Digitization is changing the value creation of companies in the industrial country of Germany – including the Free State of Saxony. For small and medium-sized enterprises, this transformation process is virtually existential. Data is a major driver of digitization. They also open up opportunities for improving production processes, for new products and services, and for innovative business models. But how can companies create new value from their data? The joint project "Data Mining and Value Creation" of the Fraunhofer IMW and the University of Leipzig is investigating these research questions. On 5 November 2018, the start of the large-scale research project, designed jointly with the University of Leipzig for a project duration of four years and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Free State of Saxony with funds of €7.5 million, took place in Leipzig's Salles de Pologne. The working meeting, which was accompanied by a welcoming address from the Minister of State for Science and the Arts, Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, and Leipzig mayor Ulrich Hörning, met with lively interest from the companies involved in the project.
The scientists of the Fraunhofer IMW and the University of Leipzig analyze the economic value of data and the status of digitization, especially of Saxony-based companies, during the project period until 2022. New methods and suitable software solutions will be developed to scientifically measure and substantiate the value of data.
Project manager Prof. Dr. Heiko Gebauer from Fraunhofer IMW started the kickoff event with a a thematic overview of the project and an insight into initial findings from interviews with industry representatives. He described that entrepreneurs increasingly had to make strategic decisions on the basis of a comprehensive data analysis of different sources in order to remain internationally competitive.
In the subsequent World Café, experts from the field gave impulses on various topics of digitization: from industry 4.0 to visual analytics to blockchain. In the tourism industry, for example, the technology behind blockchain could make it possible in the future to systematize data from the "customer journey" and distribute it securely to all participating partner companies worldwide. The World Café table Cybersecurity discussed how secure value creation through data can be achieved. The experts from the University of Leipzig presented the semantic analysis of extensive texts by converting words into numerical values, so-called text mining. The World Café offered a sound insight into various aspects of digitization and at the same time served as a comparison of expectations between the invited entrepreneurs and the research team.
In the afternoon, the overall project was again the focus. The Saxon Minister of State for Science and the Arts, Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, emphasized the central role of the project in her welcoming address at the start of the research project, which was funded with € 7.5 million by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Free State of Saxony. "Your core task is to use your research to advance digitization in Saxony, to jointly develop new digital business models and to further develop digital skills." The Minister of State described the project as an important foundation stone for the digital progress of Saxony's small and medium-sized enterprises.
Prof. Dr. Thorsten Posselt, director of the Fraunhofer IMW, added: "The project 'Data Mining and Value Creation' serves as a first and important impulse with the long-term goal of transferring the findings to other industries and federal states."
The prorector for development and transfer of the University of Leipzig, Prof. Dr. Thomas Lenk, emphasized the university as a strong scientific partner of the Fraunhofer IMW and the companies. He highlighted the groundbreaking cooperation of several institutes of the University of Leipzig with the Fraunhofer IMW in the field of digitization research. "The university and non-university research team combines socio-economic and software-supported competencies in order to support Saxon-based companies in the digitization process and to help them better assess the significance of their digital data and make this data usable."
In his speech, the Mayor and Alderman for the General Administration of the City of Leipzig, Ulrich Hörning, presented the digitization projects of the City of Leipzig.
Practical insights into everyday business life were also provided in lectures given by company representatives and experts. Dr. Egbert Röhm, managing director of Theegarten Pactec GmbH & CO. KG, explained the use of intelligent machines and algorithms in the packaging industry. In his lecture, he also pointed out open questions and concrete starting points for the "Data Mining and Value Creation" project.
During the subsequent networking, the participants from business, science and politics deepened the discussion and the exchange on the potentials of data-based technologies. Interested companies got first-hand information about the possibility of participating in the project in order to jointly develop new models of value creation and new IT solutions for the commercial use of data as added value for companies in Saxony.
The article first appeared on the Fraunhofer IMW website (in German).