Digital:Relaunch Conference 2019
Expert knowledge at a high frequency
Anyone who was used to the high level of professional exchange at previous relaunch conferences knew that the first conference under the name Digital:Relaunch could only be a success. Infopark invited German SMEs and numerous disruption experts to the stylish nhow Hotel on the Spree. Over two days, experts gave a broad status update on the state of "digitalization in German SMEs" and looked to the future in the course of 18 podiums and lectures as well as four full-day workshops. One thing is certain: Germany and its small and medium-sized enterprises have a lot of catching up to do, but with combined efforts they are up to the task!
Innovating is more important than researching: Coalition of the willing
Bernd Völcker, CEO at Infopark, emphasizes right from the start how important it is to ignore the brakeman in the company and instead to ally oneself with like-minded people: "One should form a coalition of the willing [in order to advance digitalization].
At the same time, he explains what he finds so exciting about the agile approach: "Even if a little thing goes wrong, it doesn't carry so much weight." In this way it is possible to move forward in smaller intervals and adapt much faster.
The fact that Infopark is moving with the times is proven by Völckers' commitment to modern educational qualifications: "Nano-degrees are officially recognized today. […]. We at Infopark recognize nano-degrees as equivalent to university courses."
The agile approach also includes testing products on the market at an early stage. For Constantin Gonzalez Schmitz (Principal Solutions Architect at AWS) one thing is certain: "An MVP helps you to get quick feedback from your customers. […]. Today, based on data, you receive feedback as to whether your ideas are being received by the customer.”
For innovative processes or products, however, the entire company does not have to be turned upside down every time. Sudan Jackson (People Manager, REWE Digital) stresses the importance of improving where you stand: "Stop disrupting things. That's total nonsense. You don't have to consume infinite resources to create something new.”
Establish innovation teams
Large companies have familiar processes, supplier relationships and revenue streams. Philipp Depiereux, founder and managing director of etventure, explains why small, separate innovation teams outside the core organization are so important: "Speed is more important than control. Digital services are developed and tested on the market within hours. […] In the core organization, you will be shot immediately.” In particular, he calls for more courage to make mistakes: "Outside the core organization, we need a culture of constant failure. […] If something tests positively, we bring it back to the core organization.”
How do you instill the spirit of digitalization into traditional companies? Speaker Jacob Fahrenkrug knows the answer to this very exactly. He used to be CTO of the online games publisher Gamigo/Aeria Games and is now in the same position at the VIESSMANN subsidiary V C/O, the parent company's innovation department.
At the conference, he talks about how Viessmann already uses tools such as Gsuite by Google and Asana and regularly holds leadership summits. Every employee also has transparent access to company figures.
In order to initiate change processes in the company, three points must be observed, according to Fahrenkrug: "Finding a customer problem, creating maximum transparency in the goals and budget and accompanying this communicatively in the right team". But nothing moves ahead if the top management doesn't follow suit: "In the end, innovations will only succeed if they are driven from the very top".
Establish innovation teams
In the panel "Digitalisation konkret", headed by the Tagesspiegel and the Commerzbank digitalization platform #openspace, a focus of conversation quickly emerges: NewWork. Right from the start Anna Kaiser, founder of Tademploy, makes it clear: "'New Work' is not a buzzword, but mission critical. Nowadays, unfortunately, people often still work in silos, knowledge is not shared.”
when modernizing companies it is important to consider the "absolute esteem of the individual. […] I want to give a person who has been on the assembly line for 30 years now the chance to help develop the systems for the new plant," says Kaiser.
When a company develops or implements collaboration tools, you really have to try to reach EVERY employee, says Susanne Nitzsche (Head of Innovation Lab, ALBA): "Not all our drivers have a smartphone.”
Flexible working time models are important above all in order to get the best brains: "You can't find good full-time IT specialists. Everyone wants to have their projects completed on the side," says Kaiser (Tandemploy).
