Martina Hammer

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Digital X 2021: Digitization makes all the difference

  • More than 20,000 visitors, 5 stages, 100 locations
  • 300 businesses present solutions for digital transformation
Hagen Rickmann und Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Digital X 2021 - Hagen Rickmann und Arnold Schwarzenegger are in one mind: Digitization makes all the difference.

Four Cologne neighborhoods, five stages, more than 100 locations, around 2 million square meters of digitization: Digital X 2021 inspired more than 20,000 participants of the world exhibition of digitization. 300 VIP international speakers - including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Prof. Dr. Sabina Jeschke, Ranga Yogeshwar, Timotheus Höttges, or Prof. Dr. Julian Nida-Rümelin - discussed the digital transformation and sustainability of the economy and society on September 7 and 8. Around 300 startups and companies presented their digital solutions: from autonomously driving city shuttles to a solar solution for charging e-cars in the Internet of Things (IoT) and a 3D scanner for creating avatars.

Four areas for more digital economy

In his Digital X speech, Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, took a look at the current digitization situation in Germany and Europe. Regarding digitization, he said, Europe is not globally competitive and is highly dependent on an ecosystem outside Europe. Höttges sees four areas in which Germany and Europe need to invest massively in the coming years in order to advance the digital economy. These include the promotion of digital components. Second, providing the framework conditions for building the necessary digital infrastructure. Third, creating scalable European digital platforms and fourth, developing digital applications. "Deutsche Telekom itself is a digital companion. We invest in the best networks like no other company. And as the international voice of digitization, we develop partnerships with innovative companies worldwide that benefit our customers," said Tim Höttges.

In his speech, former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger took a look at his career from bodybuilder and Mister Universe to actor and founder of a climate initiative. As governor, he has enforced the strictest environmental laws in the US. He is convinced that "digital technology can significantly advance sustainable business."

Hagen Rickmann: "Everyone wants to invest in digitization"

Hagen Rickmann, patron of Europe's largest digital initiative and Managing Director Business Customers at Telekom Deutschland GmbH, was optimistic about the current digitization debate. "Digitization makes all the difference and companies have recognized that. When I talk to owners of medium-sized businesses at the moment, I see that they all want to invest in digitization and transform themselves digitally. The younger generation of entrepreneurs in particular is driving digitization." Although the pandemic has triggered a digitization turbo, Deutsche Telekom's digitization index shows that "there is still room for improvement. The index is only rising moderately. In every industry, we show companies applications that enable them to implement digital solutions quickly and easily for a whole range of business processes."

Telekom helps to unlock funding

One signal of the still low level of digitization knowledge, he said, is the low funding rate regarding the German government's 130-billion-euro economic stimulus program with 50 billion euros of this being earmarked for the digitization of the German economy. "After approximately one and a half years, only 15 percent has been drawn down from the funding program. Deutsche Telekom supports small and medium-sized enterprises in gaining better access to the funding. Although it has only been active for a short time, we already get up to 300 calls a week," says Hagen Rickmann.

Amateur sports live and digital education

At Digital X, Hagen Rickmann also presented two new collaborations. Together with Sporttotal, Deutsche Telekom is now bringing amateur sports live to the web. Via DT's 5G network, fully automated cameras broadcast matches as a live stream on the Internet. Deutsche Telekom is also cooperating with Apple for more digital education and, as an Apple Authorized Education Specialist, DT is now the only certified network provider for Apple Education in Germany.

Digital X as a shop window for innovations

Telekom's TechBoost startup initiative shows that there are numerous digital innovators in Germany. At Digital X, Doob, among others, presented a 3D scanner that can be used to create digital twins of people. Companies can use such avatars for marketing, training or customer support, for example. Companies are also increasingly opting to use avatars for virtual reality applications. The start-up 4Tiito sees the future of computer control in eye tracking based on artificial intelligence (AI). The solution can reduce the use of computer mice and improve ergonomic work.

Digital Champions Awards 2021

For the sixth time, the Digital Champions were once again selected in four categories at Digital X. The pioneers of digitization show how they use digital solutions to guide their companies through economically uncertain and volatile times. The winners are the commercial law firm Noerr, the family-owned company and world market leader for skylight systems LAMILUX, the coating specialist J. Wagner and the cosmetics manufacturer Schwan Cosmetics International. A special regional champion award was given to HAILO-Werk Rudolf Loh, manufacturer of ladders and waste garbage cans for households and businesses.

Photos from the Digital X 2021 can be found at Images Digital X.

Digital X is Europe's largest cross-industry digitization initiative. More than 300 national and international partners are involved. The concept: network, exchange and learn from each other in the spirit of digital progress. Further details on the digitization initiative can be found here and at

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