Stefan König

DIGITAL X in Cologne for a second time: Digital adrenaline for medium-sized businesses

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  • 10,000 decision-makers per day, one topic: digitisation
  • Top speakers call for digital sovereignty in Europe
  • DIGITAL X 2020 in Cologne on November 19 and 20
In conversation with Sir Richard Branson: Tim Höttges volunteers for a flight into space.

In conversation with Sir Richard Branson: Tim Höttges volunteers for a flight into space.

A complete success for digitization: DIGITAL X 2019 networked over 10,000 participants per day yesterday and today in the Cologne exhibition halls. More than 160 top international speakers inspired the audience at this year's DIGITAL X on 29 and 30 October. More than 200 companies presented new technologies and announced strategic cooperations. Europe's largest digital initiative for business customers will continue in 2020 for its third year: in six German regions and for the final event in Cologne in November 2020.

“The demand for exchange and mutual learning continues unabated,” explains Hagen Rickmann, Managing Director of the business-customer division at Deutsche Telekom. The patron of Europe's largest digital initiative summarizes: “In the last two days, DIGITAL X 2019 has networked thousands of decision-makers from diverse backgrounds. Those in attendance represented start-ups, SMEs, large corporations, and the fields of politics and science. We will continue this dialogue next year, meeting in Berlin, Bochum, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Munich. The grand finale will take place in Cologne on November 19 and 20, 2020.”

Prominent digitizers visit Cologne

Several top speakers spoke about their vision of a digital Europe. In his keynote speech, Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, called for more commitment to a strong Europe: “We must improve the conditions for investment. This includes a labor market policy that promotes SMEs. Europe also needs companies that can keep pace with the tech giants from America and Asia.” In addition, the Telekom CEO emphasized the importance of digital sovereignty in Europe. “I expressly support a shared European cloud infrastructure.” This was a reference to the German government's Gaia X cloud initiative.

Sir Richard Branson was a crowd-puller in the evening. In an interview with Tim Höttges, the entrepreneur gave the visitors a detailed insight into the activities of the Virgin Group. Branson started the group in 1970 with the music label Virgin Records. He now operates numerous entertainment, travel companies space flights under the brand. Sustainability plays a crucial role in all of this. “We're focusing on fighting climate change,” said the 69-year-old. But protecting the climate must not stop companies. Rather, it must lead to the development of climate-friendly technologies. His appeal: “We must transform the world into a clean world as quickly as possible”. In response to Tim Höttges' final question: “what is your advice for managers and your recipe for success?”, Branson replied: “seek the best in everyone. Be friendly to everyone. Work hand in hand, not against each other.”

The World Wide Web is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. Sir Tim Berners-Lee also took part in Digital X to mark the anniversary. Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. He thus laid the foundation for a technology that has changed life around the world like no other. Around half of the world’s population is now online. This change has brought new challenges: “Trust in internet sources is declining. Because of manipulation, fake news and bots.” Another area to work on is data protection. “We have to give people back control over their data,” he says. Berners-Lee explained this and provided a possible solution at the same time: his current research project “Solid”. It aims to improve the privacy of internet users and protect their data.

Digital X as the window for innovations

Lightyear, a company based in the Netherlands, is committed to solar energy for the mobility of the future. At DIGITAL X, it is presenting its solar electric car.

At Biohax, digitization gets under the skin. Specifically, with an NFC chip between thumb and index finger. Visitors* queued up for the implant. The new cyborgs use it to open doors, pay, or display a digital business card.

Partnerships and products

Volocopter, the inventors of the flying taxi, and Deutsche Telekom are working together on digitization in the field of flight mobility. The focus is on artificial intelligence, including face recognition. This facilitates access control and check-in.

T-Systems presents a new platform for blockchain networks: "German Blockchain Ecosystem" is the first blockchain-as-a-service marketplace in Europe. The first partner will be Malta Enterprise. T-Systems and Malta Enterprise announced their cooperation today.

Deutsche Telekom launched "Apple at Work" at DIGITAL X. The service helps companies deploy and manage Apple products.

Campus networks for SMEs: At DIGITAL X, Deutsche Telekom announced two new campus network offerings for companies. Campus M for SMEs and Campus L for large customers.

DIGITAL X 2019 in figures

On October 29 and 30, 2019, an area of around 20,000 square meters was networked together under the banner of digitization. Over 200 lectures were given by 120 renowned speakers from all over the world. 340 people worked before, during and after DIGITAL X on the Koelnmesse exhibition grounds. They will have worked a total of around 30,000 hours in a three-shift operation.

DIGITAL X is Europe's largest cross-industry digitization initiative. More than 200 national and international partners are involved in it. It toured six German regions in spring 2019. The grand finale of DIGITAL X will take place on 29 and 30 October 2019 in Cologne. The concept: networking, exchanging information and learning from each other for the good of digital progress. The best companies will receive the "Digital Champions Award". DIGITAL X 2020 will take place in Cologne on 19 and 20 November. Further details on the digitization initiative can be found here and at

About Deutsche Telekom: Company profile
About T-Systems: T-Systems company profile
About Digital X

Digital X

Digital X

All about Europe’s leading digitization initiative.