Cicero published: Europe at a crossroads

by JOHANNES WINTER and JOCHEN WERNE

23 August 2020

Original in German published online in the Cicero – Magazine for political education. Please click here

Translation made by DeepL.com

In the first half of digitisation, the USA and China have mercilessly left Europe behind. But nothing is lost yet: a plea for sovereign data infrastructures and a transformation to service-oriented value creation.

Europe is at a crossroads – once again. This time it is about nothing less than the preservation of the continent’s sovereignty, at least in technological and economic terms. It is therefore not surprising that “Digital Sovereignty” is a focus topic of the German EU Council Presidency. Europe’s largest economy exemplifies the current challenges in the midst of a global trade conflict and quasi-monopolies of American and Asian platform companies: because Germany’s strength as the world’s equipment supplier is under scrutiny.

Since the 1970s, the first wave of digitalization has been underway, characterized by the use of electronics and IT as well as the automation and standardization of business processes. It has been driven by exponential growth in performance parameters such as communication networks, memories and processors, which is typical for the IT industry. As a manufacturer of machines, plants, vehicles or process technology, Germany has benefited considerably from this. “Made in Germany” is a worldwide promise of quality. But for how much longer? Or to put it another way: How can we transfer this promise into the digital age?

The real and virtual worlds are merging, an Internet of things, data and services is emerging in all areas of work and life. Automated systems driven by artificial intelligence learn during operation and increasingly act autonomously, as collaborative manufacturing robots, robo-advisors or intelligent harvesters.

Europe is falling behind
Consumer platforms such as Amazon, Alibaba and Facebook have dominated the first half of digitisation. With the exception of the streaming service Spotify, Europe is hardly present in the B2C platform markets. The second half includes the industrial sector, both the digitisation and networking of production (Industry 4.0) and the expansion of products and services to include personalised, digital services (digital business models).

So far the stocktaking – what is still outstanding, however, is the comprehensive implementation, without which Europe will fall further behind in the global race. What levers are there for Europe to score points in the second half and thus maintain competitiveness and self-determination? Two aspects seem particularly important:

Without a sovereign data infrastructure
Once developed, software platforms have process costs that approach zero. This makes it easy to aggregate huge amounts of data, learn from data with Artificial Intelligence and use it to develop digital business models that can be scaled exponentially across countries and industries. Google’s search engine with a 95 percent EU market share is an example of both innovation leadership and quasi-monopoly. In order to gain sovereignty over data and data infrastructures, digital sovereignty is needed: from hardware and software components to communication networks, cloud infrastructures, data rooms and platforms.

European efforts such as the policy- and business-driven project “GAIA-X” deserve broad support, even if success is by no means certain. Self-determination does not mean self-sufficiency or the exclusion of dominant competitors. On the contrary: Europe’s path must be determined by diversity, openness and decentralization, not by isolation. A glance at the regional distribution of medium-sized world market leaders is enough to understand that Europe’s technological and entrepreneurial pound is not in the hands of a few large companies.

Germany has domain expertise
Appropriately, Europe should focus on building open digital ecosystems based on a common reference architecture and defined standards, enabling technological interoperability, providing distributed cloud and edge services and relying on European values such as trustworthiness, security, privacy and fairness. In the industrial sector, the race is still open, since production-strong and product-centric countries like Germany have domain expertise and industrial data such as machine, process, user and product data to which hyperscalers like Google and Amazon have so far had only limited access.

But to achieve sovereignty, Europe needs access to the cloud and data infrastructures, whether in the mechanical engineering or mobility sector. And it needs European regulation as well as state and companies as active consumers of European technology and business offerings. To do so, they must be secure, high-performance, cost-effective and competitive. A high standard! However, if Europe chooses the passive path, this endangers economic competitiveness, entrepreneurial freedom and, in the medium term, our prosperity.

