PDAgroup’s “Digital Transformation Advisors,” Astrid Menzl and Otto Schell, moderated an interactive discussion with a wide variety of digital disrupters and transformational figures at CeBIT.

Imagining and exploring the subject of digital transformation without limits – This was the goal of the special event that took place at this year’s CeBIT, which was organized at the convention by the German-speaking SAP User Group e.V. (DSAG). In three rounds, led by DSAG’s chairman Otto Schell and moderated by Astrid Menzl, the duo from PDAgroup exchanged their ideas with other experts from countless fields on March 22, 2017 in Hannover, Germany. Schell and Menzl specifically set out not to address the issue of digitization in the typical way, but rather indirectly to elicit new perspectives on the topic.

CDO & Co. Reloaded – Playing New Roles?

What do we mean by the term Internet of Things and where will this lead us in the future? Miika Kuoppamäki, managing director of Qentinel GmbH, raised this question. It is essential, from his point of view, to integrate all the participants of a company and not just to allow one specific group to control everything. It is necessary to allow openness and cooperation as well as to provide examples of successes within the digital ecosystem. But which types of jobs will be needed in the future?

Reimar Hartmann, managing director of digitization at Dr. Fuchs Senior Advisors GmbH, suggested which characteristics and assets are becoming increasingly important: an innovative and customer-oriented mindset, openness for collaboration, understanding the company’s core business, awareness of risks and responsibilities, the character of creators, motivators and drivers, along with an understanding and interest in new technologies. He described the aspects of both an attacker and defender within each person, similar to a “Liberos” soccer player, who has the whole playing field in view and intervenes when necessary. However, the digital transformation can only be sustainable and successful if it is incorporated into the entire DNA of a company. The leadership must be more and more able to address the topic – only then can further progress be made.

Source: Pixabay

Source: Pixabay

Value Creation with AI and Collaboration

Making executives and employees the drivers of change is Mr. Dr. Jochen Holzwarths’ vision. He also sees mindsets and customers’ perceptions as particularly vital. Controlling and reporting will also play an equally pivotal role in the digital transformation. Through reporting, knowledge can be managed and used to make decisions within the company about what needs to be digitized and whether to focus more on products, processes or competitive advantages. His tip is to let young people, above all, play an active role in this process.

The role of the millennials was also the main area of focus for Volker Dahm & Thomas Fleck, both from Netresearch GmbH & Co. KG. How do companies best work with Millennials who tend to be less driven by more money and bonuses and place more importance on their self-development and work-life balance? To what extent can companies leverage the knowledge of both the experienced long-term employees and the millennials in the digital transformation? Typically, millennials are attributed to cross-disciplinary roles, because they are often agile, quick thinkers and workers who can easily think outside of the box. Combined with the experience and knowledge of experienced staff, this can be very valuable for a successful digital transformation can help break out of old thought patterns. Existing employees must have their fears alleviated and be reassured that their jobs will not be replaced by digitization. This can be done by creating an understanding that new, sometimes higher-quality tasks will be needed, thus making digitization perceived as supporting their roles. The concept of networking is becoming especially more important as well as establishing rules about who will take on what role in the network, due to competitive behavior within the network, itself.

New Values and Customer Orientation in the Ecosystem

In the last discussion, social architecture in the IoT era was examined. Who will determine the rules of the game in the future? Prof. Dr. Sabine Baumann from Jade University of Applied Sciences touched on intelligent products and the effects of platform markets and then posed the following questions to the experts in the room: To what extent, for example, can dynamic networks be imagined via an ERP? Where does the real-time data come from and who owns it?

The young speakers Greta Schnell & Diana Gummer, both from BOLDY GO INDUSTRIES GmbH, have their own understanding of a social architecture in the digital transformation. They presented how they transformed themselves into a consulting firm. Only after a company is aware of its own vision is it important for it to plan and take the next steps. However, there is no single “roadmap” for doing so. In addition to many possible visions for companies, there are also many possible paths that they can take. A mind map can be used to visualize the extent of a potential vision. This, however, requires courage and creativity. Having a corporate culture that welcomes failures as new opportunities is also particularly helpful so that employees will not be afraid to try out new things and quickly learn from their mistakes.

Source: Pressfoto/Freepik

Source: Pressfoto/Freepik

This special event at CeBIT was a complete success! Following the insightful presentations, a large number of participants joined in on stimulating discussions where the words neither “industry 4.0” or “digital transformation” were heard nor were technical facts and new technologies mentioned. The focus was on leadership and management issues, people such as employees and customers, and above all social architecture and organizational models, as well as networks and collaboration. During the breaks and after the event there were many opportunities to meet new faces, as well as connect with institutions such as the Diplomatic Council, and to continue to exchange ideas on the topics discussed. Initially conceived of as a spontaneous idea froms Otto Schell, who is also a Digital Transformation Advisor at PDAgroup, the event developed into the meeting of an “alliance of digital disrupters and transformational figures.” We are looking forward to hosting events related to this one in the future in Innsbruck.


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