To achieve this, freedom, equality and solidarity among citizens are required. Society needs to be nourished by education, individual commitment and a decentralized economy. It needs a form of government that, although not the fastest, is sustainable, spans generations and creates stability.

Swiss legacy as the formula for success

There are many parts to the puzzle that come together over decades – or even centuries – to produce a state that is both evolving and stable. Looking ahead to the future, our advantages as a system, society and the Swiss nation need to be built upon. And, in terms of competitiveness, we need to continue developing and strengthening the potential of digital technologies in the tried-and-tested Swiss way. Our Swiss legacy has always been the formula for success when it comes to our survival alongside the tech giants of our age – and this will remain the case in future.


Unfortunately, Connecta cannot be held as planned. Manuel P. Nappo would have been one of the 80 speakers. An alternative programme is available through Connecta TV, Connecta Doc and Connecta Talk – find out more at www.swisspost.ch/connecta.

Manuel P. Nappo

Manuel P. Nappo studied International Management at the University of St. Gallen (HSG). He has been the Head of the MAS in Digital Business and the Institute for Digital Business at the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich since 2014. In 2019, he launched the Executive MBA in Digital Leadership.

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