Digitization in Germany: Opportunities and Risks of Change

We give you some tips on how to be prepared for digitization!

Digitization in Germany: In this essay we discuss opportunities and risks of change. Photo: Pixabay
Digitization in Germany: In this essay we discuss opportunities and risks of change. Photo: Pixabay

[contains unpaid advertising] Digitization is one of the most far-reaching changes of our time. Almost all areas of daily life, society and the world of work, are affected by digital transformation. Much of what used to be analog and tangible is translated into discrete values. New Financial Technologies, Communication Services, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Industry 4.0 and sometimes more, sometimes less useful apps and Internet services outperform analog technology in record time. Many people feel overwhelmed and detached from the changes. What is the digitalization with us? And for whom does she turn out to be a curse and for whom a blessing? We give you some tips on how to be prepared for digitization. An essay about chances and risks of change.

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The digitization of everyday life and our lifeworld has already begun more than 20 - depending on the interpretation even before 30 or 40 years. But it is only in the last decade that it really makes a noticeable impact and shakes our everyday life, our professional life, our everyday routines, our value system and, ultimately, ourselves as well. With ever new high-tech products like smartphones and computers, digitally connected home appliances, digital services, and automated work processes, digitization is a process so subtle, differentiated, and fragmented that many rigid categories of our thinking are more than quite adaptable to change are. Like the sorcerer's apprentice in Goethe's eponymous poem, the "newcomers" take over and try their hand at power.


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Digitization: definition and scope of the term

Finding an adequate definition of digitization is not that easy. Because the term does not simply describe a simple, static structure, but a sum of hardware, software and processes, which are interlinked and partly mutually condition, complement or even contradict each other. Abstract and yet to the point it brings the definition of gruenderszene.de"The term digitization generally refers to the changes in processes, objects and events that occur as digital devices grow.

In the narrower sense, this means creating digital representations of physical objects, events or analogue media. " Gabler business dictionary Digitalization is defined as a term with several meanings: "It can mean the digital transformation and presentation of information and communication or the digital modification of instruments, devices and vehicles as well as the digital revolution, also known as the third revolution. or the digital revolution. In the latter context, which is dealt with in the present article, not least "information age" and "computerization" are called. While in 20. Since the beginning of the 21, information technology (IT), automation and optimization, the modernization of households and workplaces, the creation of computer networks, and the introduction of software products such as office programs and enterprise resource planning systems, have been in the forefront of the 4.0. Century disruptive technologies and innovative business models as well as autonomization, flexibilization and individualization in digitization in the foreground. This has taken a new direction and leads to the fourth industrial revolution, which in turn is associated with the notion of the industry 4.0 (also "Enterprise XNUMX").

This definition describes digitization quite reliably and should serve as a basis of understanding for all explanations about the phenomenon.

The digital transformation has only just begun. Photo: Pixabay
The digital transformation has only just begun. Photo: Pixabay

The digitalization of the professional world and companies: from the deposed and the visionary

In the context of this essay, I would like to position myself as a rigorous proponent and advocate of digitization in Germany and the accompanying transformation processes. Why this is so, is certainly clear in the course of the post. I would like to discuss the opportunities and risks of digitization in an easy-to-understand and entertaining way.

Not all people in this country have their openness and affection for the digital transformation: many Germans feel that they are disconnected from the digital transformation and participate little or not in the digital world, according to a study by the D21 initiative. In absolute terms, this does not bode well: 16 Millions of Germans do not participate in the developments and / or reject digitization. "We are seeing a positive development: more and more people are moving more confidently, more competent and open-minded in the digital world," emphasizes Hannes Schwaderer, President of the initiative: "But many still do not feel prepared for the digital world." Accordingly Germany's performance in the D21 digital index is also devastating: Just 53 100 points reach the Germans here. The index measures how Germans use the Internet in their private and professional lives. A miserable result for one of the most important economies in the world.

