Digitalization: not yet at peak performance

Mountain climbers dream of reaching storied peaks – the famed “seven summits” – to truly join the ranks of world-class athletes. Digitalization in Germany has already reached the ninth summit – the ninth “IT summit,” that is. Unfortunately, it definitely hasn’t reached peak performance quite yet.

 

Soap-box speeches aren’t helping

Even before the 9th national IT Summit, it was clear that other national teams had passed Germany up long ago. A study by the Federal Ministry of Economics discovered how little soap-box speeches help when action is what’s needed. Although one often hears how well digitalization is taking hold here at home, domestic realities haven’t yet lived up to the hype. On the contrary: Germany is only in the middle of the pack in a comparison of ten of the world’s leading digital economies. It even slipped down from fifth to sixth place, while China is preparing to rise in the rankings.

 

Plenty of buzzwords, but is it all hot air?

Buzzwords are common in discussing ongoing digital issues: Big data, Industry 4.0, Internet of Things, and so on and so on. Goals are announced, and projects presented. But whether Germany is gaining altitude isn’t clear from this high-flying talk. Many measures in the Digital Agenda, announced with grandiosity in 2014, seem to have simply petered out, and urgently need a push if we still want to reach its ambitious goals. When it comes to high-speed internet, for example, with an average available download rate of 10.7 MB, Germany ranks fairly low at 24th place, behind South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and Sweden. If we’re not careful, we might find ourselves gasping for breath.

 

When will deeds follow words?

And so, of course, we’re happy to hear high-ranking politicians and economic figures signed a declaration at the summit with the goal of making encrypted private communication a standard, creating more user-friendliness, and providing faster internet. But we don’t think anyone would call us pessimists or naysayers for simply asking: sounds great, but when?