I recently arrived from New York after a long journey and was surprised how far the digitalization in the USA has evolved compared to Germany. A nice example can be found at one of the international airports of New York (EWR). I noticed that in the USA self-service really matters. There is hardly any service personnel left at the checkout, you scan the products yourself and usually pay by credit card or at the cash machine. You can order with tablets that have been placed at almost every table. Banner advertising also makes it clear where artificial intelligence is currently being used.
In American schools, it has become common for parents to be able to view their children’s grades at any time via an app. It is said that Asians tend to copy concepts from the western world. I’m afraid that Europe, especially Germany, tends to copy digital concepts from the USA. There are enough examples of this, starting with social networks through to e-commerce models. In Silicon Valley, people also talk about German copycats. The best example of the German „digital success“ is Rocket Internet and the Samwer brothers at the forefront.
Where’s all this heading? Are we on the threshold of one of the highly praised German inventor nations? And yet most of the new patent applications originate from medium-sized German companies. But the future of digitization is determined not by patents, but by start-ups. Unfortunately, I have to say on the basis of my own experience that Germany does not play a major role in digitization. The largest Internet companies come from the USA, with Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. leading the way.
In New York, I noticed many posters for AI products that are already in use.
In my opinion, Germany has the following problem: Too many consultants, too few makers. There is much talking, even less action. The politics and start-up scene in this country is firing up supposedly innovative companies and often blinds itself. Education and a basic understanding of digital concepts are barely present in the population. It already starts with the most popular terms “ digitalization „, “ Big Data “ and recently also “ AI „. These terms are used for almost everything that has to do with innovative digital concepts.
I had achieved more business in the 5 weeks of my USA trip than in the last 5 years in Germany. Why? Unfortunately, German investors and decision makers from many companies often seem helpless when it comes to understanding digital concepts. They only tend to follow the press and current trends which are hotly discussed.
In the USA it’s about making life easier, not more complicated with tools.
Is there a way out of this „German“ dilemma? In my opinion, it will be difficult, because why should people here in Germany admit that they do make mistakes? This time not only the inventive talent plays an important role, but the society as a whole. A change is tough and uncertain. A country can only master digital change by joining forces. The German government must create an ecosystem for start-ups that can’t sustain themselves on their own but pursue interesting concepts. You have to stop tearing ideas apart verbally and get more involved with the concepts. Anything else would only be a distraction from one’s own ignorance. This will be paid dearly if a collective rethinking does not take place in time.
The future in Germany belongs to the lateral thinkers, not to the business administration university graduates
As a company founder, it wasn’t always easy for me. Especially with my Asian origins, I don’t feel recognized here. You always have to justify yourself and present evidence. That’s what my team and I have accomplished. Within three years we have developed and successfully launched a highly complex analysis software in the cloud without financial investments.
Many companies have already failed here. Our startup is the proof that money alone can’t make a difference. It is about the vision and the belief to change the world.