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Harald Lindlar

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"No one is talking about digitization"

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I had a very surprising takeaway from my walk through Hannover Messe this week: machine tool and equipment manufacturers speak a different language.

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In contrast to CeBIT last month, where every poster contained the buzzword "Digitization," I really had to look hard to find that term in halls 4, 5 or 6. Aha, I thought, digitization hasn't reached these companies yet. The digitization level among industrial companies is currently around 50 percent, say the studies. That seems true here as well: no one is talking about digitization. Really? No one?

Deutsche Telekom has a booth at this industrial trade fair for the third year running, presenting all kinds of connected things on over 800 square meters of exhibition space: a refrigerator, a bike, robotic arms of course – and even a delicious dessert. But why, if no one is talking about digitization? Well, my initial impression proved to be deceptive. The trade fair's motto is "Integrated Industry – Creating Value." And although the drivers of digital industry aren't talking much about digitization, they are talking a lot about connected actuators and sensors, integrated systems or automated value chains. When they take a step into the digital world, they don't call it "digitization"; they simply call it "the future." Many exhibitors are quite far along or are guiding their customers. And most of them have already learned: I can't do it by myself – as indicated by huge posters with partner logos that are displayed at most of the booths. The message that "integrated industry creates value" has been understood.

Of course, companies that want to connect actuators and sensors, connect two production sites or automate integrated machine pools cannot avoid digital information and communication technology. The quadruple play for industry here is connectivity, cloud computing, the Internet of Things and security. The connectivity must be supported by a top-class network, domestic and international. Connected industry is providing the major drivers for the new 5G technology, which will be used to manage billions of things in the Internet simultaneously. The mountains of data that result from this require the cloud, which feeds the Internet of Things. And because billions of connected devices also increase the number of attractive targets for cyber-attacks, security at an industrial level is an essential prerequisite. My conclusion from the trade fair: with our "Fantastic 4," Deutsche Telekom has rightfully achieved its position at Hannover Messe in 2017, alongside top dogs like Siemens and Bosch. And: digitization helps to shape the future. One way or the other, let's keep talking about it.

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