What should I learn before I start bigdata

Data is the new oil. And Germany is rich in this raw material that fuels digital transformation and growth. But the associated opportunities are still not being used enough. Top experts from business and science reveal how to properly raise the treasure trove of data and create added value.

Data hunters and data collectors

A treasure is generally something as rare as gold or oil. However, the opposite is the case with data treasure. There is a ton of data. Every person produces 1.7 megabytes per second, says Alexander Röckle, Head of Platform & Technologies - Automotive and Manufacturing at SAP, during the DUB Digital Week on the topic of “Looking through the data jungle. Step by step, your company will become more digital ”.

These speakers spoke about Big Data & Business Intelligence at DUB DIGITAL WEEK:

  • Dr. Ralf Belusa, Managing Director Digital Business & Transformation, Hapag-Lloyd AG
  • Jan Dzulko, CEO & founder everphone GmbH
  • Oliver Burgdorf, Vice President Germany, New Mobile Business and Digitalization Corporate Customers, Telekom
  • Alexander Röckle, Head of Platform & Technologies, Automotive & Manufacturing SAP Deutschland SE & Co. KG
  • Nils Britze, Head of Digital Business Processes, Bitkom e.V.
  • Ulrich Lichtenthaler, Prof. for Management and Entrepreneurship at the International School of Management in Cologne
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel, Director, Hasso Plattner Institute
  • Achim Krombach, Solutions Architect, Lumen Technologies
  • Thomas Obitz, Alliance Sales Executive DACH, Stibo Systems
  • Marc Roulet, Director Business Analytics, XING
  • Stephan Heron, Enterprise Account Executive, Mendix
  • Stefanos Katsios, Head of Big Data / Analytics, SVA System Vertrieb Alexander GmbH
  • Ingo Lalla, Vice President Sales DACH, Myra Security GmbH
  • Franz Winterauer, VP IoT Data Services, Siemens Advanta

An IDC study shows that the global amount of data will grow to 60 zettabytes by the end of 2020. By 2025 it should be 200 zettabytes. And there is no end in sight to this development. No wonder, because not only machine sensors, but each and every one of us diligently continues to take care of this flood of data. On Netflix, for example, 97,000 hours of videos are watched per minute and 1.5 million songs are heard on Spotify. In just 60 seconds, 195 million e-mails are sent, 800,000 files are loaded into the Dropbox and 120 new LinkedIn accounts are set up.

Successful data hunters and collectors are young, often international companies such as Netflix and Co. They have one thing in common: data is a central component of their business model. And that makes them correspondingly popular. Microsoft, for example, bought LinkedIn for $ 26 billion. At that time, the network had around 430 million users and had previously switched to e-learning - another tempting data business for Microsoft.

According to SAP expert Röckle, three factors determine the value of data: quantity, usage and quality. The amount of data has evidently reached gigantic proportions. The quality can only keep up to a certain extent. For example, some data cannot be assigned, for example because customer information is not linked to the customer name. And the use of the data? That is small. Only 0.5 percent of the data is used.

A waste. Because: Fundamentally, their use has the potential not only for new, but also for existing companies. Professor Ulrich Lichtenthaler, who teaches management and entrepreneurship at the International School of Management in Cologne, says: “When we look to the future, we have to focus on data. But not just in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality. It is important to always be up to date and to constantly flirt with new technologies. ”Chatbots, for example, may have been revolutionary in the past, but now almost everyone has to have this technology.

Using data means preventing disruption

Ralf Belusa, Managing Director Digital Business & Transformation at Hapag-Lloyd, adds with a view to practice: “You always have to collect data and build up in-depth knowledge in order, for example, to approach the perfect customer journey. In our case, many today do not know how long it takes a customer to buy or book. But that is essential and must be made transparent, otherwise the competition will run away. "

Or because there is even a danger on a larger scale. “You basically have to ask yourself: Am I prepared for the future with my business model, or are there even developments in the industry that have disruptive potential? This is especially true if, as is the case now in Corona times, the framework conditions change. When the future perspective is questionable, data must be collected and analyzed in order to build new digital models accordingly. And then you have to have the courage to try something, ”says Stefanos Katsios, Head of the Data and Analytics division at SVA, one of Germany's leading system integrators in the field of data center infrastructure.

