Which topics in business require more research


The digitization of the economy: research at ZEW

Are we running out of work due to digital transformation and artificial intelligence? Is Germany lagging behind in terms of digitization? Fast internet, algorithms, large amounts of data and digital services are changing economic and social processes. New business models, working methods and forms of communication are emerging. This opens up new opportunities to generate sales, secure market shares or conquer new markets. But digitization also requires adaptation processes in companies and employees. In order to make the best possible use of the potential of digitization for business and society, it is important to understand the possible uses of digital technologies and their mechanisms of action, to make them measurable and to create suitable framework conditions. ZEW's research on digitization provides business and politics with an evidence-based orientation framework for decisions.

ZEW expert Irene Bertschek on digitization research at ZEW

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Today almost nothing works without digitization: ZEW expert Irene Bertschek explains our research on digitization.

Digital technologies and their use in business

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are important drivers of digitization in Germany. The ICT industry not only provides digital solutions for companies, the public sector and private households, but is often itself a leader in the use of new hardware products or IT services. As a result, the ICT industry is a continuous subject of research at ZEW.

Those who digitize will get through the crisis healthier

A virus has rocked the world's economy tremendously. Production plants are at a standstill, people go into short-time work or work from home, and some are losing their livelihood. Much will be able to be turned back after the end of the corona lockdown, but it is already clear that the economy will not recover from this crisis as quickly and that the corona crisis will leave far clearer marks than the financial and economic crisis 2008/2009 did. Nevertheless, there is a lot that we can learn from the financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009.

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New index shows clear differences in the degree of digitization in the German economy

The degree of digitization of the economy in Germany differs significantly. A very heterogeneous picture emerges here depending on the industry, company size class, federal state group or type of region considered. The ICT industry is the front runner in the field of digitization and by a large margin. After all, it comes to 273.0 index points and thus far exceeds the average of all industries, which is standardized to 100 points. The other manufacturing industries (55.6 index points), the tourism industry (64.4 index points) and other manufacturing industries (66.7 index points) are the least digitized.

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Economic activity at an all-time low

The economic mood in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector deteriorated further in the second quarter of 2020. The ZEW sentiment indicator for the German ICT industry has lost 3.5 points compared to the first quarter of 2020 and has dropped to an all-time low of 47.6 points. The ZEW sentiment indicator has thus slipped below the critical 50 point mark for the first time since records began in 2011, signaling a negative development in business. In addition to sales and demand, ICT companies are also pessimistic about changes in their workforce.

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The digital change is changing jobs and activities at an unprecedented speed. Digitization is taking place in almost all areas of the world of work today. How much human labor is replaced by this is assessed differently. It is clear that the digital change creates a great need for further training and retraining that employees and companies have to face. The pressure to adapt is particularly high for low-skilled employees.

The future of work: the changing world of work

The world of work is changing with digitization; more and more tasks can be automated. ZEW economist Professor Melanie Arntz talks to presenter Carola Hesch in the new episode of the #ZEWPodcast about which activities will still need people in the future and how the requirement profiles for employees are changing due to the current structural change. For all those who fear an end to their work, she first gives the all-clear: "The bottom line is that we won't run out of work."

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Technological change is dividing the labor market in Germany

Digitization and automation will bring moderate employment growth in Germany up to 2021, but are also likely to cause increasing income inequality among employees. Contrary to widespread public perception, technological change will create more jobs than it will destroy. Of central importance, however, is not so much the number of jobs affected, but rather the structural change in the labor market, which is taking place with advancing digitization and automation.

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Data and platform economy

Network giants such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have become symbols of the platform economy, which is characterized by network effects and monopoly structures. In many areas, digital platforms act as intermediaries. Hotel booking platforms arrange hotel rooms, digital labor markets combine the demand for workers with corresponding offers. Data is a key factor in the platform economy. They are the basis for the development of new services and smartphone apps, often also means of payment for using them. But data is not only important for platform operators and app developers, the analysis of large, unstructured databases from different sources has become an important strategic tool for many companies in traditional industries as well.

The corona warning app: potential and weaknesses

When the Corona warning app hit the market, it was seen as one of the most important tools to fight the pandemic. These hopes have hardly been fulfilled so far. The number of users of the app is not large enough to contain the virus effectively. The data protection concerns among the population remain significant. User guidance and performance measurement are also in need of improvement. In the current episode of the #ZEWPodcast, Dr. Dominik Rehse, head of the junior research group "Design of digital markets" on the potential and deficits of the Corona warning app. He explains why the app is still a good idea and how it could be improved with the help of a real laboratory.

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Financial market experts consider digital currencies dangerous without strict supervision

The introduction and issuance of digital currencies such as Libra, as is planned by the online group Facebook, or Bitcoin without strict legal requirements is largely viewed critically by financial market experts: Around 88 percent are convinced that digital currencies without strict regulatory supervision Pose a threat to financial stability. This is the result of a special question in the current ZEW financial market test, in which 193 financial market experts took part.

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ZEW President

Achim Wambach

The creation of a competitive and human-oriented framework for digitization must have the highest priority.