How digital is Germany’s industry – a new BITKOM study clarifies

What about the digitisation of German industry? This question was addressed in a recent study by Bitkom. In doing so, they surveyed 552 industrial companies with 100 employees or more and went in search of the current status of digital transformation. The results show: we are in the midst of a transformation from analog to digital. 73% of the industrial companies are currently working on their digital business model.


“In contrast to other areas, we seem to have heard the wake-up call many years ago” – Achim Berg, Bitkom President


The study clearly shows that six out of ten industrial companies now use special applications from industry 4.0 to modernize their company and make their processes more efficient. A few years ago, this was not conceivable. However, Corona had less influence on this development than, for example, the education system or the retail trade. German industry started its transformation early on and recognized the great potential behind 5G, AI and Industry 4.0.


“This positive development must not be dampened by Corona. The more digitally oriented the industrial companies are, the faster they will recover from the consequences of the shutdown.”

According to the study, it is also difficult to slow down companies. 94% say that they see great potential for new business models in digitization. For example, industrial companies from the medical technology sector are continuing to develop into digital healthcare service providers, and automotive groups are focusing on future-oriented and smart mobility solutions.

According to the BITKOM study, most companies are relying on data-driven business models and are building their new products and services on the data collected and evaluated. The focus here is particularly on modernizing existing models rather than replacing the status quo. Only 3% of the industrial companies have a real disruption.


Artificial intelligence in industry

It is particularly interesting to note that in many of the industrial companies AI applications can be found Artificial intelligence is used by one in seven of the companies surveyed, for example, to operate predictive maintenance, monitor machines or improve quality. The use of industrial robots is also on the rise and supports employees in their work processes.

In addition to maintenance (43%) using AI, increasing productivity (41%) and optimizing processes (39%) are particularly important for the companies.


5G the industry should digitize even more

73% of the industrial companies surveyed see 5G as an incredible boost for the digital transformation. They want to further optimize their machinery and industry 4.0 applications and develop further data-driven business models through the latency-free and data-oriented transmission of the new mobile communications standard.


Jobs in industry 4.0

The issue of securing skilled workers and jobs was also a major part of the study. Of the companies surveyed, 66% see the potential to create new jobs for trained specialists. These must demonstrate particularly interdisciplinary skills in order to optimally accompany the emerging fusion of IT and mechanical engineering.

At the same time, there is also a shift within employee structures. Due to the currently moving in Industry 4.0, 14% of the industrial companies also want to lay off employees this year, as the jobs are no longer needed due to automation.


“The introduction of new technologies, tools and methods naturally has an impact on the employees in the companies. Digital education and further training are essential now and in the future”

Despite all the positive developments, BITKOM President Berg was of the opinion that digitisation should be neglected in view of the Corona Pandemic. Companies must continue to work on themselves and integrate digital processes in order to make a truly future-oriented start in tomorrow’s working world and to recover quickly from problems such as shutdowns.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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