Every March, there’s hardly a better place to be for the IT industry than CeBIT in Hanover, Germany. With digitalization transforming work, life and business models, the world’s largest IT event this year spotlighted the digitalization of the economy and society.

Stand 2.JPGSAP was also in Hanover. Our main message was that business is simple with the SAP HANA Platform. Check out the video for the details: SAP at CeBIT 2016.

CeBIT was also a great opportunity for me to meet six extraordinary people.

German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel

Every year, German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel takes a tour at CeBIT to gain first-hand experience of new technologies. Once again, I had the pleasure to welcome her at the SAP booth. Our chancellor demo focused on building smart cities and connected traffic patterns. I showcased how transport can flow better and how traffic, vehicles, public infrastructure, energy supply, companies and people can communicate seamlessly with each other via the Internet of Things (IoT).

Merkel 2.JPGStreetlights of the future will connect smart, efficient energy concepts with smart sensors. We can combine data from different sources to analyze traffic in real time. We can also simulate, plan, and optimize the traffic flow for different scenarios. But the real value comes from enriching city data with information we get from the tech industry, logistics companies and individual vehicles.

In the end, it is all about connected networks. By connecting multiple IoT scenarios, we can make cities smarter, safer, more efficient, and tackle the challenges of growing urbanization.

EU-Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Guenther H. Oettinger

In his role as EU-Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Guenther H. Oettinger is a strong advocate of the “Digital Union.” During the Welcome Night, which was attended by over 2,000 guests from business and politics, he called for a single digital market and European-wide legislation, pointing out that national borders are rather irrelevant in the context of digitalization.

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During his visit to our booth, we presented our showcase: “The Connected Stadium.” Imagine a typical Saturday in Germany. Soccer fans fill the stadiums of Bundesliga clubs across the country. This presents those in charge of organizing these mega events with a major logistical challenge. In this scenario, we demonstrated how fans can use the smartphone app “TwoGo” to find a shared ride and reserve a parking space – all while buying a ticket. Meanwhile, stadium managers can use heat maps to obtain real-time information on traffic, provide alternative parking opportunities, and guide fans to open spots as they arrive to the stadium.

Federal Minister of Education and Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka

As a member of the Government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka participated not only in our “chancellor demo,” but also visited the SAP booth for our showcase: “Live Decision-Making.”

Wanka 2.JPGSince the SAP HANA Platform provides a single source of real-time data, all the information relevant to important business decisions flows into a single repository. That means users no longer have to use stale data based on outdated PowerPoint or Excel files; instead, they can rely on the latest data drawn straight from a company’s core processes. Three touchscreens displayed crucial information and let attendees select their preferred level of detail. The SAP HANA foundation enables managers to make decisions and trigger actions right when they need it.

Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost, Design Researcher and Germany’s Digital Champion for the European Commission

Gesche Joost made a memorable remark in December 2015: “Digital is the new normal.” She, and her team at the Design Research Lab of the Berlin University of the Arts, research new forms of interactions between humans and machines, as well as wearable technology. In addition, she represents the German federal government in the EU commission in matters of the digital agenda.

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Since 2015, she has been a member of the Supervisory Board of SAP SE. She took a tour of the SAP booth to see how SAP is gaining ground in IoT and the digital economy.

Timotheus Höttges, CEO Deutsche Telekom AG

To keep pace with digitalization, companies need IT systems that are agile and can be adapted quickly. Smart, agile cloud-based solutions are one way to create this much-needed IT infrastructure.

In Hannover, Deutsche Telekom announced the “go-live” of the Open Telekom Cloud, an OpenStack-based infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Engineered by Huawei and operated by T-Systems, the Open Telekom Cloud will deliver flexible and convenient cloud services to European enterprises.

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On stage with Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom AG, and Eric Xu, Rotating CEO of Huawei, I was pleased to extend our relationship with Deutsche Telekom and announce plans to join the Open Telekom Cloud. Personally, I look forward to delivering the value of our solutions through Deutsche Telekom’s public cloud platform.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, CEO of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence

The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz or DFKI) is the leading German research institute in the field of innovative software technology. CEO Prof. Wahlster invited me to their booth. The DFKI team presented technologies for doing visual sentiment analysis of 100 million images, multimedia opinion mining, and trend analysis for automatic analysis of public opinions based on heterogeneous mass data.

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They also addressed the topic of Industrie 4.0. DFKI is researching eye-tracking technology; attention management for human-machine collaboration; interactive manual assembly processes for human-centered jobs of the future; activity assistance in an industrial production environment; Big Data production optimization in smart ecosystems, among other key scenarios. They’re thinking about the “big” questions – meaning, the added value of deeper analysis of heterogeneous data for supply-chain management and mobility monitoring.

I was very impressed by the research results! Prof. Wahlster and I discussed possibilities of further cooperation. One idea would be to monitor mission-critical infrastructures that are difficult to access, say, oil pipelines at the bottom of the sea. Currently, ships monitor the maintenance of these pipelines manually, with operational costs of up to 250,000 Euros daily! Autonomous devices could take over these tasks in the future, lowering costs and providing information in real time.

My Key Takeaways

Digital transformation is not just hype. It needs to be on the agenda for every company around the globe, no matter the size or industry. Only companies that master digital transformation successfully will be the rising stars of the near future.

Merkel_Wanka.JPGMastering it requires a huge cultural change and the reinvention of every business. Every employee must be prepared for that change, and every company should answer five key questions to be successful. How do I engage with my customers? How am I different from my competitors? How will digital transformation change my method of production? How can I optimize my profitable business for the future demands of the market? How can I scale my business?

Eager to learn more? Take a look at two more videos: my take on digitalization and my keynote during the CeBIT Global Conferences.

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