Top managers at leading DAX companies are back at school and raising their hands to answer teacher’s questions: “What’s the price of a bitcoin?” Cornelia Szauer, the head of digital affairs at Philips, pipes up with the correct answer and secures her prize. These students are attending a three-day seminar entitled “Update Digital” at Hamburg’s Good School with particular emphasis on data science, block chains, brand safety, next commerce, new work, innovation advertising, updates on China and responsive innovation. Diligent students get surprises or prizes for their efforts during “marshmallow” games and other exercises in relaxing.
Next big thing – managers seeking input
Simone Ashoff, Director of the Good School, leans on her desk and says: “I’m your director for the next three days.” Disciplined and intent but without actually wielding a cane, her severity is attuned to her students’ zeal. As the digital era moves ahead, more and more executives are coming under time pressure in terms of digitalisation. The seminar plunges these keen students into the deep end as they endeavour to upgrade their knowledge of the latest digital innovations or so-called “hot shit” in the sector.
Backlog in digitalisation
Seminars, workshops, digital laboratories focusing on digitalisation are booming. More and more companies are noticing the need to catch up and stay apace. This year, three-quarters of all CIOs compared to slightly over half in 2016 are tasked with pushing digitalisation ahead, according to a study by Capgemini.
Around 82 per cent of the CIOs interviewed expect digitalisation to change business models, which will lead to disruptive change in their sectors. Naturally, companies do not want to lose out by reacting too late. Yet, some 73 per cent of CIOs have noted problems with digitalisation.
Drones, artificial intelligence, virtual reality
The cards are already on the tables in terms of the global economy. Germany is going empty-handed, according to expert Christoph Bornschein who noted the digital trade deficit of over EUR 30 billion towards the U.S.
Representatives of firms and agencies like Nerd Industries are highlighting contemporary innovations and what is likely to be crucial in future. The half-life period of tools is being lowered and shorter product cycles are emerging. Innovations are becoming outdated faster or have been further developed. According to the Gartner Hype Cycle, drones are dipping on attention spans for technical innovations unlike robots and artificial intelligence that are stirring up interest.
Need for information about bitcoins and block chains
Ashoff has taught digital seminars in Hamburg’s trendy Schanzenviertel since 2009. She noticed the needs of the internet business earlier than most. Nowadays, her clients include leading companies such as IKEA, Telekom, L’Oreal and the European Central Bank.
At the close of the seminar, her students appear tired but excited. Most have zoned in on the most business relevant issues. Asked about his experience, Fabian Kienbaum, said: “The seminar has lived up to my expectations in many ways over the past three days. I wanted a better understanding of how data-driven business models can change our consulting business and corporate added value. Apart from that, the 'troops’ were cool and the location very attractive.”
“The issue of bots is important to us,” said Szauer who won an Amazon Alexa for her diligence. Various, future-looking issues dealt with during the seminar will flow into her team’s daily business.
Even harmless games like the “marshmallow challenge” have a message. During the game, in this case players i.e. DAX managers have to build a tower from uncooked spaghetti, sellotape and marshmallows. But the managers often lose the game. Children are often better players as they just go ahead, try out something, make a mistake and start all over again – fearlessly and innovatively. Many a lesson can be learned from them.