Do our tables, windows and wallpaper actually need an IP address? This is one of the questions asked by Sven Gábor Jánszky (trend researcher, organizer of the annual Future Congress and Executive Director of the 2b AHEAD ThinkTanks) in his presentation on “Future Paths 2025” at the Vision Forum.

For the two-day conference at the Allianz Forum in Berlin experts from industry, academia and non-profit organizations came together to debate over the topic “Innovation Valley instead of Industry 4.0 – technical, digital and social aspects”. Valentina Kerst (Managing Director of the strategic Internet consulting firm topiclodge) gave participants a picture of the “current state” in Germany. The outlook there could be more optimistic. On a digital level, Germany lacks structures in politics and administration to take advantage of digitization. On a technical level, the country simply lacks the infrastructure. There are still regions in Germany, mainly in rural areas, where no high speed Internet is available. In the worldwide digital infrastructure ranking, Germany comes in 25th place. The country also needs to invest in the digital education of children. On a social level, Mr Jánszky predicted that cohabitation and relationships would change, with a shift of physical proximity to relational proximity created via social networks. There would also be a shift in trust that is built on relationships towards trust that is built on met expectations.

How come Germany is so far behind when it comes to digitization? The conference speakers agreed that the reason lies in Germany’s tendency to hold on to the old tried and tested. Moreover, many businesses underestimate the impact of digitization as a process of social transformation. Leadership, for example, needs to be rethought or even redesigned. Executives should see themselves as talent scouts, coaches, and mentors. They are responsible for attracting young talented people, retaining them in the company and thus driving innovation. Associate Professor Dr. Andreas Boes (Director of the Munich Center of Internet Research) and Prof. Dr. Stephan A. Jansen (Head of the Centers for Philanthropy & Civil Society, Karlsruhe Karlshochschule), who conducted research in Silicon Valley, reported that this technology hub clearly illustrates how important it is to create corporate cultures that allow their staff to make mistakes – because you learn from them. A number of best practice examples showed that this is also possible in Germany and Switzerland. Major organizations such as Triumph, Wittenstein AG and Haufe-umantis AG have introduced alternative management concepts as part of their corporate culture. Flexitime schemes and innovative leadership strategies are part of their new approaches that prove to be very successful. Be it schools, businesses or social institutions – during these two days, it became clear to me that it is all about boosting potential. Consequently, we have to break patterns in terms of roles, formats, skills – i.e. we need to think outside the box. This requires courage on the part of each manager and indeed, each person. How else can you stay innovative in terms of technology, digitization and society?

Sven Gábor Jánszky concluded his lecture by using a nice image. He suggested that we should think of our ideas as a fleet of ships. In a fleet, there are small rooms that are protected and at the same time, there is room for maneuver allowing us to create new spaces. A good chance for change!


Author: Silke Funk – THE MAK’ED TEAM