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EADS CEO seeks IT industry help to speed up aviation innovation

Peter Sayer | March 5, 2013
But innovation speed mustn't come at the cost of aircraft safety, EADS CEO Tom Enders said at the Cebit opening ceremony.

The aerospace industry -- like many other industries -- needs to speed things up, he said: The innovation process must be revolutionized, without damaging the industry.

"We need to increase the speed of innovation, without compromising on safety."

To achieve that, he wants to see industries -- not just aerospace, but all processing industries -- sitting around a table with the IT industry to close the innovation gap.

Dieter Kempf, president of the German association for the high-tech industry Bitkom, spoke of a different kind of innovation revolution, one that is driving its customers to consume services rather than products, to share rather than to own. It's a trend the Cebit organizers have branded the "shareconomy."

"Do you know a young person that has a CD or record collection?" he asked. "Probably not. Such a collection was once the pride of generations of young music lovers. And today? Today they have a Spotify subscription, and listen to what they want, when they want, where they want."

He cited other examples of how IT is helping replace ownership with sharing, rental or shared ownership, including the replacement of the video cassette by streaming video services such as Hulu, Netflix and Watchever, and the rise of car-sharing services such as Car2Go.

Consumers are also influencing -- or becoming -- designers of products of all kinds, through the rise of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and product review sites that can quickly drive not just bad products but also bad companies out of the market, he said.

Enders spoke of one kind of wiring problem, but Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister of Education and Research, praised a project that seeks to put an end to another, that of finding the right cables to connect up an Internet-connected display wall. She presented the first of four Cebit innovation awards to Alexander Löffler, a researcher at the University of Saarland's Intel Visual Computing Institute, who accepted it on behalf of the developers of Display as a Service. Three other Cebit innovation awards will be presented later in the week.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded her speech with a plea for the IT industry not to forget older generations in its race to provide services to the younger generation:

"Remember that there are people who don't use the latest IT products every day. Write simple instructions. Make great demos. And don't use too many connectors and plugs," she said.

Cebit runs Tuesday through Saturday at the fairgrounds in Hanover, Germany.


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