Anna Kaiser further explains why she wants to turn the big wheel at Tandemploy:"Only if we think utopian can we take small steps in the right direction.” After all, this procedure has already borne great fruit: "A few years ago no one knew about job sharing; soon the 90,000 employee company SAP is going to go live with job sharing for all management positions," Kaiser continued.
Focus on the human being
Sudan Jackson (People Manager, REWE Digital) convinces not only with his expertise in content, but also with his entertainment qualities. He stresses why he has become so "people-driven" in the course of his career: "As HR Director […] at Capgemini, I always asked myself the question "How would I like to be treated? And that's why I treat people well. '"
AI ethics and diversity
Florian Dohmann of Birds on Mars says that we are currently in an "AI summer": "We now have the data on the one hand and the computing power on the other. […] We're building more and more superhuman calculating machines.” But we must strive to ensure that they don't fall into the same bias trap as we humans: "What comes out of an AI when 80% of the developers are male?”
Creating diversity is therefore the credo of current AI efforts. Dohmann stresses another point. “We also need the gaze of sociologists and artists […]. That's why we founded the "No MINT" initiative.” So AI has to get out of the IT niche. It's a topic of broad relevance.
Who likes servers?
"Who likes web servers?” Thomas Witt (Scrivito & Infopark) asks the audience. Few respond positively. Witt replies to the few who do: "Web servers are a thing of the past. […] Actually, we want FaaS (Function-as-a-service).”
But what are the advantages of serverless computing? "Serverless" means above all cost-savings, according to Witt: "The idea of serverless computing is that I don't pay for the booked time, but for the real use.“ In 2018 Thomas Witt raved about modern network architecture at the relaunch conference: "ReactJS and serverless computing allow powerful web applications that work like native apps and without servers," said Witt at the time.
Costumer Centricity at AWS
Digital:Relaunch Conference showed how 'innovation on behalf of your customer' is created using the Amazon best practice case. According to Conzales Schmitz, digitalization is not an end in itself, but rather "if you create added value from data". “The reason Customer Centricity is so 'in' today is that the customer has zero switching costs in the digital world," continues Gonazales Schmitz. The following figures illustrate what customer centricity par excellence looks like for Amazon Web Services: "We have reduced prices 69 times and currently have more than 100 services for Amazon Web Services.” How much movement there is at Amazon in general is also demonstrated by this figure: In 2014, there were a total of 64 million software deployments at Amazon in the Amazon cosmos, i. e. two updates in half a second.
Europe's role: problem identified
The renowned economist and author Holger Schmidt ("net economist") spoke about the global platform economy and revealed a frightening figure: "Europe is only at 3 percent because I have included SAP. Otherwise, we'd be at 1%.” He emphasizes the necessity that Germany finally starts to monetize its innovations: "We automate, digitize processes. . . […] But we're not good at constructing digital business models.” And adds: "In most cases, it is not a better product but a digital business model that has caused disruption.”
Sudan Jackson (People Manager at REWE Digital) sums up the lapse of Germany and Europe in comparison to the rest of the world: "People we photographed earlier on vacation because they were washing their laundry in the river are taking pictures of us today because we still use credit cards." It is time to wake up from the digitalization paralysis. But how?
German Mittelstand: Let's do it!
Anna Kaiser (Tandemploy) is confident despite widespread criticism of Germany's state of digitalization: "There are no insurmountable hurdles, no problems […]" But to do this you have to rely on the European value system and not just look to Silicon Valley.
She adds: "With the right objectives: We will be able to develop markets which we cannot even imagine today. […] And we have the people. All we have to do is bring them together and empower them - and then it's on.”
Joachim Köhler (Managing Director #openspace) agrees with Anna Kaiser: "The best response to a shortage of skilled workers is to empower your people themselves and put them in the locomotive, to provide them with the right tools and methods to. . . and I'll give you a little more. […] The appeal is: 'Engineering translates into business models' and to put your own employees at the forefront. Then I'm not worried about the SMEs either.” What better way to wrap it up.
A great conference day and many workshops cannot be covered completely in a blog article. We have something very special for everyone who wants to review the day: Infopark will send every new newsletter subscriber the slides of the conference.