The alarming dissatisfaction of IT SMEs with German digital policy is an unmistakable wake-up call for urgently needed reforms. The traffic light government should act now at the latest. A comment.
A current survey by the Bundesverband IT-Mittelstand eV (BITMi) ruthlessly reveals how deeply the dissatisfaction of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is anchored in the German digital economy. The fact that a full 90 percent of those surveyed expressed negative opinions about current digital policy illustrates the gaping gap between industry expectations and previous political performance.
Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) likes to say that record investments are planned in the area of digitalization in the coming years, but nothing is noticeable. On the contrary. It was only in the summer that a report made the rounds that drastic savings were planned, especially in the area of digital administration.
The challenge of digital sovereignty
But it’s not just about savings, as the survey shows. The frightening dependence on non-European technology giants is an alarming signal for many companies. The concern that Europe’s digital future is under the control of other global powers should also be taken seriously by politicians. In a world increasingly dominated by technology, we cannot afford to remain passive and let others take the wheel.
Countries like Estonia have made impressive progress in digitalization by putting e-government initiatives and digital innovations at the top of their policy agenda. The integration of digital technologies in the public and private sectors has improved the efficiency, accessibility and quality of services. And even if a country like Estonia cannot be compared with Germany, we should still take it as an example.
Digital policy must be given a higher priority in Germany
A strategic realignment in digital policy is necessary to promote an agile, adaptive and innovative German digital economy. This begins with a comprehensive modernization of the administration. We need e-government that is characterized by user-friendliness, efficiency and transparency. Such progress will not only improve public services but also increase trust in authorities.
The expansion of the digital infrastructure is just as urgent. The provision of fast and reliable internet in all parts of the country is the foundation on which Germany’s digital future is built. Comprehensive, high-performance fiber optic coverage is a catalyst for innovation, economic growth and, last but not least, social inclusion.
Especially when it comes to fiber optic expansion, the motto should not be, as is currently the case, “We only lay fiber optics where there is no fast internet yet,” but rather “We lay fiber optics everywhere, without exception.”
Digital education must have a permanent place in the curriculum
Last but not least, digital education must not be neglected because it is the cornerstone of our society.
Topics such as programming, artificial intelligence and media literacy must be reflected much more strongly in the curriculum. And of course, digitalization must also be reflected in the schools themselves. iPad classes and lessons with digital tools must be the rule and not the exception. If you consider that until a few years ago many teachers didn’t even have an email address, you shouldn’t be surprised that Germany can’t win a league in international comparison.
Digital policy: Action must be taken now
The serious dissatisfaction of medium-sized IT companies is more than just an alarm signal. It is an appeal for a profound revision and transformation of German digital policy. The clock is ticking and there is an urgent need to put Germany on the path to digital sovereignty and innovation. A comprehensive, targeted agenda is essential. This is the only way Germany can consolidate its position in the global digital landscape and take a leading role in shaping the digital future.