Hamburg-News-media-it-creative-industries-innovation-future-business © Torben Conrad Photography / Jan Nemecky / Jens Kaesemann Putting tech into practice

The three-day conference was centred on tech trends and use cases. What are the strategic decisions that businesses should take now?

The future was yesterday – that was how it seemed at probably Germany’s largest pan-sectoral digital conference held from Wednesday to Friday (12-14 September). Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality, Blockchain – many innovative technologies have now reached the implementation phase in business. Themes included Urban Data, Conversational Commerce and of course a great deal of AI. A total of 500 speakers put forward their solutions for the digital future to around 5,000 participants in 400 sessions. Nevertheless: “There are many who say that the technology is available, but when it comes down to it into practice, there’s a lot of catching up to do,” Lars Schwabe, Associate Director at Lufthansa Industry Solution said in his keynote address on the topic: AI in Industry.

Practical applications and learning in focus

Reports about prototypes, applications and failure stories were followed with keen interest. The three days focussed on strategy, collaboration and technology. It was immediately evident that the digital transformation is not something for going it alone. Interaction and networking in the foyer were for many participants at least as important as the addresses and presentations in the halls. “What comes after digitalization?” was one of the many questions discussed.

“Data are the raw materials for Artificial Intelligence, so they have to be of high quality,” Schwabe notes. He adds that there is currently increased interest in the theme of Deep Learning. Whereas AI is the core discipline of Computer Science, ML – Machine Learning – is a component of AI and DL, Deep Learning, a specific form of ML. “Basically quite simple,” Schwabe says, outlining some examples from practical experience.

3D printing network in Hamburg

“Digitalization is a team sport,” was the conference’s motto. The around 270 members of Hamburg’s 3D printing network are also team players, working together to expand the network together. “No one can manage this alone; the issue is too complex for that,” network spokesman Henning Fehrmann says. “We have to establish 3D printing technology in such a way that it becomes the industry of the future in the north par excellence.” Airbus, SLM Solutions, Fraunhofer IAPT and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) are members of the network. “However, we aim to be the point of contact for small and micro businesses as well – that’s extremely important for us,” Fehrmann says.

Brave new working environment

Nimbleness and interactive working are now the aim of everyone. But what does this mean in practical terms? Someone who has to inspire their colleagues has already made a mistake – they should plan and implement jointly with them wherever possible. “We’ve got rid of all the hierarchies,” one company representative says. As much as 25 per cent of the time at work is spent on strategizing, reflection and planning – and that means all members of staff. “Some even start asking when they can go back to working on their project,” the manager says.

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