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“At least we are now aware of this,” adds Thomas Obitz, Alliance Sales Executive DACH at the software house Stibo Systems, which specializes in master data management. “Most companies know that they are sitting on a treasure trove of data. Only this data has to be processed. ”But: Non-data is also important information; bad data, for example, says something about how the topic is dealt with.

Dealing with the topic of data in the company is simply not given high enough priority. "Digitization is not a matter for the IT department. it must be lived in all areas of a company ", states Belusa.

"Because digital business models are mostly based on data that either already exists or is outside the company, we need ways to better evaluate and use it," says Katsios, summarizing the challenge not only for medium-sized companies.

Nils Britze, Head of Digital Business Processes at the Bitkom digital association, suggests approaching this step by step: "Digital business processes are the foundation for being able to generate data at all, on the basis of which innovative ideas can then be developed."

Process optimization and innovation go hand in hand. Those who have their data under control can develop new business models. For example, if you know your customers exactly thanks to the data, you may know that they not only want to buy their machines, but also increasingly want to rent them. So data can save or expand the business model.

How to ignite the data turbo

But how can medium-sized companies specifically ignite the data turbo? The answer is: just do it. “You don't need a huge budget,” says Belusa. Sometimes it is enough to turn a few small screws to make a big difference. "It sounds like a Herculean task, but every entrepreneur can start with comparatively simple steps," says Achim Krombach, Solution Architect at Lumen Technologies. Katsios adds: “It's not about multi-million dollar projects, but rather smaller issues that may not work at one point or another. But if they do it, if they bring small successes, I as an entrepreneur can continue on the path of digitization. "

"More train to the gate" is the name of Franz Winterauer, Vice President IoT Data Services at Siemens Advanta, a new unit that advises customers on transformation processes. The claim: There must be a noticeable added value in digitization projects. It is therefore important to work in a use-case-driven manner.

According to the Digital Week experts, many digitization projects have failed in the past because they were too technological and not driven out of a real application. It is also important to stay tuned. The main reason for the failure of data usage and digitization projects is often the lack of staying power.

The main task must be "To advance the digital transformation from the core business" and not that "To try it out on a project that is completely detached from the main business", so Belusa. Use-case-based work is becoming more and more sensible. "So set a specific challenge as the goal, do not remain vague", says Marc Roulet, Director Business Analytics at the XING business network.

Data-driven digitization is one thing, automation another. According to Krombach from Lumen Technologies, both have to go hand in hand. Hapag-Lloyd-CDO Belusa sees it that way too.

“Many companies still have to wake up to automation. In this area there is easily two to three percent company growth that is simply given away ", reports Belusa. He cites e-mail traffic or addressing customers in general as examples.

Digital evolution or revolution?

But how can a technological leap succeed if it is not supposed to be gradual improvements? Jan Dzulko, founder and CEO of everphone, which offers a full service for company telephones, points to a seemingly simple possibility: In the long term, the smartphone will replace the laptop. Dzulko sees this development "especially in industries that are still under-digitized - such as in hospitals or nursing services". So it is possible to skip a stage of development.

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"With the right apps on the smartphone it is much easier to manage HR issues than with a laptop, such as time recording or sick leave, expense reports, organize vehicle fleet management, set up two-factor authentication for security areas or pay for canteen meals." He is certain that company cell phones will be a productivity device in the future.

