Germany is too successful for digitization

Meanwhile, we have a new federal government and of course it should really go this time with digitization. We like to hear that, but we do not really believe in it anymore. Although word has spread that the future of the country depends on how well we master digitization, Germany is only changing at a snail’s pace.

I have the impression that the print is simply missing. We have almost full employment in Germany and export like the world champions. That somehow obstructs the view of the real challenges. Although it should be clear that this will not always continue, efforts in both business and politics are completely avoided. Enviously, the eyes are on France, where President Macron is driving digitization and trying to bring the country along.

Where there is water and electricity, there should be broadband

We are very much in favor of stability and consensus in Germany, but for 20 years we have been watching in amazement as digitization fundamentally changes one economic sector after another and how the coordinates of society shift. If we want to preserve the status quo, then we can no longer look at it, we have to act.

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There are more than enough topics. Of course, we need broadband broadband, from the Halligen to the Zugspitze. Wherever there is running water and electricity, there should also be broadband, it looks so easy. But I know very well that such a simple sentence immediately causes a contradiction, because that is a big investment, because not all of them need such large bandwidths at the moment, because so far this has been the case and because of everything. We see these arguments over and over again, no matter if broadband, digital education or digital state. Why should one change what works that way? You do not have that many administrative procedures, why should you digitize everything with a lot of effort just to save some time?

Because we need to be able to remain an attractive country in the future as well. This includes a fast network everywhere, but also an administration that is geared to the needs of the people and that allows you to do his authorities digitally with a few clicks and swipes. In Germany, we are really good at creating expenses that are unnecessary, but which have arisen over the decades or have never been different. As a result, we are simply no longer up-to-date in many areas and are therefore falling behind more and more, because other countries are tackling the issues of the future more quickly.

Possessionists block digitization in Germany

For example, you have to play through the idea of ​​what would happen if you could make your tax return in Germany, as in Estonia. There, the state calculates what you have to pay taxes and sends the tax return prefilled by e-mail. Most Estonians just click on “yes” and are then finished with the tax return. In Germany, we do it so that as many people as possible are involved, from the individual citizens who need to gather data, through the tax consultants to the officials in the tax authorities, who check the tax returns. If you changed that radically, there would be massive resistance. This can be played in any number of areas, of course, in health care, in municipal administration, in insurance companies, in large companies, wherever there are many clerks and clerks. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will make these jobs obsolete in the near future.

Germany can not stop this development, but we should shape it. So that we can make the transition as compatible as possible. But if we do not move, others make that transition for us. What that means, we have clearly seen in the last 20 years. The libertarian ideas of Silicon Valley are only partially compatible with our concepts of society and the social market economy.

China will invest $ 2 billion to build a giant artificial intelligence research cluster because China wants to become the global market leader there. The Chancellor is holding talks with experts because the Federal Government sees artificial intelligence as a topic of the future. But we are not any further and again Germany is watching how other countries create facts. We are just too well.

Lumma Nico
(Photo: Nico Lumma)


To the author: Nico Lumma is managing partner of start-up company next media accelerator. He belongs as a business angel, entrepreneur, author and co-founder and co-chair of the network policy association D64 to the most famous figures in the German digital scene.

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