Every employee's nightmare: many fear being replaced by machines. Photo: Pixabay
Every employee's nightmare: many fear being replaced by machines. Photo: Pixabay

The suspended in the open-plan office

Anyone who casts a glance into German offices - or living rooms - immediately recognizes the significance of the problem. There emails are printed out and filed in file folders, copied and pasted, many little notes written. The use of advanced software and sophisticated, effective tools is being vilified, and presence mentality still takes precedence over performance in many organizations. For outsiders, one thing is clear: The backbone of the German economy - the common office worker in all its different facets and executions (including related executives) - still lays an analogous, pre-Christian template on a world that is not digitized in many areas of everyday professional life is, but it is long gone. Now, one might suspect that the backwards will die out over time, but unfortunately that is not the case. With well-worn phrases like "We've always done that here!", The young will be brought on line. Unfortunately, I did not come up with these remarks, but experienced them several times in German companies.

The digital avant-garde is driving the transformation in Germany

On the other hand - and that is certainly quite hopeful - there are a large number of young (and older) entrepreneurs who have recognized the opportunities of digital transformation in Germany. Digital startups are springing up in Germany like mushrooms. Many start-ups bring forth ideas that can - and will - make our lives better, but also bring about changes that many people are afraid of.

Germany urgently needs these entrepreneurs and companies. Because in order to remain competitive and secure jobs, countries need world leaders in technology. So far, Germany is having a hard time producing real digital world market leaders. However, that could change soon with some skill. Many industries are developing promising digital startups that want to revolutionize our usage behavior. The fintech startup N26, for example, takes banking to a new level and breaks up the crusty, heavy structures of veteran banks. And there is also an international competition for market leadership in the fledgling air taxi industry. Here, too, Germany is at the forefront with startup Lilium from Munich. Using the example of the taxis, one can see so wonderfully how digitization leads to tangible changes. A flight taxi is basically a processor-packed, flying supercomputer - and two to five years from now the first flying taxis will whiz over our heads.

Of course, this will not please all people and many backward-looking people would rather go by bus or fill out their transfer by hand - just because they have always done so. But the fact is: The pendulum of digitization in Germany keeps beating out and the belief that these developments can be ignored and even want to undo them is not only naive, but fatal for a society. What was the name of Goethe's "sorcerer's apprentice" who, just over 200 years ago, came to terms with the "Sturm und Drang", a similar revolutionary movement: "I shouted that I can not get rid of the ghosts now."

Digitalization of everyday life: our lives are changing

At this point we try to become more concrete and to deal with the digitization of everyday life. Because this affects us all. From what digital companies have done in the last 20 years, we are profiting massively today. One of the most important milestones for this was probably the market maturity of the smartphone and the associated development of the App Store. Many things would not exist without these infrastructure products, which is part of everyday life for us today. Many startups are building their business models on smartphone apps. A whole ecosystem of companies and service providers has grown out of this. Some of the little helpers we have gained so much in everyday life that we could hardly imagine anymore without getting along. What would we do without Google? Most likely, you also found this article on Google. How was the communication before messenger services like WhatsApp or Telegram - the younger ones can barely remember it. Even some grandma communicates with her grandchildren about it. From this one can derive a thesis: As soon as a technology has become so simple that prepared sections of the population (or the majority of the companies) fall back on it, digitization reaches a new level. In the following, I will try to name some areas of digital transformation that have reached or long passed these stages of development.

Gadgets: the instruments of the revolution

Hardly any other area is so advanced - and perhaps has already exceeded its peak - as the digital gadgets. These include modern laptops like that MacBook Pro, Smartphones like the iPhone or the Galaxy, tablets like that iPad Pro and, of course, variables such as the Apple Watch. Hybrid devices between laptops and tablets are currently more or less ready for the market. The gadget revolution ushered in 2007, as Steve Jobs and Apple the first iPhone imagined. Since then, the technical capabilities of these devices have been improved, refined and further developed. They are used by billions of people everyday in everyday life and job. A huge cosmos of apps, services and uses has evolved around these devices. Without the little programs that run on a smartphone while the devices are virtually useless. Apps are probably more than just the oil in the engine of digitization, they are probably a component of the engine itself.


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But the gadget revolution eats its children as well: Most likely, we've already seen the pinnacle of smart technology development. The devices are only improved in detail, new product categories such as data glasses are not yet mature. Whether a smartphone will fold or not, does not trigger a new revolution. Instead, the revolution in this area has been overheated. It More and more people are engaging with Digital Detox and trying to limit their usage behavior and to reduce the usage.

