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Interview with Ivo Furrer, president of digitalswitzerland

digitalswitzerland wants to forge ahead with digitisation in Switzerland. More than 130 prominent members, such as ABB, BMW, Google, IBM, the Swiss Post or Swisscom, now belong to the landmark initiative. At the end of 2018, Ivo Furrer assumed the post as president of digitalswitzerland. We talked with him about digitalswitzerland and the digitisation.

The landmark initiative, digitalswitzerland, was founded in 2015 and consists of more than 130 prominent members from industry, the public sector, and science, which have made it their goal to form Switzerland into a leading global digital innovation hub. Now, Ivo Furrer took over the post of president of digitalswitzerland and is therefore replacing his predecessor, Christian Wenger. Between 2008 and 2017, Ivo Furrer led Swiss Life Schweiz as CEO. Prior to that, he worked at the Zurich and Winterthur Insurance Group as well as at Credit Suisse. He is still active on the supervisory board of Liechtenstein Financial Market Supervisory Authority and sits on the administrative board of Julius Bär, Helvetia, responsibility, and Inventx. We met with him for an interview.

Mr Furrer, what fascinates you about this job?

I am fascinated by the fact that with digitalswitzerland as the actual landmark initiative – with supporters from industry, universities and colleges, the federal government and cantons, as well as various interest groups – we want to improve the requirements and framework conditions in Switzerland and support the various players in the digital environment – from startups to large companies – with targeted initiatives. Ultimately, the citizens of this country, whether as companies, managers or employees, should recognise digitisation as an opportunity in order to benefit from it.

Why did you become interested in the position as president of digitalswitzerland?

I was a founding member of digitalswitzerland and have always advocated the objectives and mission of the organisation to develop Switzerland into a hub for digital innovation with global significance. In addition, it is fascinating to follow – indeed to shape to some extent – the latest technologies, social and political trends surrounding digitisation and to support the cause of large, medium-sized, and small businesses with young people through the office.

What would you like to achieve in this position in the next three years?

As a team, we want to continue to strengthen the position of the association all around digitalswitzerland – through the growth of the members, in large corporations, but also in the area of small and medium-sized businesses, as well as through the support of startups and “occupation” of relevant topics in diverse industry groups, from finance to technology. The Digital Day as an absolute “flagship project” should be able to be expanded far beyond the whole of Switzerland and relevantly appreciated by the general public.

What is your favourite app?             

I have a few favourites apps – as a “weather freak”, I like Weather Pro and the Landi app, but I really can no longer imagine by life without Netflix or Spotify as well. I communicate frequently and extensively with Whatsapp (in various defined groups), and finally, I think Google Maps is a great invention when I want to run or drive a route or towards a destination somewhere. But these are just a few examples.

Thank you for the interview, Mr Furrer.

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