Digitalisation: Thinking beyond the screen
Executive Education / 25 November 2019
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Product Manager Professional & Executive Education
Shinu Sara Ottenburger is a product manager in Frankfurt School’s Professional & Executive Education department. She designs continuing education programmes relating to IT & Digitalisation.

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If there were such a thing as a competition for Buzzword of the Year, the term “digitalisation” – or increasingly, “digitisation” – would be showered with trophies. But while everyone talks about “digital transformation”, only a few people really know what it actually means. Most people associate the term “digitalisation” with IT and high tech. But if you think a little further outside the box and take a really good look at the innovatory potential of this transformation, you discover a surprisingly broad range of options. Quite apart from technical applications, they apply to a truly astonishing variety of activities.

Digitalisation is not just about technology

Buying new hardware for employees, developing apps to expand corporate portfolios… while these are starting points, they don’t touch the true core of digital transformation. The key concern here is to find new ways of offering customers the service they want – and increasingly, expect – in this day and age. And this means developing a modern mindset in your senior management team and, just as importantly, in your workforce. Digitalisation is an all-embracing transformation predicated on innovative products, services, processes and business models.

Keeping a close eye on the future

During the “Future of Work” conference held at Frankfurt School on November 12, 2019, Stefan Hentschel from Google Germany GmbH talked about Digital Leadership – that is, using innovation and corporate culture to engage with digital transformation. In his presentation, he explained that digitalisation is not simply a question of tweaking relatively minor processes, but about transforming the underlying order of things. In his view, you have to change the system and create a unique culture within your company. Senior management must be open to new ideas – above all, to suggestions by those working at the coalface, as opposed to ideas put forward by management. The best starting point is a clear vision of where the company should be heading. This should be pursued regardless of setbacks – to which the best response is to make appropriate, iterative adjustments. In Hentschel’s view, the first thing you should do is discard the belief that some sort of master plan exists for implementing digitalisation.

Culture = Behaviour

In his presentation, he quoted author Mark Twain: “The only person who likes change is a wet baby.” As this assertion illustrates, anyone attempting to develop the corporate culture required to drive forward digital transformation faces a major challenge and must first ensure that employees feel secure.

To prepare you for the challenges of digital transformation, we offer our Digital Business Advisor certification program. The programme comprises three modules, each of which focuses on a core element of digitalisation.

First module Perspective and Agility: Acknowledging digital transformation and taking agile action

Second moduleManaging Organisation Structures: Putting people first

Third moduleBusiness Model Development: Mastering digital transformation