The European Commission (EC) has championed the use of digital technology to drive Europe’s future industrial economy.
Andrus Ansip, EC vice president in charge of the Digital Single Market, said in a speech exploring the EU’s prospects that all industries will need to embrace digital transformation if they are to remain a driving force in the European economy.
“In the future, all industrial sectors must make the best use of new technologies. Transport to telecoms equipment, factories to farming, high-tech to low-tech,” he said.
“The EC wants to get industry digital as far as possible. We want to boost innovation in new growth areas: the data economy, the Internet of Things [IoT], high-performance cloud computing.
"We want to boost innovation in traditionally strong European sectors like engineering, health, logistics. We want to promote common technical standards and e-government services.”
Ansip explained that the EU will present a package of Digital Single Market initiatives that underline how the European Union can boost digital innovation and technology use across its economic sectors.
These initiatives are part of the EC’s goal to put Europe’s industry in a position to compete in digital technology and ensure that all aspects of the industrial world can benefit.
Ansip explained that this will include making use of cloud computing and big data, creating a plug-and-play environment for the IoT, ensuring interoperability of business systems across member states, and creating enough digital skills to fill future technology jobs.
These have been prevalent topics over the past few years in the technology world, and technology trends such as cloud and big data are effectively the precursors of digital transformation for companies and organisations.
However, Ansip explained that digital transformation is a way to create an environment where industries can easily make use of digital technology at scale, rather than see individual companies benefit while their peers are left behind.
The starting point in achieving the EC’s goals is to encourage more investment in creating a “digitalised industry” that pools private and public resources.
However, Ansip warned that the EC will need to overcome a jungle of standards and standards-setting bodies that have allowed more access to valuable data but thrown up administration and capacity hurdles that prevent its easy use.
To solve this, the EC will address standardisation in five core areas: 5G communications, cloud computing, IoT, big data and cyber security.
“Standards-setting is vital for industrial and innovation leadership. The starting point will be to map and assess what can be streamlined and simplified,” said Ansip.
"We are building the foundations for our digital future. That is why we have to act, and act now. Industry itself has asked us to do this. Going digital is a complex operation and almost every aspect of our lives is affected. This is only the beginning.”
Digital transformation is becoming an unavoidable necessity for all industries, such as vehicle manufacturing as seen with Toyota’s partnership with Microsoft to use the Azure cloud to power connected car tech and data services.
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