Bertolt Brecht and digital transformation

Joe Barkai

In my opening remarks at the Product Innovation Conference in Berlin, I talked about a famous Berliner, Bertolt Brecht. You might wonder what does the influential poet, playwright, and theatre director has to do with engineering, innovation and digital transformation?

One of the characters in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children ponders a question worthy of an engineering conference: “What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?”

But the motivation to mention Brecht in my opening remarks was another quotation: “Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.”

The inevitability of change

The outlook for the second half of this decade can be best characterised as rapid technology acceleration at times of economic and business uncertainty. Global politics, technology investments, and the positioning of leading companies, all play a significant role the early stages of transition into a new 21st-century economy that will be fueled by pervasive connectivity, distributed cloud-based computing, and smart, sensor-rich devices, says Joe Barkai, consultant, speaker, author and blogger.

The rapidly evolving, always-connected world, in which everything and everybody is connected, brings opportunities (and threats, depending on your point of view) and drive unprecedented levels of investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 technologies and business models.

In a 2015 McKinsey report, the consulting firm stated: “If policy makers and businesses get it right, linking the physical and digital worlds could generate up to $11.1 trillion a year in economic value by 2025.”

Bertolt Brecht

Unlike the previous industrial revolutions, whose impact was fully comprehended only decades later, today’s IoT discourse unearths important open questions and concerns about the impending economic and business model shifts, and the morphing of traditional business and technology boundaries.

As McKinsey’s analysts astutely point out in their report, the ability to harvest the promised fruits of IoT depend on both policy makers and businesses to “get it right.” The IoT community must continue to explore and understand the societal and ethical implications of these changes, such as the complete loss of privacy, and the increased automation that will shape the workforce of the future.

Embracing change

Change is inevitable. In a subsequent presentation at the conference, I discussed the economic value of uncertainty. I asked whether uncertainty and volatility represent a risk or an opportunity, and posited that companies planning on launching IoT-based solutions must recognise and leverage uncertainty and volatility rather than try to eliminate them.

Mentioning Brecht in the context of digital transformation and product innovation, drew attention and requests for the presentation’s slide. While the opening remarks were ad-libbed, here is a link to the formal presentation.

The author of this blog is Joe Barkai, consultant, speaker, author and blogger

It was first published on

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow


9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

Infineon and Rainforest Connection create real-time monitoring system to detect wildfires

Posted on: October 22, 2021

Munich and San Jose, California, 21 October, 2021 – Infineon Technologies AG a provider of semiconductors for mobility, energy efficiency and the IoT, announced a collaboration with Rainforest Connection (RFCx), a non-profit organisation that uses acoustic technology, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning to save the rainforests and monitor biodiversity.

Read more

Infineon simplifies secure IoT device-to-cloud authentication with CIRRENT Cloud ID service

Posted on: October 21, 2021

Munich, Germany. 21 October 2021 – Infineon Technologies AG launched CIRRENT Cloud ID, a service that automates cloud certificate provisioning and IoT device-to-cloud authentication. The easy-to-use service extends the chain of trust and makes tasks easier and more secure from chip-to-cloud, while lowering companies’ total cost of ownership. Cloud ID is ideal for cloud-connected product companies

Read more