“Turning data into knowledge” is how Prof. Hans-Joachim Bungartz, Dean of TUM’s Department of Informatics, sums up the idea behind the Endowed Professorship. Every day, an incredible volume of data is generated, covering everything from entries in medical databases through sensor readings to data from the Internet of Things. Analysts can identify patterns in this sea of digital information. And these patterns are increasingly being used for analyses and predictions in the worlds of science and business.
Bungartz highlights the potential of big data analytics with an example: the analysis of Twitter data could give a hint that a natural disaster such as an earthquake might be imminent - if large numbers of people notice that birds have stopped singing and then communicate this observation via twitter.
Connectivity among diverse data sources is particularly important here. Models based on individual or dependent data sources are often prone to error. Connecting multiple, independent sources can lead to much more accurate forecasts. The Endowed Professorship aims to develop new algorithms and programs capable of executing these kinds of analyses extremely quickly and accurately. These systems will also be capable of learning, allowing them to improve with every additional nugget of information.
Protecting data and privacy
“Data protection and privacy are also particularly important for us here at Allianz,” emphasizes Dr. Andreas Braun, Head of Global Data & Analytics at Allianz SE. “Data and analytics are increasingly moving into the spotlight, but so too is the secure, ethical and transparent management of sensitive data,” he adds. Allianz is creating new momentum in this field – also through the Endowed Professorship.
Dr. Christof Mascher, member of the Executive Board of Allianz SE, believes that digitization has huge potential for society: “To tap this potential, however, we need new technologies and above all highly skilled people. We are determined to close this gap, which is why we are supporting the new Professorship at TUM,” he adds.
New competence centers drive development in digitization
TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann expressed his delight at the new endowment: “Allianz has come to the right place – as TUM offers an unparalleled environment for the new Professorship. In our Department of Informatics alone, we have five Leibniz Prize winners and two recipients of Humboldt Professorships. Cross-disciplinary networking and liaising with the world of business reflects our entrepreneurial spirit in promoting TUM as a digital university,” adds President Herrmann.
Digitization is a high-profile, interdisciplinary research stronghold at TUM. Researchers at the university investigate key aspects of digital technologies – from the underlying mathematical principles of informatics through applications in areas such as bioinformatics to the impact of digitization on society. That is why TUM is also a key player in the new Zentrum Digitalisierung.Bayern (Digitalization Center Bavaria), which is based in Garching, near Munich.
Much work in this area is being driven in particular by business, as evidenced by the emergence of more and more corporate competence centers such as Allianz’s Global Data & Analytics department. The Endowed Professorship is an important milestone in TUM and Allianz’s partnership in the field of digitization.