EU referendum: what is the European Single Digital Market?
Much of the UK Brexit debate has centered on the European Single Market and how trade might look if the country was to vote to leave on June 23. However, in technology circles the Single Digital Market could be just as significant, but what exactly is it and how might companies benefit from it?
Centiro is a delivery management expert assisting businesses across Europe; at the moment many of its customers are gearing up for the EU Single Digital Market, set to be introduced at the end of 2016. We spoke to its CEO Niklas Hedin...
BRE: What is the European Single Digital Market?
NH: “The European Single Digital Market is an initiative looking to break down regulatory walls between the 28 national markets of Europe to a single one to encourage the adoption of products and services and contribute €415 billion per year to the European economy. The proposed Digital Single Market promises to provide better access for consumers of digital goods and services, fair pricing for products across all EU region and better connectivity for users when abroad. For the retail industry, this is set to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and a more level playing field for online retailers – one market with one online process.”
How can businesses across Europe benefit from this?
“The European Commission's digital scoreboard reports that 315 million Europeans use the internet daily, and 360 million each week - reflecting huge demand for online services. As such, there is a massive opportunity for businesses, especially in the retail sector, in Europe to access this single market and drive new revenues. However, in order to take full advantage of this opportunity, the first thing retailers must do is make sure they can bring in new suppliers quickly to meet international demand and take ownership of the last-mile customer experience. Working with a wider range of international carriers can allow retailers to become international brands in a matter of weeks. Traditionally, retailers have found it a challenge to quickly integrate new carriers due to technology constraints, but technology is helping to simplify this process. Cloud platforms are enabling them to get their delivery networks up and running in a matter of weeks, both at home and internationally, whilst at the same time giving them visibility and control over performance and cost.”
What would UK exit from the EU mean regarding the Single Digital Market?
“Exit from the EU would mean that UK retailers will have to deal with more complexity – for example, offering multiple prices and having to adhere to different consumer rights rules in different regions.”
Could UK companies still engage across Europe in the digital sphere?
“Yes and clearly many companies are doing this already, but this needs very clear insight into their supply chains to manage the complexity and avoid logistics headaches, and smaller businesses might not have the capability to manage this themselves without the right help.”
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GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”