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Digitale Transformation

Interview with Bitkom-President Achim Berg

Bitkom president Achim Berg discusses the latest trade exhibition concepts and investment in digitalisation.

11 Jun. 2018
Source: Nick Neufeld
Source: Nick Neufeld
"CEBIT Has Completely Reinvented Itself"

Bitkom president Achim Berg discusses the latest trade exhibition concepts and investment in digitalisation.

Is there still a need for trade exhibitions when information is so easily exchanged by digital means nowadays?

Absolutely! Even though home working and web conferencing are becoming more dominant in the modern workplace, opportunities to meet face to face will continue to be absolutely essential. We usually prefer to discuss important issues in person, as this adds a different dimension to the way we communicate and interact with one another. This is why trade exhibitions will continue to be extremely important in the future.

Is CEBIT still relevant today?

CEBIT has completely reinvented itself. A modern trade exhibition needs to offer so much more than just exhibitor stands. It should provide a place to meet, exchange information and ideas, and to debate in open discussion forums or at events that have a festival-style atmosphere. This is why the new CEBIT concept has been embraced so positively by the IT industry. The right changes are being implemented at the right time!

What sort of opportunities will German companies have to play a prominent role among global leading players during the next stage of digitalisation?

German companies are ranked among the top global players in terms of innovation, particularly in fields such as blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, the mobility of tomorrow and 3D printing. Now it is a question of turning innovative ideas into marketable products. However, this requires investment. According to a recent survey conducted by Bitkom, digitalisation has become the core strategy of two thirds of all the companies that were surveyed. However, only one in five companies actually invests in digital business models. There is a wide gap between knowledge and action that German businesses urgently need to plug.

What sorts of risks to you envisage?

Digitalisation is developing at an exponential rate. It will be a steep uphill journey if we start late and have to play catch-up. It is therefore very important to invest early, to develop a good understanding of new technologies and platforms and to convert new discoveries into marketable products. Even if German industry is enjoying a good run at the moment, it should still always keep an eye on the future.

Achim Berg has been president of Bitkom, the German Association for Information Technology, since June 2017. He previously worked as a senior manager at Deutsche Telekom and Microsoft, and was also CEO of Arvato. 68 % of German companies believe that digital transformation is an essential element of their business strategy.