CeBIT's core topic this year is the d!conomy – the megatrend of digitization and its effects, its consequences and the business opportunities it holds for companies and employees, for founders and investors. This doesn't sound new, but the trend has developed completely a different dynamic compared with just a few years ago. By now most companies are already digitized to a surprising extent: Business and internal processes are organized with the help of enterprise resource planning software; business models are planned and evaluated digitally; customer relations and supply chains are controlled and managed digitally.
One buzzword in the d!conomy consists of "Industry 4.0" (aka "Advanced Manufacturing"), the complex significance of which will be discussed during the "future talk" conference at CeBIT. The anchor exhibit is "SmartF-IT", an eight-meter long production line which serves as an example of a smart factory. The production line represents an IT-supported, integrated, viable complete model demonstrating how technology can support human labor using things like robotic assistance systems.
The demonstration focuses on the production of different versions of customized products, beginning with a batch size of one. SmartF-IT gives a face to what is explained in theory and discussed in the approximately 100 discussion sessions, presentations and demonstrations taking place in connection with future talk.
Industry 4.0 is made possible by what is known as the "Internet of Things". It transforms the workpiece and the workpiece carrier into integrated objects; machines become agents and the production line is intelligent. But that’s not all: It is changing future career and operational prospects and even our everyday lives. This observation is nothing new, but this year it will be possible to actually experience the increasingly significant Internet of Things – similar to 2008, when the mobile Internet was experienced tangibly for the first time, whereas only computer nerds had previously had the opportunity. That was when terminal devices first became affordable and the infrastructure was powerful enough for the app economy to be invented.
Mobile data has now long since become part of our everyday lives. Whether it involves making payments or whether it relates to the workplace, education or banking – the individual user now acts digitally and interactions leave behind data points. As a result, Big Data is the next digital buzzword. Data analysis opens up new opportunities, as "smart services" create new markets. future talk will feature the Smart Service World – the German government's new future project. This project aims to build a foundation and help deliver standards. It aims to identify the right public policy framework to facilitate successful business models and partnerships. These standards could well come from Europe – and the curtain may well be lifted on them at future talk.
About the author: Reinhard Karger is the corporate spokesperson for the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and president of the German Association for Information and Knowledge (DGI). In the "future talk" forum at CeBIT, he will moderate several different presentations and be available for face-to-face conversations on our digital future.