Daily Management Review

Germany is not afraid of digitalization


Germany and Japan, two leading powers in the field of automation of production and robotics, have established a "digital alliance". The agreement crowned visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Hannover, where he and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, opened CeBIT digital fair on March 19. This year its partner country is Japan.

Both leaders signed the "Hannover Declaration", which outlines the main directions of bilateral cooperation in the field of digitalization. Above all, the agreement relates to autonomous driving, artificial intelligence and big data analysis. The two leading car making countries want to give impetus to development of self-controlled vehicles, as well as speed up computerization and robot automation of industrial processes.

However, if computers and robots replace factory workers, and vehicles ride around without drivers, it will result in the loss of numerous jobs, won’t it? Germany's digital association Bitkom confidently says ‘No’.

At CeBIT, the organization presented a representative opinion poll among people aged over 14 years. The paper shows that German citizens perceive digitalization not as a threat, but as an opportunity for the economy.

In any case, 63% of respondents think so. 56% of respondents believe that digitalization will lead to an increase in Germany’s welfare. As many as 86% supported the following suggestion: "digitalization is necessary for Germany to be able to retain its strong positions in the world market in important sectors". 80% agreed with that "if enterprises resist digitalization, they will die".
"More people than ever before are employed in Germany at the moment, and this does not happen in spite of digitalization, but thanks to it," Bitcom’s CEO Thorsten Dirks said at CeBIT. The poll, he said, showed that fears of digital technology are diminishing as people directly face them.

Thus, 56% believe that digitalization will lead to loss of jobs in Germany. At the same time, only 11% fear for their own workplace. 45% believe that digitalization threatens existence of enterprises in Germany, yet only 26% are worried about fate of their own employer. Moreover, almost every second German (46%) expects that digital technologies will open new professional prospects in front of them.

Respondents were also asked whether Germany should accelerate the process of digitalizing the economy in order to preserve its competitiveness. 56% answered "Yes", and this thesis received the greatest support among young people aged 14 to 29 years. In this age group, two thirds of the respondents (65%) favor accelerated introduction of digital technologies.

Thus, the population of the country explicitly approves the German government’s policy taken to support Industry 4.0. According to another poll, submitted by Bitkom at the current CeBIT, the fourth industrial revolution is rapidly gaining popularity. Over the past three years, German IT companies almost doubled volume of services and number of developments aimed at connecting the Internet with classical industrial production.

Michael Süß, a former board member of German concern Siemens and currently head of Swiss technology company Oerlikon, is firmly convinced that not only will Industry 4.0 stop outflow of jobs from industrialized countries to China and Eastern Europe, but will also reverse this process.

source: dw.de

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