Without standards, coping with data loss at system interfaces becomes prohibitively expensive. To investigate the importance of standards for digital transformation, this study used the exclusive dataset of the 2016 IW Future Panel to survey approximately 1,200 companies. Their replies make clear that the majority of German firms regard standards as important for digital transformation. However, those companies that have introduced standards have often done so not out of any strategic consideration but in response to their customers’ requirements. The likelihood of adopting standards increases with the existence of a corporate digital strategy, the level of turnover and the number of partner companies. The main obstacles are doubts about the benefits in relation to the costs and a lack of standardization among customers and suppliers. The survey thus shows that the absence of standardization acts as a brake on digitization.While standards are indispensable for digital transformation, companies only start adopting them when they are already at an advanced stage in the process. This means that non-digital companies are preventing their digital peers from benefiting from the network effects to be gained from standardization. Thus failure to digitalize also inhibits standardization.