Ukrainian IT talents ready to help Germany lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution

The world’s gearing up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which promises to trigger the transition to a brand new set of systems, bringing together digital, biological and physical technologies in powerful combinations.

The spread of computer technologies has made manufacturing completely autonomous and remotely controlled. This has brought the global economy to the next level, leapfrogging from mass production on an assembly line to (once farfetched) robotization.

But even these advances in technology are quickly going out-of-date.

Tech trend to watch

The next big thing is the wireless interconnectivity of various devices, also known as the Internet of Things. It’s believed to have the power to level-up production communication, bringing to life machines that will speak to machines and make decisions on simple tasks without even asking humans.

Many call it the future — Industry 4.0 — and can’t wait for it to come into action.

Wolfram Rehbock, a managing partner at legal consultancy Rehbock&Friends, is one of them. It’s inevitable that the world will soon embark on a new revolution, this time a technological one, according to Rehbock.

Wolfram Rehbock. Industry 4.0

“What exactly can be connected is unknown yet — a scary but much desired future,” is how he describes it.

Rehbock thinks that smart technologies will make it possible to get rid of monotonous tasks. It will speed up and make more efficient the manufacturing process and give people more room for creativity.

While Industry 3.0 focused on the automation of single machines and processes, Industry 4.0 aims towards the end-to-end digitization of all physical assets and integration into digital ecosystems. This interconnectivity will also allow the analysis of big data to reveal patterns, trends in human behaviour. This can make the manufacturing process customizable like never before.

Closer than anyone else

And it comes as almost no surprise that Rehbock, hailing from Germany, talks about this interconnected future with enthusiasm — with its political and economic stability, the country seems to be very close to the next technological breakthrough. The term Industry 4.0 is widely used, particularly in Germany.

A major country right in the heart of Europe, Germany has had one of the healthiest economies in the world for quite a long time due to its productivity, export-oriented approach, and political firmness. All the same, it has every chance of increasing its dominance if it’s first to reap the fruits of the fourth industrial revolution.

Companies in Germany are rapidly digitizing internal operations and partnering across the horizontal value chain. Meanwhile, the buzz around Industry 4.0 has moved from what some saw as just PR hype to investment and real results today.

Flow of investments

According to PWC estimates, most global companies from various fields have already significantly increased their portfolios of digital products and services, and more than twice as many of them expect to double their level of digitization by 2020.

These companies plan to invest around $1 trillion into the digitization process yearly up until 2020. The major focus of this investment will be on digital technologies like sensors or connectivity devices, as well as on software and applications like manufacturing execution systems. Substantial investments are planned, particularly by the leaders in electronics production ($243 billion), engineering and construction ($195 billion), and industrial manufacturing ($177 billion).

Through this investment, the companies expect to increase annual revenues by an average of 2.9 percent and reduce costs by an average of 3.6 percent per year. The pioneers who combine high investment levels with advanced digitisation are set to achieve even more dramatic gains.

If these expectations are met at least partially, Industry 4.0 can fundamentally reshape the competitive landscape and bring monumental change to established industries.

And this is the potential in which Germany has been showing a great deal of interest lately.

According to Secretary General of the Plattform Industrie 4.0 in Germany Henning Banthien, the development of Industry 4.0 is a priority for the country. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel claims the country is already an international leader in its implementation — only in 2015, its companies planned to invest around 10.9 billion euros.

Ukrainian supply meets German demand

Notwithstanding this substantial effort, however, Germany still has to catch up with some other world leaders in the field. According to the World Economic Forum, Germany has not yet reached the list of the top 10 countries ranked by the network readiness index. The leaders are the Scandinavian countries, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Lack of digital culture and training is the biggest challenge facing Germany, thinks Wolfram Rehbock.

“The German market is a locomotive, very often it’s a hub for IT companies and funds that invest in them. At the same time, the German education is very standard and people tend to be less creative than in Ukraine,” Rehbock says.

“This is very surprising,” he went on. “I wonder how it is that Ukrainians have such a good education. Ukrainians live in more difficult conditions, and maybe this gives them some additional skills. In Germany, we are pretty satisfied with what we have.”

Having lived and worked in Ukraine for 15 years, Rehbock noticed that Ukrainian universities teach very good basics, which gives Ukrainians the possibility to improve later.

“People here tend to say that the education in universities is obsolete. They somehow understand it very early, and here — self-education fills in the gaps,” Rehbock says, adding: “Ukrainians are very good at this.”

Throughout the time Rehbock has spent in Ukraine, he has always tried to bring German tech companies to the Ukrainian market, matchmaking them.

“Germany lacks IT experts and it may be very beneficial for the country to cooperate with Ukrainians,” he says. “There are spheres where Ukraine and Germany can really complement each other. The IT industry is one of them.”

“So, it’s high time to finally do something,” he says. And Rehbock is not all talk — he has already started arranging conferences where, as he puts it, “German demand meets Ukrainian supply.” One such conference, Discover Ukraine 4.0, is set to occur in Berlin on July 4, 2017.

Discover Ukraine 4.0

And as the Ukrainian IT industry is developing very fast and collaboration with it can be beneficial for Germany, the Ukrainian side will gain as well — if you can sell something on the German market in accordance with its high standards, you’ll be able to do the same on other markets for sure.

“I am not implying that ‘made in Ukraine’ is bad,” Rehbock says. “Things that are made by Ukrainians can be of superb quality. It’s just that people do not always understand this. Yet.”

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