The Federation of German Industries (BDI) warns of the consequences of the dramatic delay in expanding the country’s digital networks: “We urgently need to push ahead with digitisation if we do not want Germany to fall behind,” said BDI President Ulrich Grillo on Monday at the opening of CeBIT in Hanover. Grillo urged the German federal government to inject momentum into the digitisation of industry by providing a higher-capacity broadband infrastructure.
“Industry is deeply unsatisfied by the rate of expansion of digital networks. This country is far from having a high-capacity digital infrastructure,” Grillo added. Germany is only in the middle of the pack when it comes to digitisation, lagging behind the leading industrial countries in terms of both speed and network coverage.
“Germany must prepare for the transition to the gigabit society now,” urged Grillo. “Otherwise, it risks losing its standing as an industrial location for years to come.” In the digital economy, too, infrastructure remains the backbone of innovation and competitiveness.
“We cannot stop at the target of 50 megabits by 2018. We need to prepare for tomorrow’s technologies and needs today,” said the BDI President. More than ever, he stated, Germany needs to promote flagship projects and public-private partnerships that have the appropriate programmes for developing new applications.
Grillo also urged German SMEs to press ahead with digitising their own businesses: “Our mid-sized companies should become drivers of digitisation.” The SME Panel surveys commissioned by the BDI reveal that only three out of ten industrial SMEs have already made good progress with digitisation.
The BDI also sees the need for new financing channels to encourage investment in digitisation; policy-makers should enable expansion of possible investment activities. Software, for example, should be able to be written off more quickly to take account of the increased pace of innovation. Tax incentives for research have proved their worth in supporting and accelerating digitisation in many industrialised nations. Industry believes that this successful tool should finally be introduced in Germany.