Fintechs tell the establishment to fight

One of the most exciting areas of digitization in recent years has been so-called Fintechs, ie banking apps and services related to banking, investments and insurancethat can perform both B2C and B2B tasks. Anyone who has ever dealt with the latest fintechs such as the N26 banking app will know why fintechs have slowly but surely become "hot shit" in the past ten years: such programs are based entirely on paperless ones Banking and investments and disruptively disrupt the encrusted market of old-established banks. It was high time for it.

Internet of Things (IoT): Talking about refrigerators and flying cars

One of the most exciting areas of digitization is the Internet of Things. Internet-connected products make digitization tangible. IoT includes networked products that can be controlled, for example, remotely or via an app. In the meantime, this includes many items of household use such as refrigerators, lamps, roller blinds, door locks, IP surveillance cameras and many everyday products, such as the intelligent loudspeaker Amazon Echo with the speech assistant Alexawho not only plays music in living rooms and kitchens, but also actively supports people in their everyday lives - activated by voice command.

Autonomous robotic robots are already part of everyday life today. Photo: Pixabay
Autonomous robotic robots are already part of everyday life today. Photo: Pixabay

But the Internet of Things does not stop there, but is just starting! Self-driving cars will be mass-produced in a few years' time and will revolutionize traffic. And - as I personally think - even more exciting: Autonomous flying taxis and cars are also already close to market. Already in two to five years, these oversized drones will circle over our cities and carry passengers at extremely low cost. While gadgets like the smartphone may have peaked, the Internet of Things makes the future truly exciting!

Shared Economy

You can think about this area of ​​digitization as you like, but the shared economy has many supporters. Apps and technology such as AirBnb, Uber, Car2Go, gadgets and a million other vendors make it possible to share products and services. This is nothing new anymore, but has become firmly established in our culture. Many people - including us - are skeptical about sharing products. But basically the idea is not wrong: Instead of buying products like cars expensive or booking an expensive hotel, we just borrowed, shared and made common cause. As is so often the case, the infrastructure is digital and finds its way into the mass market via apps and websites.

Blockchain

In simple terms, the blockchain is a list of records that is constantly being expanded. These records are called blocks and receive a specific timestamp and transaction data so that each blockchain transaction is traceable and transparent. The technology is used for example in the crypto currency Bitcoin and is now gradually gaining entry into insurance and banking transactions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

This essay was written by a bot. You do not believe that? Good thing, because it is not yet so far. But artificial intelligence significantly improves their skills over the course of a few weeks and months. Especially companies such as Google are showing ever greater success here at shorter and shorter intervals. With the help of machine learning more and more tasks from the human working world can be taken over by artificial intelligence. The example with writing texts is not so bad: Meanwhile, robots can already write complex articles and Produce content for websites, Some AIs already write so well that they from human authors and Content agencies are indistinguishable. At the end Experts may only give seminars and Coaching must be operated for the application of automation software. For complex texts will be needed in the future even copywriterWe can be sure of that. Are you really sure that a human wrote this post?

Man and digital transformation: between contempt, banality and misunderstood

Many older people have been ridiculing the Internet for a long time as a mild form of entertainment. Nice-to-have, but anything but vital. A bit of contempt, a bit of arrogance and a strong conservatism should have contributed to the fact that in Germany is still discussed on broadband expansion, while on the streets of the technological pioneering nations such as China and the US even autonomous cars complete their last test drives before the market. The belief in the banality of the Internet and gadgets, as well as the contempt for the achievements of digitization are deeply rooted in the collective consciousness of the Germans.

A good example of this is the discussion about the benefits of wearables and smartwatches. I already wear it since 2015 daily my Apple Watch and I've always bought the latest model. For that, I received a hundred times disparaging comments from people who think that smartwatches are superfluous. Meanwhile, the products are so mature that the Apple Watch has saved human livesby recognizing cardiac arrhythmias in time and alerting the wearers in good time. Such life-saving functions are provided by future wearables such as the Watch Apple 4 are standard and give a significant meaning to the products, which even today are disdained by many people - of course, only people who get involved with it profit from this.

