In 1999, at the onset of a new millennium, German rap/pop band Die Fantastischen Vier had a smash hit in the German charts called ‘MfG’. MfG, a popular abbreviation of the closing sentence in letters and emails, was used synonymously as the title of a song that was simply a long list of rapped German abbreviations, paired with a cheeky chorus.
This week, I was reminded of that song when looking at the IT buzz words that are resonating with the German public – among them English expressions such as Industry 4.0 (albeit ironically the related government-backed initiative is currently having some tough times), digital transformation and Internet of Things (IoT).
Similar to the initial stages of media coverage on Cloud and Big Data, the buzz words of 2014 and 2013, there seems to be far more vague discussion of high-level concepts, and a significantly smaller amount of meaningful, real-life stories on what Industry 4.0, digital transformation and IoT are actually enabling people to achieve. Yet – as MfG tells us – without knowing what the abbreviations stand for, they are no more than white noise.
As a communications professional, I get a kick out of seeing when companies or institutions actually manage to fill these big buzz words with life and successfully share it through the media and other ‘message multipliers’.
A recent German example of how digital transformation makes for a better world comes from the Port of Hamburg, historically the symbol of Germany’s gateway to the world. It’s recently developed App tells truck drivers which routes avoid traffic jams, or if their cargo ship is delayed. It even allows them to book parking spots. Smart switches enable maintenance teams to work more efficiently, using modern technology to signal which of them need to be lubricated – a significant time saver in comparison to the past where the maintenance team had to check all of them regularly to find out. Knowledge gained from all of these sensors and inputs is intended to eventually be transferred back into the city’s traffic control system, enhancing quality of life for Hamburg’s citizens who share their home with Europe’s third-largest port.
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