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Digital sovereignty as an export hit made in Germany

Trade fair stand in the background, Schwarz Digits employees in the foreground

The Schwarz Digits team at SCCON 2023 Photo: Schwarz Digits

Schwarz Digits was one of the last exhibitors at the Smart Country Convention 2023 to secure a place in hub27 - just a few weeks after the Schwarz Group's new division was launched on the market. However, many trade visitors were already aware of the new offering, says Co-CEO Christian Müller: "Although we have only officially been on the market as Schwarz Digits since the middle of this year, we are already very well known. We took part in SCCON for the first time - the more than 15,000 participants and the extensive programme provided an ideal introduction. The trade fair also provided a good opportunity to draw attention to our products and services. And the interest was great. We held many discussions with potential customers as well as with partners and representatives from politics and administration. We also received a lot of positive feedback and suggestions, which we are now analysing after the trade fair."

Digital independence beyond your own business

The idea for "Schwarz Digits" did not come about overnight: "The events of recent years have shown how important digital independence and cyber security are for every company," says Müller. "We are pursuing a clear goal: to promote digital sovereignty for Germany and Europe. To achieve this, we offer cloud services, artificial intelligence and cyber security from a single source and in accordance with German standards. In short: digital sovereignty as an export hit made in Germany."

The expertise for this comes from within the company, Müller emphasises: "We have always used our strong IT to ensure that our checkout systems are up and running, that our shops are supplied with food and that they open on time every morning - all over the world. We are therefore very familiar with extensive IT structures and digitalisation, and we have a long history of IT expertise." A total of 7,500 employees work in the various areas of "Schwarz Digits" to provide digital solutions to companies in the SME and public administration sectors.

Secure cloud solution from the discounter

"Cybercrime has become an omnipresent threat worldwide. In the German economy alone, damage totalling more than 203 billion euros is caused every year. Companies of all sizes, operators of critical infrastructures and public administrations are constantly at risk. Be it through possible ransomware attacks, attacks on websites and means of communication as well as targeted attacks on vulnerabilities in IT products," says Müller. "With the acquisition of XM Cyber, we have responded systematically to the increasing cyber threat situation. Customers and partners enjoy a significant security advantage thanks to the unique protection offered by this technology. We have also set up our own cloud with STACKIT. Initially only used internally to fulfil our claim to digital sovereignty, the EU-secure STACKIT cloud solution, which is hosted exclusively in Germany, has also been available to companies and public administrations as a high-performance cloud and colocation infrastructure since March 2022. The high demand shows how long overdue such an offering was in Germany."

"We are the most critical customer ourselves"

Before "Schwarz Digits" launches new products on the market, they are tested in-house. Müller says only half-jokingly that they themselves are the most critical customer of their work: "We only offer IT solutions externally if they work stably for our own extensive and complex IT infrastructure and create real added value." This was the case, for example, with the STACKIT Cloud or the cyber security offering XM Cyber. "Digital sovereignty plays a central role in all our decisions in order to minimise dependencies on companies from the US or Asia."

Müller did not yet want to reveal any specific steps as to how "Schwarz Digits" will proceed in 2024. When asked what is next, he said: "Taking one step at a time. Which for us means successfully picking up where we left off with Schwarz Digits 2023."

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