Value creation shifts in favour of the platform operators
We know from the consumer world that investor-financed technology start-ups attack established business models in all domains, act as a platform operator between supplier and customer, define rules, standards and interfaces and benefit from network and economies of scale. As a result, value creation shifts in favour of the platform operators, traditional providers of products and services are degraded to suppliers. Operating and controlling platforms and marketing digital products and services on them is therefore a core prerequisite for Europe’s survival in a digital economy.

Since no single company in the industrial environment has the know-how and data to be successful in the digital age, digital value-added networks are the solution. The “Learning Systems” platform, led by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and acatech, recently highlighted a dozen success stories of digital ecosystems in Germany. One example shows how resilient manufacturing is created when machine builders can minimize production stops with the help of IoT and AI service providers by means of data-based prediction.

Process optimization is scalable
If the machine nevertheless comes to a standstill, a contingency insurance policy is taken out. In an Industry 4.0 logic, this creates a flexible production line that almost never stops and is therefore even more profitable. And: This process optimization including the digital business model is scalable and does not remain an isolated solution. Another example shows how agricultural APPs and IoT platforms enable cross-manufacturer data exchange with agricultural machinery, even if farmers and contractors use machines from different manufacturers.

The entire vehicle fleet can thus be optimized via one platform. This reduces complexity and enables medium-sized technology leaders for sensor systems, seeds or harvesting machines to scale in a trustworthy platform environment without having to take a greater entrepreneurial risk in building their own platforms.

Europe must speak with one voice

Many more such examples are needed – and they are also emerging in federal Europe. The realization is there, after all. But: In order to play an important role in the world, Europe should not only become faster, but should also speak with one voice, whether in enforcing a level playing field or in international standardization.

Completing the digital single market is also important to enable what China and the US have ahead of us: huge consumer markets in which domestic providers can scale. Europe is at a digital crossroads. Let us take the fork in the road to self-determination!

International Understanding: Expedition Baltic Sea Hawk

An expedition supporting the creation of international understanding and the creation of awareness for the UN sustainability goal No.14

EXPEDITION MISSION

THERE HAS BEEN AWAKENING

We are living and experiencing a time where we are globally opening borders again. It’s a time of hope and a time to celebrate the great achievements mankind made throughout cooperation, diplomacy and exchange.

Like in the days – many of us do record very well – when the Cold War ended and borders opened, brave women and men worked intensively in many projects to overcome also the barriers in the minds of the people. Fear was replaced by the hope for a better future for mankind. Adversaries became friends and as a result nationalism and populism were disarmed.

With Expedition Baltic Sea Hawk we want to commemorate with a ceremony on sea all those who were engaged for international understanding because we’re convinced that in these days it’s more than ever important to create understanding for the continuation of the historically longstanding period of peace in Europe. The GOST ceremony supporting international understanding will take place at the historical site, where sailors of the navies of NATO and Warsaw Pact operated with a sober attitude in closest distance during times when political tensions were on the edge.

SUSTAINABILITY

In addition to that we will support the UN sustainability Goal 14 by creating awareness for the BALTIC SEA AS A TIME MACHINE predicting the impact of human activities on our oceans. 

Overfishing, warming, acidification, pollution, eutrophication, loss of oxygen, intensive use of coasts—all these are phenomena that we observe around the globe. Because they have been particularly drastic in the Baltic, but also because some key problems were successfully addressed, the region can, for good and for bad, tell us what to expect and how to respond to the challenges of the future. 

The Baltic Sea, as a model region, can contribute to achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 14— THE CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF THE OCEANS, SEAS AND MARINE RESOURCES

JOCHEN WERNE
Co-Founder GOST and Expedition Leader
It‘s a great privilege commanding the flagship of Expedition „BALTIC SEA HAWK“ during this offshore challenge through the Baltic Sea to the North and hence crossing twice one of the planet’s most exciting waterways: the Kattegat. With a commemoration ceremony supporting international understanding we will remember and honour the sailors of the navies of NATO and Warsaw Pact who operated during the Cold War in these waters always with a sober attitude in closest distance, even when political tensions were on the edge. Their professional engagement has been instrumental for the long-standing period of peace in which we have the comfort to live in.

