EBS Universität and Siemens Advanta develop new continuing education program in the field of “Digital Transformation”
What is the significance of “Digital Transformation” in our living and working environment today? From your experience, why is it important to deal with these topics?
In the original sense, digitization is the conversion of analog formats into digital ones. Today, the term “digital transformation” is mostly used in the sense of changing society, economy, science and politics. Digitization is actually not a topic of the 21st century, but an unstoppable change, which in principle had its industrial origin in 1947 with the invention of the transistor. Today we take many things for granted that were unimaginable 20-30 years ago. Anyone who was on the road at the beginning of the 1990s and urgently needed to communicate something to someone else was forced to look for a telephone box. Nowadays, the younger generations often don’t even know what a phone booth is. Today we can be reached by mobile phones at any time and any place. With services such as WhatsApp, voice, photos, videos and other information can be shared in real-time. Or another example that many people will remember: In the 1990s, anyone traveling by car first had to obtain maps and carefully plan their route. Navigating through big cities without a passenger on your lap with the map on your lap was always pure stress back then. Today, we simply enter our destination into the navigation device and the device guides us on the fastest route, past traffic jams, to our destination. These are just two examples that show how digitalization has completely changed our lives over a period of 20-30 years. Digital change is a central task for our society, economy, science and politics. Digitization offers great potential, but it also brings new challenges and risks. Only those who actively engage with this change, or even shape it, will be able to cope with the future.
Society and technology are changing faster than ever before. What are the consequences for companies?
Everything that can be digitalized will be digitalized. Disruption - a phenomenon that describes the replacement of existing business models and technologies with innovative innovations - is one of the central challenges for companies in all industries. Faster innovation cycles, driven by digitization, drastic price reductions and political uncertainties are changing tomorrow’s markets. The new fast pace of life is increasingly presenting companies with challenges. Today’s customers are no longer automatically tomorrow’s customers. New competitors from other industries or upstream economic stages appear unexpectedly. Clear cause-and-effect relationships are difficult to determine, while the number of influencing parameters is constantly increasing. Companies must therefore always think in different directions and run through corresponding scenarios. Planning for the future and long-term strategies are increasingly difficult to control. In industry, only those companies that can best adapt to these changes will survive and be successful. The size of a company does not protect it from disruption. New players of the digital age can emerge from a garage company somewhere in the world. They will drive many of the future innovations and disruptions. Famous examples are Apple, Google or Amazon. The list speaks for itself and can be continued at will.
The department “Digital Transformation” at EBS Executive School is being established in close partnership with Siemens Advanta. Can you give an outlook on what special insights participants can expect to gain?
Siemens Advanta is a strategic business unit of Siemens that enables companies to tap into the digital future by accompanying them on their individual digitization journey from start to finish. With our program offerings, participants learn directly at the interface between scientific research and business practice. When designing the program, we were particularly concerned not only to illuminate the topic of “digitization” from a technological perspective but to convey the big picture of digitization. Experienced experts will provide the participants with insights from practical experience that relate highly relevant innovation, organizational and working principles of digitization.
The core of the curriculum of the new certificate program “Fundamentals of Digital Transformation” is to build an understanding of the central drivers of Digital Transformation and their effects on companies and individual work design. Where do you see the greatest benefit for program participants here?
In our university certificate program, participants learn how to successfully adapt to developments and even help shape them in the next step. Innovation management and product design in the digital world play a central role here. We bring participants closer to what they need to pay attention to and how they can create an advantage for themselves by handling data correctly. I see the greatest benefit for the participants in the fact that they get experience, insights and lessons learned from experts in the real world of a high-tech company, which cannot be read anywhere else. By embedding them in the continuing education concept of EBS Universität, participants experience a unique combination of the latest findings from research, teaching and business practice.
Can you show us from your practical experience in which business areas digitization will be crucial for success?
Digitization will be decisive for success in all areas of a company: in innovation, business models, digital processes, as well as in the digital working world. Covid-19 has shown just this especially with regard to a digital working world. From one day to the next, employees had to work in their home office. Processes, workshops, customer meetings had to work digitally. What nobody could imagine before, or where before there were always great concerns and discussions, suddenly worked. EBS Universität has successfully transferred its teaching programme into virtual space and is starting the new semester with a sophisticated hybrid teaching system. At Siemens, an innovative, cloud-based IT infrastructure enabled digital work to be implemented as quickly as possible. The companies’ IT departments have done a great job here. Siemens has had such good experience with this new way of working that mobile working is to be established as the new norm wherever it is reasonably feasible. This forward-looking work model relies on a results-oriented management style and on the personal responsibility of the employees instead of being present in the office. In order to be successful as a company, it is important to understand that digitalization is not just about acquiring the latest technologies. The digital transformation has to arrive and be lived in all areas of the company.
What insights do participants take back to their companies?
For EBS Universitäts continuing education concept the transfer into business practice is an essential factor. In small groups, participants learn techniques and tools that support them in their individual professional situations. We work together on case studies and living cases from our and the participants’ practice - both remotely and in face-to-face lectures on the university campus in the Rheingau region and at Siemens Advanta in Munich. In this way, we work together to ensure that students and their employers derive maximum benefit from the continuing education programme at EBS Universität.
A look into the future: How will EBS Universität expand the topic of “Digital Transformation” in continuing professional development?
The certificate programme “Fundamentals of Digital Transformation” is an ideal introduction to understand current technology trends and developments. For people who are planning or want to expand their careers in this field, we are currently creating the part-time programme “Master in Business with a specialization in Digital Transformation”. Students who have successfully completed the certificate program “Fundamentals of Digital Transformation” will receive 6 ECTS credits towards their Master’s degree.
What fascinates you personally most about the latest developments in digital transformation?
Digitalization offers us great opportunities. But we also have to critically examine new technologies and deal with them responsibly. “Big Brother is watching you” - I am fascinated that Georg Orwell’s novel “1984” from 1949 has not lost any of its topicality. What I mean by this is that we have great opportunities in digitization, but that we also have to take a critical and responsible look at the technologies in society, business, science and politics.
At the interface between a successful company and university research, Prof. Dr. Christoph Fuchs connects two worlds. As an Honorary Professor for Lifecycle Management at EBS Universität and Senior Principal at Siemens Advanta, the expert for product management and innovations works in the field of digital transformation and commutes between Munich and the EBS Campus in the Rheingau region.
The university certificate program “Fundamentals of Digital Transformation” starts online on October 30, 2020, and participants will meet for the first attendance phase in the Rheingau from November 2-3, 2020.