Bitkom held its second Big Data summit 2014 in Hanau, Germany. The German Federal Association for IT, Telecommunications and New Media had invited Big Data practitioners and industry experts to discuss the state of Big Data in Germany and learn from successful case studies.

Germany should become leader in Big Data technology

In her keynote Brigitte Zypries, the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, shared her positive view on the current state of adoption of Big Data in Germany with 40% of companies claiming to already use it. She expressed her view that Germany, despite the absence of players like Google or Facebook, has a good basis to become one of the leading nations in development of Big Data technologies. She compared data to a natural resource that can be refined to add value by making it smart.

According to her the focus industries of the current Government are Industry, Energy, Mobility and Health. Especially in the case of Energy innovative approaches are desperately needed to accomplish the governments renewable energy targets (‘Energiewende’). She also mentioned the Mittelstand, the German SMEs, who should be encouraged to further adopt and even drive the development of Big Data technology. A goal that some participants questioned given the lagging rate of adoption at SMEs especially in more traditional sectors. To counter this trend, the ministry for Economic Affairs launched a technology competition ‘Smart data, innovation from data’ which is still open for entries until April 15.

She also touched on data security and privacy, a hot topic in the context of personal data, especially in Germany. Her view was that data protection and privacy has to be an integral aspect of any Big Data business. But at the same time data privacy rules should allow a sustainable usage of data for Big Data businesses to build value adding services.

Without a business use case Big Data will fail

A recurring theme from participants was that Big Data alone will not create successful business cases. Horst Ellermann, Chief Editor of CIO-Magazin, summed it up tellingly saying that “Without a compelling business use case, we often see garbage in garbage out results. If you add Big Data technology like Hadoop to it, then all you get is Big garbage in Big garbage out”.

Industry use cases

During the numerous plenary and industry breakout sessions Big Data practitioners from Telecommunications to Banking shared how they applied Big Data to improve their service offerings. As successful data-driven case studies are mostly kept private, this was a wealth of information and ideas.

Author Daniel Nippes @danielnippes

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