“Germany needs a digital ministry”

According to the most important German software manager, education is the key issue for successful digitization. But by no means the only one.

Dhe next federal government has to set up a digital ministry and digital education is the most important issue when it comes to making Germany fit for the future. That said the spokesman for the board of the largest German software company SAP, Christian Klein, at the FAZ congress. “We need a central digital ministry to enforce education across the board.” More money is required to train teachers accordingly.

Almost regardless of the future career choice, better computer skills are urgently needed, the technology manager made clear. “Every industrial company is increasingly becoming a software company.” When it comes to digital education, it is currently still “a coincidence where the child goes to school, and it cannot be that”.

So far there is no digital ministry in Berlin, but the discussion about it has been all the longer. Instead, the ministries of economics and research are responsible for the digital, and the chancellery also has appropriate staff. At the same time, the schools are the responsibility of the federal states. SAP boss Klein let it be known that he considers the processes in this area to be too slow and not very ambitious overall.

Share more data

Although he identified education as a central topic for successful digitization, it was by no means the only one. Klein also considers the technological goals that the EU Commission had just issued under the heading “Digital Decade” to be right and important: These include, for example, that Europe should produce a fifth of advanced semiconductors, develop its own quantum computers and tens of millions of new IT specialists should train. “These are all the right goals,” said Klein.

More and better technology is only one thing, however, and people’s attitudes are another, if the digital transformation is to succeed. Klein believes it is necessary that Germans also become less anxious when it comes to providing and sharing personal data. As an explosive example, he named the Corona warning app, which could be significantly more effective with more data.

More courage

The willingness to deal more freely with data is not only an issue for each individual user, but also for German companies – from medium-sized companies to corporations. “We have outstanding know-how in mechanical engineering or in automotive engineering. Now we have to create large B2B platforms, we have to break down data silos, share data, ”demanded Klein – and aimed at ensuring that the race is still open in the industrial sector, which companies like Facebook and Amazon have already won in the end-user sector to have.

He named the “Automotive Alliance” that was established in this country last December as groundbreaking. In this, automobile manufacturers and suppliers have come together in order to share data, to be able to access it together and, for example, to track supply chains in more detail or to notice fluctuations in demand more quickly.

Klein expressed confidence that Germany has not yet lost touch. As a result of the pandemic in particular, awareness has changed in many places and some measures have been accelerated. “Nobody asks themselves the question of whether they have to convert and digitize, it’s all about the implementation.” Many companies have quickly and successfully converted to selling on the Internet, supply chains have been digitized. “Two of the leading vaccine manufacturers come from Germany,” noted the SAP boss.

“Courage is necessary,” Klein warned several times. It takes more courageous decisions to leave the beaten track. Change succeeds not only through technology, but through courageous people. This is the only way to create new business models.