Rüdiger Grube pleads for more attention to digitization and cautions business to not become embattled.
Rüdiger, thanks for your visit today at CeBIT, where we are talking about digitization. We are focusing on the question: what is digital responsibility? It is something that we have to find answers to, after all, as business leaders. Where do you see the greatest challenges in digitization as a manager?
For me, the greatest challenge is the transformation, creating awareness in the company and making sure the topic is taken seriously and really executed properly. Because for me, execution is the most important thing of all. I believe we have to manage a tremendous challenge.
Is digitization a threat for our employees, for our colleagues, or is it a huge opportunity?
If you ask me, it's a huge opportunity. But the way we treat the topic at the company, it's either perceived and understood as an opportunity or seen as a threat. And that's really our duty as management: to ensure that our employees recognize that it's such a huge opportunity. Because if we don't do it, others will. So let's be the drivers, not the driven.
We now have big data. We know that we can use data to improve the customer processes and make the information better for our customers. But many people have the understandable fear of becoming completely transparent as customers. How do you communicate with your customers where customer transparency is involved? How do you confront the fears that digitization might make things too transparent?
I think we have to dispel the customers' fears. We face them continually, of course, but we have so many technical possibilities to ensure that the data is not misused. I think that's a promise we have to make to our customers. And even more importantly: we have to keep that promise. But I'm not worried. And I have to say, it's a fear that our customers express so weakly, as long as we really don't make any mistakes, it will be an issue that we will have to manage responsibly, but one that we will definitely be able to manage.
I believe that the European General Data Protection Regulation is the first step in this direction. And I believe that we have a European identity and will be able to protect the data adequately in future. My last question, if you could keep it brief: the data we have will surely change management processes and business decisions. With artificial intelligence? Could a computer become a member of the management board at some point? Will managers become unnecessary?
No, not at all. I believe our responsibility will grow even more, because the system behind it is even more of a "black box." So we have to have an even better understanding of what's going on. As I see it, our responsibility is more likely to grow than shrink.
Thanks very much for the interview.