Video interview: Hagen Rickmann questions Philip Erler, CIO Zalando

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Learn in this interview what the CIO of a “digital native” company regards as the challenges of digitization. Whether data sovereignty is important to him. And who he thinks is in charge.

Digitization affects every one of us – whether private individual, government, or business. What is Zalando doing about digitization right now? What do you think digitization will bring in the future?

We were born as digital natives, so our business processes are pretty digital as a matter of course. What we're examining right now is, how will the working world change through digitization? How can we succeed in meshing our employees even more closely together, so each individual can bring their best skills to the table?

What do you think we will see in five to ten years? What do you see in five to ten years on the topic of man and digitization? Where do you see us?

Digitization will change us completely; it will change all of society. We will work differently, live differently, much more decentralized. Everyone will be able to contribute to society differently and live their lives differently, more intensely – how can I put it – not so linear, more in parallel. More will happen. But in the end, it's important for people to remain the focus.

I can agree with that. In conclusion: digital responsibility. What does that mean to you in your everyday work? How do you deal with it and and put it into practice – at work and at home with your children?

Well, the important thing is that everyone maintains control and authority over the data that digitization generates. I believe that's the core issue for the future. For example, the responsibility that we have, and that you have, as a company.

We have to give our customers the possibility – yes, that's the key point – to maintain this authority and that's what I tell my kids and what I try to have in my personal life. I don't want to go so far as to say I am critical, but I am cautious about what I am doing, and what could be the results of it?

We don't know what will be done with all this data in 10, 20, or 30 years. And I believe that's where we all have a responsibility.
Each one of us bears responsibility, and the companies, society and even – let me say – the politicians bear responsibility for ensuring that everything develops properly, to make sure it doesn't all lead to disaster.

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Digital responsibility

Experts discuss about chances and risks of digitization.