Lichtenthaler puts the topic in a larger context:Digitization is definitely more than automation.And it not only offers great opportunities for greater efficiency, but also for real innovation. If you take a closer look at the consequences of the first lockdown, which many believe gave us a big boost to digitization, it turns out that the use of video conferences and home offices has nothing to do with digitization at its core. Both, as well as the fiber optic expansion, are ultimately only provided by the infrastructure. This is important. But companies should rather ask themselves what the future viability of their strategy and business models is like. Automation questions are easier to solve there. "

He also warns:Continuously digitizing processes is generally good and certainly correct. However, this also harbors the risk that if radical changes take hold in the industry - for example, if a service is suddenly offered 'as a service' or a platform model is established - parts of the company's own business model suddenly collapse. "
Accordingly, the digitization experts put the strategy ahead of practice: "Whether customer data, employee data or even sensor data from machines: the overall strategy should always be kept in mind," demands SAP man Röckle. “A data strategy brings individual elements together to form a whole,” adds Roulet from XING. Often, however, this is missing. A mistake.

Every company needs a data strategy. If this is tackled, it must have a holistic approach and must not only relate to individual projects. What is needed is some kind of superordinate data purpose.

If large amounts of information are available, we speak of big data. “Big data can help to predict things before they happen,” says Winterauer from Siemens Advanta. But before large amounts of data can be analyzed and used in a meaningful way, they must first be brought together. “Big data often includes unstructured amounts of data,” says Obitz from Stibo Systems. If these are brought together sensibly, data can also be used efficiently.

The biggest hurdle here: the still widespread data silos, according to the Siemens Advanta expert.

Dissolving data silos and linking information from different areas with one another offers enormous potential. But that is also a major challenge that affects both the corporate culture and the interfaces.

Katsios makes the latter clear once again by providing a glimpse into the practice of his company: “In order to be able to build applications, I have to integrate data. Therefore, interfaces are always a central issue - whether in companies or across company boundaries. If I look at a typical medium-sized company today, it may have 40 to 50 systems in use that hide important data for business processes. The project of generating a consolidated data view from this sometimes takes a few years. It takes a 'point of truth' to develop a new business model on this basis. That is always a hardware and a software infrastructure issue. Interfaces have to be built. "

Think cybersecurity too

However, one central topic must not be ignored in the just-try-it-out approach: data security. Ingo Lalla is Vice President Sales in the DACH region at Myra Security. The German provider romps in a market dominated by US and Israeli companies. “Five years ago, cyberattacks were the fourth largest threat to companies. They are now perceived as the greatest threat parameter in companies - especially when it comes to business interruptions and data leaks. But many medium-sized companies do not see themselves affected by this. That is a very big fallacy. Whether a company is prominent or not has absolutely nothing to do with the threat landscape. It can affect everyone and it will affect many, ”said the IT security technology expert.

Data security should be the focus right from the start. For this, attention must be drawn to the topic of cybersecurity not only in new, but also in existing areas in the company.

“Some companies are able to think about this aspect right from the start, but overall there is often still a big gap - especially in development. That must and will change. We need Security by Design, and we don't need it flanged in at some point later, ”says Lalla. Of course, security is not an end in itself. The expert's realistic assessment: "There has to be a healthy relationship between innovation, performance and security."

Professor Christoph Meinel, Director of the Hasso Plattner Institute, adds: “It is important to question the content of your own data. Is it data that can be harmful if third parties gain access to it? Then it could become problematic. We have already experienced this in various cyberattacks. The next question is: should a separate computer or an external cloud be used for data storage? There are now many open clouds that are free. But providing the infrastructure is expensive for providers. Therefore, companies have to consider paying with data instead of money. "

Overall, Germany has some catching up to do, says Roulet. Countries like the USA and China with their data-driven tech giants, especially in the B2C sector, are already well advanced. But the chances are still there. The much-scolded GDPR is such, because "it stands for a certain data ethics, the serious handling of data".

The experts at DUB Digital Week agree: The GDPR is definitely a kind of “Made in Europe” seal of approval and should be used accordingly.

Learn from the best digitizers

But what is the status quo of data-driven digitization in this country? In regulated industries, such as energy suppliers, the urge for digital transformation is very great, ”says Stephan Reiher, Enterprise Account Executive at the Siemens subsidiary Mendix.

