Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI
Hasso-Plattner-Institut25 Jahre HPI

Industrie 4.0-Conference 2019

24. Januar 2019

On January 24 the fifth Industrie 4.0 Conference of Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) was held. Entitled “Meet the Hidden Champions—IoT-Innovations of SMEs in Germany,” the focus of the conference was on small and medium-sized enterprises. Around 250 guests from science, industry, and politics came together in Potsdam to join in discussions on the potential of Industrie 4.0, and to address the challenges it poses for the companies today.

The focus area of small and medium-sized enterprises was specifically chosen for the title of the event, said host and HPI director Professor Christoph Meinel at the start of the conference. Ultimately it is here that decisive battles in the field of the IoT must be won. Not only are humans and machines becoming increasingly connected, but also machines and machines. This development creates new attack risks, making discussions on the topic of IT security at various level crucial. The key significance of IT security was also raised by Minister President of Brandenburg, Dr. Dietmar Woidke. It is important that all people benefit from the great gift of digitization. Areas beyond the city limits must also be encouraged to get on board, and it is essential that Germany further invest in this sector.

Professor Mario Ohoven, president of BVMW (the German Association for Small and Medium-sized Businesses) praised the progress made by German SMEs. In the meantime, Germany has not only climbed to the top of the IoT field globally, but it is at its peak. From the total of 2,700 “hidden champions” worldwide, 1,390 come from Germany. However, SMEs are also increasingly being affected by the shortage of IT specialists. Ohoven called for the government to finally create a digital ministry and to increase its investment in digital education significantly above the currently planned 5 billion euro mark.

Christian Decker, CEO of DESMA, the hidden champion from Bremen, went on to describe the effects of the ever-growing digitization on the shoe market. The Chinese online platform Alibaba has now succeeding in selling more shoes in 24 hours than the worldwide largest shoe manufacturer Nike sold in a year!  Germany has laid a good foundation in recent years, but must now take care not to miss any new opportunities.

During and after the coffee break, five startups presented their products and innovations. The startup Synfioo, founded in 2015, is in the logistics business and specializes in time-of-arrival forecasting in the logistics chain. According to Marin Pufahl, CEO of Synifoo GmbH, companies often have no idea what happens to their goods once they leave their premises. In order to calculate the arrival time of goods for customers, a large amount of data from very different data sources are collected. The length of transport is ultimately dependent on a variety of factors, such as the partners involved, the weather, possible traffic jams, strikes or delays.

Chief of the State Chancellery and State Minister of the Free State of Saxony, Oliver Schenk gave the afternoon keynote address. He emphasized that besides solving problems facing humankind today the digital transformation creates wealth. Schenk called for a nationwide technological infrastructure. “Digitization processes also allow us the time to integrate IT specialist into more creative activities.”

The panel, which was moderated by Professor Norbert Gronau from the University of Potsdam, then turned to the topic of “Enabling the IoT.” While Nadine Rahman,CEO of the TiSC AG, sees the technology driver as  primarily people, Ingo Hecker of Siemens AG, addressed the companies themselves, giving them direct advice: simply get started. In the last panel discussion, moderated by Hannah Suppa, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung, the participants talked about the Internet of Things in practical terms. Here again, the discussion turned to the subject of digital education. Answers were sought to questions of how companies can continuously motivate and educate their employees and see to it that they jump on the bandwagon of the rapid development that is taking place around us.

Gallery: Industrie 4.0-Conference 2019