Materna is a leading provider of software for government agencies — a field known for its conservative philosophy. Even so, Managing Director Helmut Binder sees the digital transformation as urgent and coming whether those affected like it or not.
Materna has a very good name in specific IT markets. Our products can be found in the IT departments of virtually every large DAX company and in Germany's federal agencies. Our check-in systems can be found in airports in the US, Canada and many European countries. We don't work with consumers, though, so the Materna name is not famous in that sense. For this year we've set ourselves the clear goal of raising our brand profile and expanding our positioning among our target audiences. For us, CeBIT represents an opportunity to further solidify our positioning as experts in public administration.
Digitalization has been a topic for some years now. Many companies in Germany are still really in the infancy of their digital preparations. It's only been in the past 12 to 18 months that we've been noticing that our customers are beginning to take the digital transformation seriously and that companies are becoming more open to digitization. Digitization is an ongoing process and has no defined end. The degree of digital readiness changes over times, and increases through permanent technological improvement and creative innovation. That for me is "no limits."
The digital transformation has shown in impressive style that good ideas tailored to the customer are and remain the best guarantee for economic success. This is the only way to account for the success stories of Uber, Airbnb and Thermomix from Vorwerk. These companies have shown an uncanny ability to seize upon the opportunities inherent to the digital world, and in the process developed entirely novel business models that create real value for customers. They genuinely use their analyses of customer data to make their products and services better on an ongoing basis. That is fascinating.
The limits of digitization are primarily ethical, not technical, in nature. With our current level of development, we are just a few steps removed from scenarios where a cell phone won't work when you're driving unless you have it on speaker phone, or where you won't be able to run a red light because your vehicle will automatically brake instead.
Rules to reflect those technologies are currently being worked out. What remains to be clarified are the questions of ethics, responsibility and liability: in the red-light scenario above, who whole be responsible for a traffic accident — the vehicle maker, the driver or the software developer. How would a court decide if the car decided on its own to swerve onto the sidewalk to avoid a collision with another road vehicle?
The rapid development in the field of Cognitive Computing will create additional opportunities here. No simple answers to these questions have been found yet. I see boundaries here that will need answers as well move into increasing digitization.
"The limits of digitization are primarily ethical in nature."
At our stand in the Public Sector Parc we'll be presenting our newest solutions for the three touchpoints of digital administration — government agencies, companies and citizens. We've got several innovations in store for these three target audiences. Each of the touchpoints for government agencies has been addressed, with showcases for the trending topics of electronic invoicing, electronic identification with the new national ID card, secure signatures with smartphones and chatbots as a modern portal for citizen services
Beyond this we have also addressed our corporate customers: as partners with IBM, we're presenting at the IBM stand, with solutions for the private cloud based on IBM's Bluemix Private Cloud and operated from a German data center. We've also enhanced the IBM cloud to include managed services. Finally, Materna's CeBIT presentation will also feature a showcase with elements of "Cognitive Computing" based on IBM Watson, such as innovative chatbots to improve the performance of a service desk by integrating cognitive services. Our goal is to apply our solutions to transform our customers' IT into an agile, cloud-based future.