Dr. Jürgen Hernichel: Frankfurt – Europe’s digital hub is located in the Rhine-Main Area

The world meets in Frankfurt. The Hes­­sian metropolis on the Main river, which is also affectionately referred to as “Main­­hattan”, enjoys great international importance as a financial and economic centre, a trade fair town and a traffic hub. Not only is the strongest selling German stock exchange located here, but so is the European Central Bank and the “who is who” of the financial sector. Renowned international as well as na­­tional companies of all industries have offices in Frankfurt, and the connection to Germany and the world can be rated as very good thanks to the Frankfurt air­­port and well-developed transport routes. The immediate surroundings of the city also offer ideal business conditions: the Rhine-Main area with Frankfurt as its centre is one of the economically strong­­est regions in Europe.

The vast majority of all business transactions taking place in the region would be unimaginable without information and telecommunication technology (ICT). Hence it is no surprise that the full spec­­trum of the ICT industry is also represented in the region. Numerous industry giants from the software and hardware sector can be found here as well as lead­­ing IT service providers, IT consulting firms and telecommunications providers. With their innovations and services, they make a crucial contribution to the region’s future viability and sustainably strengthen the ICT location Frank­­furt­RhineMain. The conditions provided for their business activities are ideal. The vicinity to national as well as international customers and investors is just as appealing as the networking with re­­search institutions and universities, including the Rhine-Main-Neckar software cluster. The region is not only characterised by the good transport connection, but also provides an excellent ICT infrastructure. Examples of this are the extensive scope of the common Internet broadband technologies and the world’s largest Internet hub for the direct interconnection of IP networks, DE-CIX.

The initiative Digital Hub FrankfurtRhein­­Main e.V. is dedicated to expanding and reinforcing these location advantages. The intention is to shape the Frankfurt­RhineMain region into the most import­­ant digital hub in Europe. Represented by the Board, the initiative unites data centre operators, ICT specialists, financial, economic, location and technical experts, infrastructure providers, universities and science institutes.

The Chairman of the Board is Bernhard Pussel (Colt Technology Services); other members of the Board are Peter Kania (Wirtschaftsförderung Frankfurt) and Frank J. Zachmann (Equinix). Together the members of the initiative work on expanding the digital infrastructure, net­­working with each other and bundling their competencies in order to maintain and strengthen the region’s innovative power and competitiveness, while constantly keeping an eye on the current trends and challenges within the industry: cloud computing, big data, mobile business and IT security are the key topics that the specialists in the Frankfurt­Rhine­­Main region as well as their colleagues around the world are dealing with.

Colt_Jürgen_Hernichel-KopieThe author is the Executive Vice President at Colt Enterprise Services and CEO of Colt Technology Services GmbH. Previ­­ously, he was EVP of the Business Ser­­vices Unit, and was responsible for Colt’s Shared Service Centres. Before that, he was Man­­aging Director, Northern Region, and Man­­aging Director, Germany, for Colt. Prior to joining Colt, he worked for NASA in Cali­­fornia, USA, and Thyssen Handelsunion.

Flexible, efficient, low-cost and trouble-free – these are the requirements users have with regard to a modern digital infra­­structure. These benefits can be realised as part of cloud computing: all of the required IT services (for instance, infrastructures such as data storage or computing power), platforms or software can be accessed through the network. There is no need for companies to have available and manage the resources at a high cost; instead, they are able to access them when required and pay for them based on their usage. The respective service provider ensures the secure and trouble-free operation. Regarding the delivery model, a distinction is made between public cloud and private cloud, to which data and applications can be transferred based on their importance and sensitivity, for example. To counter the price pressure, IT service providers now have begun to offer so-called hybrid clouds, which use standardised interfaces for multiple private cloud solutions. The choice of the suitable solution is an individual one, but the consequences are the same for all industries: clear com­­petitive advantages through optimisation of the business processes, flexibility and cost savings.

New technologies and usage habits result in a dramatic increase of the data volume around the world. However, companies typically store relevant data in an un­­struc­­tured way, which makes its econom­ical usage nearly impossible. Big data is a term that refers to gathering and analysing information that is generated at a large scale from a variety of sources and that changes rapidly. The goal is to facilitate a more well-founded and quicker decision-making process for companies and thus allow them to operate in an in­­novative and competitive way. Companies that make optimum use of big data achieve transparency in the face of a growing flood of information, are able to tailor products and services more specifically to customer groups, react flexibly to problems and identify and tap into markets faster. However, potential is not exhausted just like that without any effort. On the contrary: the manage­ment has to become active by adapting the business processes and building knowledge within the company.

Colt_Rechenzentrum_2_300dpi-Kopie

The topic mobile business is already on the agenda of numerous companies. The expansion of the tech­­nical infrastructure as well as low-priced offers for mobile end devices and network connections are factors which companies of all industries use to intensify their external and internal mobile ex­­changes. Just like cloud computing and big data, this development places in­­creased requirements on IT security. Key topics in this context are access protection, data backup and destruction as well as data encryption. All of these aspects increase the dynamics and the complexity in the business environment. To be able to stand their ground, companies in the FrankfurtRhineMain region sooner or later will need to act and align their strategy in a forward-looking way.

The cooperation with spe­cialised service providers creates the best preconditions in this re­­spect. These service providers should be equipped with the corresponding know-­­how and expertise and ideally offer a wide range of services. If, on top of that, they have an infrastructure of their own, as is the case with Colt Technology Ser­­vices, this simplifies the provision and integration of customised solutions for IT, network and data centre services that reduce IT complexity. This frees up resources which can then be invested in the company’s core business. At the same time, the optimum digital infrastructure provides a reliable foundation which allows companies to act flexibly and efficiently and makes them a resilient competitor.