Tag: german

German tech industry dragged into the 21st century

Hartmann_Maschinenhalle_1868_(01)Germany, whose industry has been relying on things to run the same way as they did before those World Wars, has suddenly woken up in the digital age and is a little worried about it.

According to Reuters big German companies have started teaming up with start-ups to shake up their conservative business culture and keep pace with a world increasingly dominated by nimble tech giants.

Most of the German blue-chips run along 19th century lines with only the youngest — SAP, founded less than 43 years ago.

In other Western countries the top 30 companies on the Nasdaq were set up in the 1980s or later and the fourth-biggest firm, Facebook, was established about a decade ago.

German government officials and company executives fear they could fall far behind if they cannot swiftly identify and adopt innovations in web and smartphone technology that have driven the success of Google, Apple and Amazon.

Metro, Bayer, Evonik, Merck KGaA and Deutsche Telekom are now investing in start-ups – seeking to gain digital expertise, as well as to embrace newcomers whose innovations could represent threats to their own businesses.

They have a long way to go, Investment in German start-ups more than doubled to $1.74 billion last year, this was less than the amount raised by Uber. US-based start-ups drew $49.39 billion.

Fewer than half of Germany’s top 500 companies have a comprehensive digital strategy, according to a study by Accenture.Only 11 percent use social media and only six percent cloud computing, the European Commission’s Digital Economy Index published at the end of February showed.

Healthcare firms Bayer, Merck and Boehringer Ingelheim, Deutsche Telekom and chemicals group Evonik, meanwhile, have all set up multi-million euro in-house venture funds. Deutsche Telekom has pledged to invest $542 million in Germany’s start-up scene over the next five years.

The German government has announced plans to try to promote startups. They include a pre-market web platform to connect young companies with investors.

However most say that there needs to be more venture capital investment in Germany and the scene needs to be more attractive in terms of taxation.

The other problem is that the Germans do not like investing in something which might go tits up.

 

Red tape stalls German driverless cars

3ecde1af5cbac6ae39dea6274262646bGerman car makers have been tied up with red-tape over driver-less car technology.

German auto-manufacturers have moaned that domestic laws limit their efforts to test the appropriate software for self-driving vehicles on public roads and this means that that US competitors, such as Google, are ahead when it comes to developing software designed to react effectively when placed in real-life traffic scenarios.

In December, Google unveiled a fully-functioning prototype of its Self-Driving Car which it plans to start testing in California this year.

Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen CEO said: “We are currently testing at our research facilities, some of them in the United States. The question is: do we only test these cars on public roads in the United States or can we also do it in Germany. Not enough has been done.”

Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have all revealed prototype driverless vehicles which can be tested on German roads – however currently they are not legally allowed to test the cars with a distracted driver, i.e. emailing or texting in a moving car on public roads.

RAMNIT sent to the works

12026489_8cfc0bee54A  three million strong botnet which filled the world with phishing emails has been shut down thanks to the efforts of the National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU), police in the  Netherlands, Italy and Germany.

The shut-down was co-ordinated through Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), which also shut down command and control servers used by the RAMNIT botnet.

Investigators believe that RAMNIT may have infected over three million computers worldwide, with around 33,000 of those being in the UK. It has so far largely been used to attempt to take money from bank accounts. Analysis is now taking place on the servers and an investigation is ongoing.

RAMNIT was one of the most prevalent botnets in McAfee Threat reports for some time and Europol was alerted to RAMNIT by Microsoft, after data analysis showed a big increase in infections.

Steve Pye from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit said: “Through this operation, we are disrupting a cyber crime threat which has left thousands of ordinary computer users in the UK at risk of having their privacy and personal information compromised.”

“This malware effectively gives criminals a back door so they can take control of your computer, access your images, passwords or personal data and even use it to circulate further spam messages or launch illegal attacks on other websites. As a result of this action, the UK is safer from RAMNIT, but it is important that individuals take action now to disinfect their machines, and protect their personal information,” Pye said.

 

Lufthansa sells IT infrastructure to Big Blue

lufthansa-history-1German airline Lufthansa is about to sell its IT infrastructure unit to IBM as part of an outsourcing agreement for the services.

Europe’s largest airline by revenue is undergoing restructuring and cost-cutting efforts to better position itself to compete with low-cost carriers and Arabic rivals

It earlier this year said it was seeking a buyer for the unit, which provides data centres, networks and telephony. Apparently, it is worried that it requires a high level of investment and economies of scale, which the airline could not afford.

Under the deal, Lufthansa will outsource all of its IT infrastructure services to IBM for seven years. The US firm will take over the airline’s IT infrastructure division, currently part of Lufthansa Systems.

The deal will result in a one-off pre-tax charge of 240 million euro for Lufthansa. It will allow Lufthansa to reduce its annual IT costs by around 70 million euro a year. It is not clear how much this will all cost in the end as this is still being ironed out.

German watchdog barks at Google

AnubiA German data protection watchdog has snarled at the search engine Google for the way it creates data profiles from its various services.

The data protection commissioner for the German city state of Hamburg has ordered Google to take the necessary technical and organizational measures to guarantee that their users can decide on their own if and to what extend their data is used for profiling.

Commissioner Johannes Caspar growled that Google had refused to grant users more control over how it aggregates data across its services including Gmail, Android and the web search engine.

The Hamburg watchdog said it represented Germany as part of a European task force evaluating Google’s privacy policy.

Processing data that reveals financial wealth, sexual orientation and relationship status, among other aspects of private life, is unlawful in Germany unless users give their explicit consent, it added.

Google is not saying anything about the comments, although the Financial Times earlier quoted a company spokesman as saying Google was studying the order to determine its next steps.

European data privacy regulators last week handed Google a list of guidelines to help it bring the way it collects and stores user data in line with EU law.

Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, have opened investigations into Google after it consolidated its 60 privacy policies into one and started combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps.

Amazon can’t read Germany

german strikeUS online bookseller Amazon is continuing its war against the German unions despite multiple strikes shutting down its business.

American companies generally do not understand trade unions, which they see as a communistic method by which workers get things like decent wages and conditions which prevent the shareholders and management becoming as wealthy as they should. In the US, trade unions are identified as being in the pockets of organised crime.

In the EU, where things are a little more balanced, unions have a little more respect and power.  But not, in Amazon with appears to be going through the sort of battles that Margaret Thatcher had with the coal miners in the 1980s.

Workers at German warehouses of online retailer Amazon.com took strike action again on Monday as labour union Verdi pressed its demands in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.

Verdi said in a statement it had called out workers to strike at distribution centers in Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Graben and Rheinberg. Verdi had in June staged walkouts at three of those sites.

Amazon hires 9,000 warehouse staff at nine distribution centers in Germany, its second-biggest market behind the United States, plus 14,000 seasonal workers.

Verdi wants Amazon to raise pay for workers at its distribution centres in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across the mail order and retail industry in Germany and has organised several stoppages over the past year.

Amazon insists that its warehouse staff are logistics workers and says they receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.