Data becomes 21st Century's Raw Material
“Big data” was a common thread running through CeBIT 2014. The vast range of apps on display highlighted the enormous opportunities awaiting all sectors of the economy from harnessing today’s rapidly growing volumes of data.
Big data is about to make a breakthrough in Germany, as elsewhere, according to a survey conducted by the BITKOM high-tech association. Almost one in every 10 businesses is already using big data solutions, according to this survey, and another 31 percent have firm plans to do so.
This year’s CeBIT offered numerous practical illustrations of the huge opportunities arising from the analysis of data flows. Software AG and other companies exhibited solutions that allow businesses to keep pace with the incredible growth in data volumes associated with the Internet of Things. This requires ultra-fast software architectures (intelligent business operations). The automotive sector has already established itself as a key player in the booming market for machine-to-machine communications.
Accordingly CeBIT is becoming an increasingly important event for automakers. The Volkswagen Group showcased its design concepts for the IT future of the automotive industry on more than 900 square meters of exhibition space. A standout example was the Audi simulation model “James 2025”, with a virtual cockpit illustrating what the experience of piloted driving (autonomous driving) might look like in just a few years’ time.
"Our cars are already computing centers on wheels, with 1.5 kilometers of wiring, more than 50 control devices and the computing power of 20 state-of-the-art PCs." Martin Winterkorn, CEO Volkswagen
A first step in this direction is the implementation of fast LTE wireless data communication capability in vehicles. One of Vodafone’s exhibits at CeBIT was a “global SIM”, operating reliably at temperatures from minus 40 to plus 85 degrees Celsius.
Another big idea for the future was an “Industry 4.0” project (equivalent to “Advanced Manufacturing” in the U.S.) implemented by Microsoft in partnership with Krones AG, a major manufacturer of process, filling and packaging systems for the beverage industry. This design concept illustrated the opportunities arising from the horizontal and vertical integration of people and machines.
A further drawing card at CeBIT was an SAP app used to compile training data from members of the German national soccer team, and to help the team in its preparations for the World Cup in Brazil. The players’ socks are fitted with special data-recording sensors. Team manager Oliver Bierhoff attended the Hannover event to present the smartphone app used to display the players’ strengths and weaknesses.
Networking technology is also being used to make travel more convenient and less subject to mishaps, as demonstrated at the Deutsche Telekom stand with its Bag2Go tracking solution. The owner of one of the smart suitcases developed by T-Systems, Airbus and RIMOWA can run an app to check out its location at any time, thanks to a Wi-Fi chip and GPS tracker fitted to the bag.