It‘s a great privilege commanding the flagship of Expedition „BALTIC SEA HAWK“ during this offshore challenge through the Baltic Sea to the North and hence crossing twice one of the planet’s most exciting waterways: the Kattegat. With a commemoration ceremony supporting international understanding we will remember and honour the sailors of the navies of NATO and Warsaw Pact who operated during the Cold War in these waters always with a sober attitude in closest distance, even when political tensions were on the edge. Their professional engagement has been instrumental for the long-standing period of peace in which we have the comfort to live in.

JOCHEN WERNE
EXPEDITION LEADER & CO-FOUNDER GLOBAL OFFSHORE SAILING TEAM

Cut…insights into the fun of a professional interview.

It was a great pleasure discussing with Dr. Robin Kiera about human behaviour and technological progress in the insurance industry during a perfectly organised EUROFORUM Deutschland GmbH conference in beautiful #Hamburg. Thanks Karin Hanten and the #EUROFORUM Team for the kind invitation.

…and thanks to Robin for keeping the fun alive which good interviews always bring

 #digitalisierung #germany #künstlicheintelligenz #handelsblatt #europa #strategie #technologien #deutschland #cybersecurity #defence #cyberthreats #security #aiplatform #innovation #artificialintelligence #platformeconomy #exponential #iot

Libra and the Dilemma of Trust

A crypto currency challenges technology, regulation and humans.

Author: Jochen Werne

“Money is perhaps the most concentrated and acute form and expression of trust in the social-state order.”

Georg Simmel


In this clarity, the German philosopher and sociologist Georg Simmel, born in 1858, formulated the value of a currency in his work “Philosophy of Money”. This clear and comprehensible insight also provides a simple basis for understanding why, for example, states rely on the independence of their central banks. And just as simply the question arises, which order do you trust when it comes to crypto currency?

Almost 4,000 of these currencies now exist worldwide. After Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, Litecoin and Co., Libra now wants to establish itself as a future heavyweight in the market – and with a noble goal. Libra is to become the cashless payment option “for mankind” and make international payment easier.

Libra Coin – the currency of the future?

No crypto currency received comparable media attention, triggered only by the announcement of the project. And the emotionality and toughness with which the discussion is already being conducted shows how seriously the topic is being taken. It’s about reputation, influence, control, responsibility and only in the last instance about technology. Central banks and government bodies are sceptical about the “currency of the future” on a broad basis, even though the advancing globalization could argue for a single currency in the long run. A currency that supports a consistent free exchange of goods and services. Also under discussion is whether Libra Coin could be the means of payment for the approximately 1.7 billion people who have no access to banking services and whether the familiarity and the large target group of Facebook, combined with the announced low transaction costs, could make it possible to reach billions of people worldwide.

Challenges at all levels

Technically, not all hurdles have been cleared yet: In order to make a stable coin possible, it is necessary to find the right technology. It is precisely this stability that is supposed to distinguish Libra Coin from other crypto currencies and thus also make it suitable for skeptical end consumers. Members such as Mastercard, Paypal or Ebay should also provide the Libra Association with their names and brand promises additional confidence for the end consumer. But already today the alliance is not as stable as the founding members had hoped and the exits of Mastercard, Visa and Paypal weakens the consortium.

The Libra Association has repeatedly emphasized that it wants to comply with all regulatory aspects, but there are voices at the political and banking levels that are extremely sceptical about the project. The new payment system raises many questions in monetary and legal terms. Central banks and supervisors want to keep an eye on the influence of the potentially new currency and usually share the view that whoever acts like a bank must be treated like a bank. In other words, comprehensive requirements must be met and regulations observed – especially at the international level. This is difficult because current regulations are designed for the classical financial system, with which the Libra system has largely no points of contact. The aim is to keep total regulatory influence and not to allow any possible loopholes.

