Hagen Rickmann


Digitalization: Enabler for a sustainable future

An article by Hagen Rickmann, Director Business Customers Telekom Deutschland GmbH.

German SMEs have been confronted with major challenges for several years. In view of this, companies are consistently relying on the advantages of digitalization, as recent studies have shown. This also gives them a better chance of being successful in terms of sustainability in the future. 

Hagen Rickmann, Director Business Telekom Deutschland GmbH

Hagen Rickmann, Managing Director Business Customers Telekom Deutschland GmbH.

Wait six weeks for screws and semiconductors. Convert the vehicle fleet from diesel to e-drive. Protect IT systems against cyber attacks. Searching for months for urgently needed skilled workers. The challenges that Germany's SMEs in particular are currently facing are many and varied. For many SMEs, the pandemic has become a real booster for digitalization. No digital initiatives, projects and studies have ignited on this scale - we were only really shaken up by the crisis. In addition to flexible workplaces, companies are also increasingly using digital solutions after the lockdowns to work more efficiently and further develop their business model. In doing so, they are laying the foundation for sustainable business. 

Digitalization? For sure! 

We asked companies directly about the state of digitalization. Firstly, in detail with 54 top managers of successful German SMEs, our so-called resilience champions. Secondly, as part of this year's ‘Digitalisierungsindex’ for SMEs, for which we took a close look at the status quo in terms of digitalization at 2,000 German SMEs. 
Companies have recognized that digital solutions are already a basic prerequisite for remaining economically successful and capable of acting in the long term. What I am personally particularly pleased about is that almost all of the companies surveyed for the digitalization Index will invest in digital projects in the future. Around half even want to increase their budgets for digitalization. 

Driving sustainability forward 

The companies we surveyed see a need to catch up when it comes to sustainability. For just under half of the respondents in the ‘Digitalisierungsindex’, this topic already has a high to very high priority. Here, too, digitalization offers great potential. There is no question that this also requires resources. But the advantages outweigh the disadvantages: Successful implementation not only automates processes. In addition, efficiencies are increased, and emissions reduced. This works, for example, with effective, digitally supported route planning, online meetings instead of business trips, or predictive maintenance. In the Metaverse, we could first try out digital projects virtually together with customers. I'm thinking, among other things, of manufacturing machines with the support of augmented reality. All of this reduces travel and conserves resources.

So, sustainability and digitalization go hand in hand. What can this look like in concrete terms? Two examples:

  • Digital troubleshooting saves costs, time and CO2: ZIEHL-ABEGG customers can easily monitor the operation and condition of their plants themselves via a web browser in a very environmentally friendly way - at any time, at the exact location, without having to travel.
  • Achieving climate targets with employees: EcoShift helps companies actively manage CO2 emissions and achieve the company's climate goals with an app. Companies receive an overview of their employees' mobility and a complete CO2 balance with suggestions for reducing emissions.

Political measures such as the Supply Chain Act or the EU's Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) are designed to encourage companies to become aware of and address their sustainable responsibility. Solutions such as ServiceNow or the Microsoft Sustainability Manager help with implementation.

Sustainability at Telekom 

Last but not least, we ourselves as Deutsche Telekom are trying to set a good example and take responsibility with various sustainable measures as part of #GreenMagenta. Since 2021, we have been sourcing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable sources across the Group. By 2040 at the latest, we want to be climate-neutral throughout our entire value chain. In addition, we are continuously expanding the portfolio of all business units to include sustainable tech solutions. 

Digitalization is an enabler for a sustainable future. The potential for savings is huge. Let's use digitalization to question existing processes such as supply chains and operate more efficiently. For a world in which our children and future generations can live carefree.

Hint Box
Would you like to find out more and talk to experts about digitalization? Then come to Cologne on September 13 and 14, 2022, for the Digital X - World Exhibition of Digitalization. With stages, marketplaces, brand houses and top-class speakers, it will bring the megatrends of the future to life - including mobility, sustainability and health.

Hagen Rickmann

Hagen Rickmann

Director Business Telekom Deutschland GmbH

Priorities are changing. Much of what was once a choice is now a duty.

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