News | Berlin, 11/18/2021

”Tech and Data Week 2021“: More Collaboration and a new ”Tech and Data”-Strategy at Bertelsmann

Close to 900 participants took part in the Bertelsmann internal "Tech & Data Week 2021" event held on November 9. - 11.09. Under the heading "The New Together,” it featured an extravaganza of exciting presentations, discussion panels, project insights, and even premieres, presented by more than 90 internal and external experts. Rolf Hellermann, Bertelsmann CFO and Chairman of the Tech & Data Alliance, presented the Group’s new Tech & Data strategy. The winners of the Innovation Contest were also announced.

Greater transparency and more exchange across the Group, better coordination on cross-divisional projects, concrete support for implementing important Tech & Data team projects – and details on Bertelsmann’s new “Tech & Data” strategy: In line with the event’s heading “The New Together,” the focus of “Tech & Data Week 2021” was on increased collaboration on Tech and Data topics at Bertelsmann. Broadcast live from Berlin, it was attended by close to 900 Bertelsmann experts from all divisions in 26 countries; a number of colleagues were on site at Bertelsmann’s representative office Unter den Linden 1 in Berlin, in compliance with 2G+ Covid rules. The event’s diverse program really offered something for everyone. Participants were treated to exciting keynotes, interesting sessions, informative talks, and instructive project reports from more than 90 external and internal speakers. Highlights included contributions by community expert Heidi Kalbe, bestselling author Hannah Fry, and Udacity CEO Gabe Dalporto, as well as a “Fireside Chat” with Microsoft CEO Judson Althoff. Rolf Hellermann, Bertelsmann’s CFO and Chairman of the Tech & Data Alliance at Bertelsmann, and Matthias Moeller, Bertelsmann’s Chief Information Officer and CEO of Arvato Systems Group, also attended the event and made frequent appearances on stage. “Winners Night,” when the winners of the Innovation Contest were announced, and the “Deep Dives” at the divisional marketplace ensured plenty of suspense.

Exciting projects from all divisions

Each day of the “Tech & Data Week” had its own thematic focus. On Day One, “Cross-Divisional Day,” the focus was on project insights in the form of a virtual marketplace hosted by the divisions. Peter Lipp, Head of Analytics at Bertelsmann Printing Group, and Rhys Nölke, Senior Vice President Tech & Data at Bertelsmann, introduced the day and presented the diverse projects. The day was rounded off with a presentation by Henriette Cramer, Head of Algorithmic Impact and Research Director at Spotify. Together with Daan Odijk from RTL Nederland, she spoke about the responsibility of using algorithms and the fair use of artificial intelligence in practice.

The ‘human element’ is essential

On Day Two, “Community Day,” Heidi Kalbe, Analytics Evangelist & Senior Consultant at Woodmark, as well as Hanna Fry, mathematician and Penguin Random House bestselling author followed-up on Day One with their keynotes. Using various practical examples, both emphasized that there can always be limitations in the analysis of data and that the human factor must be involved in decision-making despite all the technology. According to the corporate approach presented at "Tech & Data Week," Bertelsmann will therefore increasingly focus on a holistic approach for all "Tech & Data" communities, in which the many experts can interact and collaborate better, especially in a self-organized manner via a central platform. Another highlight and at the same time the conclusion of the second day was the "Winners Night". After the "Bertelsmann Future Leaders Team" was named the winner of the "Data Viz Challenge," three cross-divisional project teams won the "Bertelsmann Innovation Contest.

The new „Tech & Data“ strategy

On Day Three, “Summit Day,” the focus was on the Tech & Data strategy for Bertelsmann as a whole. Rolf Hellermann presented the new Tech & Data strategy with the four aspects “People,” “Platforms,” “Partners” and “Politics” as a further development of the Tech & Data agenda. The “People” aspect is essentially about bringing together the various communities in the Group to form a large Tech & Data Community.” Cross-divisional collaboration is to be further promoted and expanded, especially via the Bertelsmann Collaboration Platform, which can also be used to bring together groups, topics or formats. The platform is intended to serve as a vehicle for ultimately collaborating across divisions in a self-organized manner. Udacity CEO Gabe Dalporto impressively illustrated how massive the knowledge and training gaps could become in the next few years, especially in new technologies, if countermeasures are not taken quickly. This is where Udacity and Bertelsmann University come into play, for example by currently giving the topic of upskilling top priority.

The second strategic aspect is summarized under “Platforms.” The goal is to establish an integrated Tech & Data platform for exchange within the Group, so as to take advantage of the positive network effects through collaboration rather than having to keep reinventing the wheel in every division. The Bertelsmann Collaboration Platform is already very well positioned in this respect with more than 2,300 experts. On the other hand, the BeData team is working on a GDPR-compliant linking of data within the Group. As a first implementation step, the new data catalog, which was developed together with Microsoft, was presented at Tech & Data Week.

Intensifying the partnership with Microsoft

The third aspect of the strategy, “Partners,” revolves around a unified approach to Tech & Data partnerships. First and foremost, this means better sharing and strengthening the strong partnerships already in place with the major tech companies. As a first step in this direction, Bertelsmann and Microsoft have agreed on a comprehensive partnership for technological innovation. Both Bertelsmann and Microsoft are focusing on data-driven platforms and cloud-based solutions and are jointly further developing these. This will ultimately benefit the entire Tech & Data community. Another goal is to build further partnerships as required for the businesses – and always with independence in terms of the respective expertise and core businesses.

The final aspect of the Tech & Data Strategy deals with a unified approach in the area of “Politics”. In the future, the assessment is that it will be increasingly important to raise the voices together in the interests of the Group for greater commitment across Bertelsmann's markets and business. In this context, Katrin Gärtner, Senior Vice President Public Affairs at Bertelsmann, together with Tyson Barker from the German Council on Foreign Relations, explained how “tech geo-politics” has increasingly become a point of contention in international relations and how Europe, together with the United States, must find answers here in order to reconcile data transfer, data protection, and data use.

And finally, the new “Developers Blog” was launched during “Tech & Data Week”. And finally, the new “Developers Blog” was launched during “Tech & Data Week.” In future, employees will be able to use this tool to present their projects and “Tech & Data” topics externally via the Bertelsmann Collaboration Platform. The preliminary version is now available under this link  ; it will be further expanded in the next few months.