Despite its American origin, the Libra Coin is to be administered from Geneva by the Libra Association. The idea here is to be regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA. Although Facebook has paid a lot of attention to the underlying technology, the legal issues still need to be clarified. Especially with regard to money laundering, consumer protection and possible misuse of the currency for illegal activities. Within the Association, there will be no special treatment for the founder Facebook, but equal voting rights for all members.

Acceptance and European values

With regard to Germany, it can be said that its citizens are within the international average as far as their affinity for digital is concerned. However, a historical-cutlurell caution can certainly be observed with regard to the topic of money, which certainly explains the well-known love of cash. A more pronounced European awareness of data protection with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes many people, especially in Germany, sceptical about the subject. The fact that Libra was launched by Facebook is hardly a confidence booster after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The fear of the transparent customer meets with security concerns about one’s own savings. Every German knows the quote: “Friendship ends with money” and thus new things are always put test. Culturally different in Sweden, where sometimes it’s only possible to pay by card. The same in China, where WeChat Pay and Alipay are no longer just a trend.

As always, changes are taking place step by step. It remains to be seen whether Libra Coin in its current form has future prospects. In any case, any change can only work if it is accepted and used by the end consumer despite all skepticism.

And this stands and falls – also in the digital world – with what Georg Simmel already put in the centre in terms of money in the 19th century: CONFIDENCE.

A more in-depth look at money and value can be found in the article “Coined Liberty 2.0“.

Following the keynote on “Libra in Retail?” at the Payment Summit 2019 in Hamburg, the article “Libra and the Dilemma of Trust” has been published to give participants further insides on the topic.

Artificial intelligence in the financial sector

It has been pleasure being guest author for the DIGIPRAKTIKER, Finanz Colloquium Heidelberg.

What role does the human factor play in times of exponential technological progress?

Author: Jochen Werne, Director Business Development, Product Management, Treasury and Payment Services at Bankhaus August Lenz & Co. AG

I. Introduction

The only constant in history was, is and remains change. Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press in 1450 was a milestone on the timeline of human development. Today we still take note of this invention, which was considered an innovation at that time, but we have long lived surrounded by smartphones and cloud applications, in which we can store the most private information and retrieve it from anywhere in the world. Today’s change is being driven by a veritable digital revolution.

Digital change already has fundamental consequences for individuals and their lifestyles, but it is developing its full potential when it comes to interacting with our social environment. In times of smart robotics and maturing systems in relation to artificial intelligence, the question arises again and again what role humans play on the stage of these technologies. Is he …

Read the full article by clicking here and being forwarded to the DigiPraktiker

Video: Full ec4u digital thoughts Conference Keynote: What’s next? Expeditions into the digital realm

Jochen Werne, Director Marketing & Business Development at Bankhaus August Lenz, explains in his keynote address how we can shape the future from the innovations and topics of the past and why digitization must be thought of not only technologically but also culturally.

ec4u Digital Thoughts Conference Keynote

Jochen Werne, Direktor Marketing & Business Development beim Bankhaus August Lenz, erläutert in seiner Keynote, wie wir aus den Innovationen und Themen der Vergangenheit in der Gegenwart die Zukunft gestalten können und warum Digitalisierung nicht nur technologisch, sondern auch kulturell gedacht werden muss.

Meetup: Influencer Marketing for FinTech and Banks

 “Thanks a lot Stefanie Milcke for the panel invitation to a great evening.

Check out this Meetup: Influencer Marketing for FinTech and Banks. Looking greatly forward to inspiring discussions”

This meetup is for all fans of the previous one about storytelling the other day and a special wish by one of my guests: Influencer Marketing.

I have invited some very cool speakers to tell us about their idea / business / approach in marketing – which I see more or less connected to influencer marketing:

Agenda
– Gerald Feind: How bloggers think and work (B2C)
– Jochen Werne: Becoming an influencer yourself (B2B)
– Ralf Mardeis: Platform meets Influencers (B2C)
– Thomas Braun: Platform meets video production (B2B/B2C)