Adel Al-Saleh


Data turnaround: international dataspaces for the world

The initiatives for international dataspaces are spreading in more and more industries - Gaia-X, Catena-X, Manufacturing-X. Adel Al-Saleh is convinced that 2023 will be the year of dataspaces. Read more about this in his Management Unplugged.

International date spaces are the future of data exchange.

International date spaces are the future of data exchange. © Deutsche Telekom

It was announced at the German federal government's Digital Summit last December: Minister of Economics Robert Habeck and Minister of Transport and Digital Affairs Volker Wissing want to focus on one topic from now on: Data, data and data. Because using it wisely is the key to innovation and sustainable growth – the Minister for Digital Affairs said in the accompanying press release. 

This focus does not come as a surprise. After all, the phrase that “data is the new oil” appeared in the Economist as early as 2017. Nevertheless, data is a complex field with many variables to consider. Until now, data has been accumulated in large data lakes. The task now is to prepare a way to industrialize and trade this data. The central issue remains that data owners do not want to share their data for free.  Corporate data altruism is – understandably – a long way off in the business world. So what can be done to enable the fair and secure exchange of data? Transparency along the entire supply chain also plays a significant role. On the one hand, it helps to eliminate inefficiencies, and on the other hand, it helps to comply with new legal guidelines and regulations such as the supply chain due diligence Act or the EU taxonomy. But how do companies get data from suppliers, for example? The solution to build this up according to European standards and to continue to guarantee data sovereignty lies in international dataspaces. 

Peer-to-peer for secure data exchange

Peer-to-peer for secure data exchange.

Peer-to-peer for secure data exchange. © Deutsche Telekom

A dataspace is a virtual environment that allows parties to exchange and access data securely. Just as a marketplace provides a platform for different sellers and buyers, a dataspace provides a platform for different organizations to share data and collaborate more efficiently. It is the standard format for data exchange. For example, if a company needs information about a certain product from a supplier, it can do so quickly and easily via dataspaces. Where exactly the data for this is located is secondary. 

Peer-to-peer is the keyword for dataspaces. The owner of the data can grant access rights such as "read", "edit" and "copy". This can be adjusted for certain users and certain types of use – i.e. the intended purpose of the data. The applications for managing requests and offering and monetizing the data are located centrally in the cloud. The exchange takes place directly between partners. Here we see how digitalization once again makes intermediary trade obsolete, delivers data sovereignty. 

Two examples

  • Catena-X – the automotive industry leads the way 
    One of the Gaia-X lighthouse projects is Catena-X. The data ecosystem for the automotive industry aims to simplify the exchange of data between car manufacturers and suppliers according to the principles of International dataspaces. Catena-X is based on the standards of Gaia-X and the International Data Spaces Association (IDSA). As soon as the Catena-X network is live, T-Systems can confirm the identity of new participants. And manage data connections. 
  • And up next: Manufacturing-X 
    The Platform Industry 4.0 initiative has set itself the goal of connecting international dataspaces in various industrial fields. Manufacturing-X focuses on mechanical and plant engineering, in the broadest sense of the manufacturing industry.

So the course has been set and the first initiatives have been launched. Now it is up to business and politics to cooperate, seize the opportunity and take responsibility for the secure and fair exchange of data. According to the paper on the digital summit, however, use cases and concrete projects are still far too rare in Germany. But that should and will change now: 2023 will be the year of the data turnaround –  in which data theory is transformed into reality. Of that I am convinced.

Adel Al-Saleh

Adel Al-Saleh

Member of the Board of Management Deutsche Telekom AG for T-Systems