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Dear all,

This is a summary of our discussion at the combined roundtables on IoT during the SAP Alumni Event.

Thanks to all who participated in this exciting discussion and to all others enjoy reading.

In case of further questions, or comments please feel free to reach out to us.

Best regards

Tanja (Rueckert), Elena (Ordonez del Campo), Ralf (Meyer), Eva (Zauke)

Participants of the discussion

  • Ahnert, Gerald

  • Hoehnen, Andreas

  • Bouwmeester, Berend

  • Buck-Emden, Rüdiger

  • Gebker, Jürgen

  • Meyer, Ralf

  • Morice, Emmanuelle

  • Ordónez del Campo, Elena M.

  • Rueckert, Tanja

  • Siebert, Joerg

  • Ulmer, Hans

  • Woidt, Michael

  • Wüst, Renate

  • Zauke, Eva

  • Zeine, Hala

Summary of the discussion

The major aspects of the discussion were around the following questions

  • How might the global economy be impacted by the Internet of Things?

  • Which categories of jobs might be affected?

  • How may the potential loss of jobs due to the increased use of robotics affect different countries?

  • How may the workforce’s behavior change if they don’t have to work anymore?

  • How can the poverty dilemma be handled?

  • Is it a realistic option to offer a basic income?

  • How can we best prepare the next generation for this future environment?

  • What type of impact is IoT having in the political landscape globally?

  • Why is the Fourth Industrial Revolution supposed to change everything so radically?

The Impact of Global Networks on Democracy

We opened the discussion with the observation that as IoT becomes more pervasive across the global economy, a networked environment becomes increasingly important, resulting in a truly interconnected world. With this context in mind, the importance of effective international interactions and communication was identified, as well as the increased need to jointly develop new ideas and share common knowledge across borders.

The team continued the discussion by acknowledging a universal asset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – information. As Industry 4.0 is based on information, it will continue to affect all industries. In a related manner, questions were further raised regarding potential consequences this could have on governing bodies and for democracy overall; for example, how to provide support for the next generation to cope with this radical change? After further discussion, it was proposed that both governments and individuals would have a responsibility in addressing this change; governments would need to offer respective services and a legal framework may be required, but that also individuals would need to take ownership to educate themselves as necessary.

Impact of IoT on the Global Workforce

The conversation next shifted to how this changing environment would lead to changing skills sets in the future, and the challenge educational institutions (e.g. schools, universities) may face in being able to fulfill these requirements. With this in mind, the team contemplated a question – “how can governments support their citizens to be prepared for this changing work environment, e.g. perhaps by offering a basic income for everyone to offer equal opportunities?” Education, however, was only one consideration, another being ethical behavior and how to empower young people with self-confidence to cope with this world.

While bettering the future workforce was recognized as critical, equally important are today’s employees. The team identified the need for further training of the current workforce in vital IoT-related fields such as security, which has been identified as one of the biggest areas of concern associated with IoT. Furthermore, employees today already struggle to keep pace with the rapid emergence of new technologies. It is important to address such topics, with the goal of attaining a balance between unlimited range of opportunities and an appropriate level of responsibility.


In the end, the team settled on a few key conclusions:

  • To cope with the current challenges, individuals should stay curious and eager to learn, while also developing and preserving values and ethics

  • All generations need to be part of the journey, and diversity needs to be an integral part to offer benefits for all

  • It is not sufficient to wait for governing bodies to act, rather everyone - especially WE, as experts in IT, technology, processes and management of change - should attempt to discuss, inform and guide these developments in our environments

  • There needs to be the right and balanced mixture of political, economic and legal frameworks of limits and freedom of choice

  • Undeniably, the Internet of Things presents a huge opportunity which should be embraced, with the opportunity to gain real breakthrough developments in both the private and public sectors, as well as the scientific and research community, but we – the experts - should not forget our own responsibilities.