Probably the clearest expression of disdain for the achievements of digital transformation took place when broad sections of the public in Germany became aware of the fact that refugees have smartphones during the refugee movement 2015 / 2016. It was then excited that these people could not be so bad if they had such a luxury as a smartphone. In it, the whole crux of the digital transformation in Germany comes to the fore: the Internet is still considered by many to be a nice-to-have, but by no means as an integral instrument of everyday life. Two years ago, the very least Germans had come to the conclusion that a smart phone could be vital for a refugee and decide on the arduous way of life and death. What do we conclude from this? First of all, nothing. Let's just leave it that way for now.


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Digitalization of the working world: Are we losing all our jobs?

Digitalisation in Germany is becoming more and more exciting for people when their own workplace is potentially affected. The fear rages here above all before automation and machine learning. Almost 90 percent of Germans are afraid to be digitally hung. This is the conclusion of a representative survey "Technology Radar" of the Center for Interdisciplinary Risk and Innovation Research (Zirius) commissioned by Acatech and the Körber Foundation, as the Handelsblatt reports. According to this, nine out of ten Germans fear that they will not be able to keep pace with digitization. Every second suspects that unemployment will rise. And what's even more amazing is that two-thirds of people in Germany are afraid that cybercriminals could hack into their own homes. From the study, it is important to note that many Germans do not even know what they are really afraid of: Just ten percent of the people were able to define what an algyrmyth is (here I recommend to read again the chapter "The Suspended in the Open plan office "). How do you feel about digitization? Delivered or well prepared? In the next - and last chapter - we have some tips on how to arm yourself best for digitization and keep up with the developments quite easily.

Survival tips: this is how you are prepared for digitization

One of the biggest fears of the people in Germany seems to be that one can no longer stop the digital transformation. You can not - and that's a good thing! "I called, I will not release the ghosts now." I have already read several articles (including this essay).

I will dedicate a complete, own contribution to the following survival tips for the digital transformation. Until then, you can keep afloat with the following ideas and tips to keep pace with digitization.

  1. As the study showed, most Germans are afraid of digitization because they have no idea about what is going on. Therefore the maxim applies: Learn, read, inform yourself! Ideally, you can use Google to gather as much information as you can about the topics of digitization (see the keywords above).
  2. Think about how your job and industry might be affected by automation. If you do a job that could be done by a chimpanzee, chances are very high that soon a robot will take over (also incidentally writing journalistic articles). In any case, you should prepare yourself and, if necessary, take measures to change your career.
  3. Learn a meaningful, moderate and constructive handling of gadgets and IoT products. This is perhaps one of the most important tasks that each of us has at this stage of digitization. Do you participate in the technological innovations. Try new products and apps. Keep what you deem useful and discard what seems imbecilic. I call it "digital competence". We all have to learn that in order not to perish.
In just a few years, airline taxis will become part of everyday life. Photo: Lilium
In just a few years, airline taxis will become part of everyday life. Photo: Lilium

The future will be great!

I'll summarize the last word of these essays, Unfortunately, to cover the full spectrum of digitization would have completely blown the frame. For example, it was not about robotics at all. The whole issue is so encompassing, exciting, and indeed life-changing in every way that the confrontation with it must be a process that lasts. I have read quite often lately that currently the best age of human history is to be in the world - and that's true. Studies show that we are in a time when there is less hunger, less poverty, fewer wars (exceptions unfortunately confirm the rule) and generally fewer conflicts, despite the different reporting by many media.

And that's what digitization has its share in it. Because startups want to change the world for the better. Be it companies that develop food, make mass livestock obsolete or feed malnourished people, fish plastic waste from the sea, produce electric cars like Tesla or plant trees like ecosia.org for searches. Despite skepticism about the digital transformation, we should focus more on the positive achievements and be open to future developments. In fact, we can not stop them anymore. However, I do not much like the image of the spirits I called, or a Pandora's box, but much more of a treasure chest open to us and open to all.

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About Sascha Tobias Tegtmeyer 95 Article
As a journalist, passionate diver and ambitious stand up paddler, I've become more and more specialized in water sports topics. For several years as an online editor, content and SEO manager for the year Top Special Verlag in Hamburg, I edited the leading diving portal TAUCHEN.de editorially and am at home in the water sports industry. My passion is the sea and all the activities that can be practiced on, in, on and under water. To give this child a name, I created www.just-wanderlust.com - for all people who love the sea - love to travel and water sports like diving, surfing, stand up paddling.