A murmur goes through the stands. Spectators jump up. Photographers crowd around a group of people in the first row of the grandstand. Arnold Schwarzenegger is there. The former Mister Universum, Hollywood actor and ex-governor of California will speak about his path from terminator to climate activist at Digital X, the digitalization initiative chosen by Deutsche Telekom for the world’s digitization exhibition. The “governator” is accompanied by celebrities from sports and film: Gladiator Ralf Moeller and boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko.
In his Digital-X speech, Schwarzenegger describes the fight against climate change as his most important task in his life. It has always been an incentive for him to be the best in his discipline. “When I was a child, it wasn’t my vision to one day become an environmentalist. But it is high time to do something about climate change. That is why I already introduced the strictest environmental laws in the USA as governor of California. ”The native of Styria also relies on digital technology for this. Despite all warnings that too much environmental protection is damaging economic development, he has made California one of the largest economies in the world.
Digital companies more resilient in times of crisis
The 30,000 visitors to Digital X could not only find out from Arnold Schwarzenegger how business and administration can be trimmed for the future with digital solutions. In addition to Telekom as the organizer, around 100 companies showed the opportunities offered by digital transformation on five stages and the accompanying exhibition. Medium-sized companies have also recognized this, said the Digital-X patron and business customer boss of Telekom Germany, Hagen Rickmann. “Digitization makes the difference. This was also shown by the pandemic. Companies that are already more digitalized have survived the pandemic better than less digital companies in their sector. ”In discussions with medium-sized customers, he is currently stating“ that they all want to invest more in digitalization and transform themselves digitally. ”
According to Bitkom survey Due to the corona pandemic, companies took concrete digitization measures from November 2020: in terms of technology, business processes and employees. According to the study, the most important goals are to ensure the resilience of one’s own company (96 percent) and to be better prepared for future crises (96 percent). 59 percent of the companies surveyed want to make up for omissions in digitization and almost every second even plans to digitize their own company sustainably in order to open up new business areas.
Digital investments pay for themselves in the short term
However, the will to digital transformation alone does not lead to more digitization. Digital solutions are springing up like mushrooms, as the Digital X alone shows. But especially in small and medium-sized companies, the digital transformation often fails due to a lack of competence. Large, financially strong corporations can buy in a lack of internal know-how. “Medium-sized companies in Germany have always been so successful because the companies have always been technically strong and have invested in their respective core fields. It is not for nothing that there are so many hidden champions among medium-sized companies in Germany, ”says Hagen Rickmann. In addition to core competencies, digital transformation requires a digital strategy and digital know-how, which is often not available internally. “We therefore offer consulting packages, show digitization options based on use cases and implement them together with partners. This investment usually pays for itself after a short time. “
The lack of digitization skills is also reflected in the poor funding rate in Germany. In mid-2020, the federal government alone decided on an economic stimulus program worth 130 billion, which Federal Finance Minister Olaf Schulz announced with a “boom”. One in three of the 56 measures under the program is aimed at digitization. Rickmann: “50 billion euros are earmarked for the digitization of the German economy. Small and medium-sized companies can apply for 25 billion euros directly for digital projects. In some cases, these are even grants without the obligation to count back later. ”However, after around one and a half years, only 15 percent of the funding program had been withdrawn.
Find funding for digitization measures
Telekom wants to change this and show small and medium-sized companies how to get the funding. For this purpose, the company offers a funding hotline and an app “My Funding” that helps you apply for funding. “In order for the economic stimulus program to develop in the best possible way in terms of digitization, good navigation through the funding programs is required,” says Hagen Rickmann. Which is necessary, because there are currently around 2,700 funding programs from the economics ministries.
The investment promotion program “Digital Jetzt” for SMEs supports, for example, investments in hardware and software for internal and external networking, IT security and data protection or the qualification of employees. There are grants of up to 100,000 euros through this program. Many of the grants from the programs are not interest-free loans, but rather money that does not have to be paid back. The logistics service provider Mars from Nuremberg, for example, has applied for a package of vehicle tracking solution, IT security and data protection, IP and mobile telephony, collaboration from the cloud and employee training through Telekom’s funding advisory service. With an investment volume of 100,000 euros, Mars received a grant of 50,000 euros.
Digital startup scene in Germany
The size of the startup scene in Germany was shown by 40 startups from the Telecom support program TechBoost at the Digital X. The Düsseldorf technology company Doob has developed 3D scanning and printing modules that humans can use to create digital twins. Companies can use such avatars for marketing, training or customer service, for example. Companies are also increasingly using avatars for virtual reality applications. The startup 4tiitoo sees the future of computer control in eye tracking based on artificial intelligence. The solution can reduce the use of computer mice and improve ergonomic working. SAP offers all employees the use of the eye tracking solution at their workplaces.
Digital X is Europe’s largest cross-industry digitization initiative. More than 300 national and international partners are involved in it. The concept: network, exchange and learn from one another in the sense of digital progress. Further details on the digitization initiative can be found at www.telekom.com/digitalx.