Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl, DIGITALEUROPE’s Director-General, kicked off the event by presenting DIGITALEUROPE’s manifesto “A Stronger Digital Europe – Our call to action towards 2025”. This was followed by EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel’s keynote speech on the actions needed to make sure that Europe becomes a world leader in digital innovation in the near future.
Mr. Koch participated in the first panel of the morning on “Digital Ecosystems: How does Europe grow with Digital?” along with Harold Gruber, Head of Digital Infrastructure Division at the European Investment Bank; Lie Junius, Director of Public Policy at Google EU and Niel Hartvig, Founder of Umbraco, one of the winners of the Future Unicorn Award 2019. The discussion focused on the main bottlenecks as well as opportunities for small companies (independent businesses, SMEs and startups) to scale up and, “become the next European unicorns”.
Olaf Koch articulated his keynote around the daily challenges facing METRO’s customers in the gastronomy and small retail sector (e.g. burdening bureaucratic procedures, increasing labour costs or fiscal pressure) and how digitalisation can help them overcome such problems and make their business more efficient and, therefore, more successful. Because “at METRO our customers’ success is also our business”
Further, Mr. Koch explained that the main obstacles for small businesses to scale up are the high customer acquisition costs due to the intense competition and fragmentation existing within the hospitality industry. To reduce such costs and help customers to scale up, METRO launched DISH in October 2018, the first online platform for the hospitality industry, with the aim of creating an open community of restaurateurs. The platform, open also to third parties -such as startups that participate in METRO’s Accelerator Programme - offers restaurateurs the possibility to connect as well as digital tools to make their business operations more efficient by e.g. managing reservations online, organising shift plannings more effectively or processing orders and bills faster.
The discussion also addressed fundamental issues such as the need to facilitate access to venture capital or how to ensure fair competition between small companies and well-established international platforms.
The agenda of Masters of Digital for the rest of the day featured further panel discussions on digital manufacturing, sustainability, artificial intelligence and Brexit.
*More information about Masters of Digital can be found here.