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The first secureexchange fachtagung premiered in Offenbach near Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Under the banner of “How to safely bring SMEs and IoT together”, maincubes one GmbH and partners invited industry experts to discuss the opportunities and challenges offered by the Internet of Things (IoT) at the first iteration of a new practice-focused series of events aimed specifically at SMEs. At the end of the event, the participants agreed that successful and sustainable digitalization is only possible when it is focused on people.
How can Germany catch up when it comes to digitalization? And how can German SMEs defend their global top position? These are questions for which some first clear answers were developed during the secureexchange fachtagung. Accordingly, Dr. Jens J. Gerber, Member of the Board at maincubes, highlighted the considerable potential for the B2B sector in his opening speech. To realize this potential, eco-systems, and therefore digital marketplaces in the form of easy-to-use, integrative, and secure platforms, are necessary.
In his keynote, Prof. Dr. Thomas Bauernhansl of the Fraunhofer-Institut emphasized the fact that in the process of digitalization, existing product architectures will experience fundamental changes. Consequently, platforms would enable entirely new automation architectures in order to create an operating system for almost completely autonomous systems. Meanwhile, Christoph Keese, bestseller author and CEO of the digital consulting company Axel Springer hy GmbH, gave an insider’s view of the Silicon Valley’s recipes for success. Examples such as Google, Uber, Facebook and others clearly show how platforms have managed to disrupt entire sectors and business models and how they have helped generate impressive output with comparatively little capital. According to Keese, German SMEs need to undergo a process of self-disruption in order to keep up with the competition.
The topic of security did not come up short at the event. With a performance that was both funny and shocking, comedy hacker Tobias Schrödel demonstrated how hackers can easily exploit gaps in security. Using a Bluetooth-operated, talking teddy bear as an example, he underlined the importance of a security concept that is thought through from the very beginning, instead of just tacked on at the end.
Roadmap for SMEs drawn up during interactive barcamp sessions
The strategies, with which SMEs can put the presented theses into practice, were developed by the
participants themselves during the event. In four barcamp sessions on the topics of secure mobility, digital factory, smart city, and secure payment, they created guidelines for both employees and decision-makers on the way towards digitalization. For example, the team of the secure mobility barcamp concluded that a clearly defined, regulatory framework is essential for mobile communication solutions. In addition, start-ups should be supported and connected better, both with partners and customers. SMEs too, need to move away from silo mentality and towards value-adding co-operations to facilitate digital business models. To that end, sharing flagship projects can be useful. Participants of the digital factory barcamps added that business models need to be as easy and transparent as possible, so that all those involved are able to easily understand them. In that context, simulations help to identify and fix errors early on. For that, the focus needs to be on people.
The success of all four sessions confirmed that there is great interest in discussing these topics. The general consensus of the participants was that the sessions allowed for an open and active exchange of ideas, and that in addition to an opportunity for networking, they were also the beginning of an actual digitalization community; even after the event officially ended, visitors continued their discussions. The barcamp sessions were a great success and sent a positive signal to practice-oriented professionals, who wish to constructively engage with the topic of digitalization.
Partners complement the event
The high-profile partners of the secureeexchange fachtagung presented their own, in-house solutions during the event, proving that Germany “can do digital” after all. For the attending SMEs, this provided a good opportunity for both networking and in-depth discussions. “With the secureexchange fachtagung we want to establish an event, which serves as a forum for practice-oriented visitors, allowing them to facilitate comprehensive transfer of know-how, and which supports driving the digitalization of German SMEs”, says Dr. Jens J. Gerber, “The first iteration of the event satisfied all of our expectations and we are happy about the thoroughly positive feedback we received from all participants. We are already looking forward to the second iteration next year.”
maincubes continues to focus on the topics of IoT, security and connected business models, even after the secureexchange fachtagung: On behalf of the Frankfurt-based data center operator, analysts at Crisp Research are conducting a survey among SMEs until early October. The survey examines the importance of location, connectivity and security for successful IoT operational concepts. Additionally, maincubes supports another study by GEFITS, the German Society for Intelligent Technical Systems, which tries to answer the question of how businesses can manage to securely connect their own devices and systems to the Internet of Things. The findings of the study are to be released soon.