#DLD17 Unlocking Europe's Digital Economy For The Future

Willem Jonker, CEO EIT Digital at the DLD Conference 2017

Willem Jonker, CEO EIT Digital at the DLD Conference 2017

(FLTR) Moderator Viviane Reding (European Parliament), Willem Jonker (EIT Digital), Marc Al-Hames (Cliqz), Werner Vogels (Amazon)

(FLTR) Moderator Viviane Reding (European Parliament), Willem Jonker (EIT Digital), Marc Al-Hames (Cliqz), Werner Vogels (Amazon)

Digital transformation is changing economies and societies all over the world. New challenges arise through this change. Not only do people fear a decrease of jobs caused by the progress of AI and robotic technologies, worries abound that people might be excluded due to a low level of education.

At this year’s DLD Conference, Europe’s digital future and how the continent’s competitive edge can be upheld while facing the thriving competition from other regions was discussed. The panel included: EIT Digital CEO, Willem Jonker; Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon; and Marc Al-Hame, Managing Director of the startup CLIQZ. The Member of the European Parliament and former Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, moderated the session. Being one of the most influential tech conferences in Europe DLD regularly brings together scientists, business leaders, politicians, artists, game changers and startup entrepreneurs to discuss upcoming challenges of digitalisation and its effects on society, business and technology.

Digital Transformation demands a broad access to education

With a history of strong digital industry and research sectors Europe stands in the middle of the digital transformation and must decide whether it will take part in the change towards a digitalised world or not. Viviane Reding remarked that all parts of the society must take part and must be able to contribute to the transformation. According to Jonker it is unlikely that people may all of a sudden lose their jobs due to new technological developments. In the next years the digital focus will not only support companies’ business it will become their business. This will influence all levels of the workforce. There will be a gradual transition of “doing the work to supervising the work”, which will give the chance to phase out certain jobs that are not needed anymore in a socially respectable way. “Digital transformation is not going to become an inclusive transformation. That is why EIT Digital heavily invests in lifelong (online) learning in order to drive the continuous education of professionals that can make sure that there will be an inclusive transition of all people”, said Jonker. 

Europe needs a stronger global mind-set

It is a mission of EIT Digital to support ventures for European growth to make sure they can overcome the hurdles of the fragmented European market. That this is one of the biggest challenges in Europe confirms also Werner Vogels: Amazon is a pioneer in cloud computing and with millions of businesses running on their platform. Taking the European data flow as a benchmark coming through digital services, Vogels says that there is little (about 4%) cross border services being delivered within Europe. Jonker adds that the mind-set within Europe may be a cause, as it is focussed on a too local scale. This results in the translation of this mind-set in the digital world which is global by definition. Given Europe’s strength in industrial production of high value and high quality goods, Europe is in an excellent position to become the leader among other regions of the world. The outcome could be huge. To succeed in the global transition Europe must focus on its strengths which lie in three areas, according to Willem Jonker:

  1. Car industry: the combustion engine will lose its importance and remove a barrier of entry for new innovations.
  2. Digital Industry: the speed of how information technologies are adopted in the industries will mark the level of success.
  3. Health care: the European health care system is an unmatched asset that must be built on.

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