Britze refers to the study in which the Bitkom association recently examined the status quo of the digital office - i.e. the spread of digital strategies, mobile work devices and digital administration in medium-sized companies. The financial services industry has shown itself to be particularly progressive here. “The pioneers in this country are larger companies. You can see the trend: the larger the company, the greater the degree of maturity of digitization. "

But of course there are also successful examples from medium-sized companies. Lichtenthaler cites the photo service provider CEWE as an example of a successful change. The topic of transformation was addressed there before the buzzword digitization was on everyone's lips. “The medium-sized company succeeded early on in adapting its business model to new technologies and customer needs. The development from the darkroom to digital printing has not only prevented disruption from overwhelming the company, but has also opened up future prospects. "

Reiher has a basic piece of advice ready: Medium-sized companies should tackle the topic of digital transformation by learning from the experiences of others.

"It makes sense to take a very close look at models that are similar to the industry," says Reiher. He sees his employer Mendix in the role of bringing others together.

The low-hanging fruits of digitization

And how do you look to the future? What perspective does Germany have? Britze once again cites the results of the Bitkom study: Even with the strategy of generating added value through digitization, one in this country ranks well below the international standard, even though "a digitization boost in the course of the corona pandemic is demonstrable". Reasons for the reluctance are, for example, legal barriers to access to data, a lack of capacities and a high investment requirement. It is "relatively easy to harvest the deep-hanging fruits of digitization," said Britze. For example, in the optimization of business processes, which is also possible without high investments.

When asked "Revolution or Evolution?" In the context of digital change, he is sure that both must be possible. His hope is that in the end the adaptability of medium-sized companies is fundamentally higher than that of the very large companies with their longer decision-making paths. Britze's appeal to entrepreneurs: "Seize the opportunities and deal with the digitization of business processes."

HPI boss Meinel advocates more openness to open source applications: “Open source means that you don't have to pay license fees and you don't have to rely on individual providers to use certain software. The code is open and I can look for an IT service provider who adds additional functions. "

Reiher, who with Mendix wants to support companies in developing software faster and easier, sees the shortage of skilled workers as one of the main obstacles to digitization. The IT departments are often overloaded, so that there is often no room for innovation topics. “That is why our approach is to involve the specialists who are already there anyway. In other words, the employees who can perhaps build high-end Excel spreadsheets, but are not programmers. We use low code to enable them to develop simple applications themselves or to communicate with the IT department at the right interface. This makes it possible to bring innovations that seem simple at first sight onto the market and to test them there. "

Oliver Burgdorf is Vice President Germany for New Mobile Business and Digitalization at Deutsche Telekom's corporate customers. He, too, basically regards the development of digital solutions in Germany as "a little lame". Other countries are much further ahead - in Asia, sometimes even in Africa. “Of course, the crisis gave a boost. We have seen an enormous increase in mobile devices in the industry - recently companies have also increasingly digitized themselves by using targeted apps. "

Britze adds: “In recent years we have also seen that small and medium-sized companies in particular have often been highly innovative in order to replace or supplement the elimination of traditional sales channels with digital offers. This is also reflected in the websites, which now offer much more customer interaction. "

Lichtenthaler also recalls the strengths in the country: “Our medium-sized companies can approach the transformation with optimism, because their business models are often based on a history of innovations. Anyone who has successfully completed several automation rounds in the last few decades is certainly well armed. Therefore, one should simply approach the topic with healthy optimism and on the basis of specific projects and not put forward any reasons why this is not possible. "

The right people to take this path are there, according to Britze. "We just have to motivate them properly and take them with us on the journey." And Lalla adds: "We have to empower people and create awareness - also for the topic of data security."

So there is definitely hope with a view to the data-driven transformation. Dzulko confirms: "Due to the corona pandemic, Germany was digitized faster than in the previous ten years." Burgdorf's appeal is therefore representative of the statements made by all experts at DUB Digital Week:

"We just need more courage to embrace digital change in Germany."