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New: Digital at Scale Program

Training program for executives to be held in April and May 2018

In cooperation with McKinsey, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management is offering a new, English-language executive education program entitled “Digital at Scale - Steering Your Business into a Digital World.” Spanning four days, the event will provide executives with hands-on instruction to help them make active use of digitalization and improve the competitiveness of their respective companies.

The digital transformation of the economy and society as a whole has long since become more than a mere vision of the future, and yet many companies are still at the beginning of a long journey. New products and services, innovative business models and fast-growing new competitors are all accelerating developments in the market and generating increased competitive pressure. “Businesses must assess the digital potential of organizational structures, processes and product portfolios, and proactively initiate changes; otherwise, they will lose market share and watch as innovative companies pass them by,” explains Professor Dr. Stefan Spinler, chairholder of Logistics Management at WHU and an instructor in the four-day program.

The program takes a practical approach in all aspects of digitalization: Before the program begins, participants will rate their respective companies’ digital capabilities using the McKinsey Digital Quotient tool. Based on this, program participants can then zero in on the areas of greatest importance to each company. Throughout the program, there will also be a discussion of the ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the digital transformation.

In lectures WHU professors, associate faculty members and McKinsey partners will provide up-to-date insights into digitalization, from both a scientific and a management perspective. In keynote speeches, experienced experts will present ways in which digitalization can contribute to business success. In visits to the Digital Capability Center in Aachen and the Experience Studio in Berlin, participants will learn more about digitalization and the project known as “Industry 4.0.” They will apply their newfound knowledge to their own businesses and create a “digitalization roadmap” to specify how they can use digitalization in practice to improve the competitiveness of their companies.

This training program is designed particularly for board members and senior executives interested in learning more about the importance of the digital transformation for their company and the areas of application involved, and to executives with areas of responsibility in the digital realm. The four-day program is divided into two modules. Module 1 will be held on April 13 and 14 in Düsseldorf and Aachen; participants will travel to Berlin for the second module, which takes place May 4 and 5.

More information about the program

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First WHU Executive Education Program in Africa

From November 21-22, 2017, WHU Executive Education hosted its first program in Africa. The 2-day program in Zambia on “Entrepreneurial Finance” was led by WHU-Professor Dr. Serden Ozcan. The 36 participants included senior corporate executives, bank managers, senior government officers from pension funds, stock exchanges, and development agencies from Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Ghana.

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Digital transformation: A curse or a blessing?

Interview with WHU-Professor Stefan Spinler on digital transformation

Professor Stefan Spinler is director of the Kühne Institute for Logistics Management at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and heads the newly founded WHU Center for Digitalization. Together with McKinsey & Company, Stefan developed the new Executive Education program “Digital at Scale” that addresses why, how, and in which areas companies should digitally transform.

What is digital transformation in general?

Digital transformation describes the step of change which companies need to undertake to adjust their business model, strategy, and operations to our digitizing world. Digital transformation or, more broadly, technology-enabled transformation, will affect all areas of a company and a large portion of the employees.

Why is digital transformation necessary?

Digitalization offers a competitive advantage to companies that successfully digitally transform. For example, they may be able to offer better products with new features, better service, or simply reduce their costs. Companies that fail to digitally transform face the significant risk of losing market share and being left behind in the ‘old world’, both by competitors and by new market entrants.

What do you see as the biggest challenge in digitalization?

For many people, digitalization appears to be a buzzword. It is typically connected with different megatrends like Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, smart cities, self-driving cars, and new techniques for data gathering and analysis. However, the implications of digitalization are different for every company. A medium-sized producer of machines will need to take very different steps compared to a DAX 30 bank or insurance company. The challenge in digitalization is to identify and successfully implement the aspects of digitalization that actually benefit a company. Many companies see this as a significant challenge. Therefore, we designed a new Executive Education Program to help companies to digitally transform.

Many see a huge potential and a vast number of new opportunities in digitalization. On the downside, many fear and demonize it. Is digitalization a curse or a blessing?

It is true that digitalization brings great economic and social opportunities, but there are also some threats linked to digitalization. One imminent threat are cyber attacks and data protection of customers and companies in general. Both policymakers and companies need to find the right measures against these threats. Along similar lines, ownership of data is an important issue that needs to be addressed to introduce data-enabled services. A more distant threat is the dystopia that machines one day will rule humankind. While this threat is highly controversial among different people, most experts agree that artificial intelligence will have a much larger impact on our lives than it currently has.

In which industries do you see the highest potential and the greatest danger?

It is difficult to pinpoint single industries as digitalization affects all industries. While some industries like e-commerce and consumer electronics were affected earlier, other industries have started to digitally transform as well. From our discussions with companies, we see that there are still many opportunities that can be captured with digitalization. Within each industry, companies need to realize that digitalization is not an option, but a mandatory move to be able to compete successfully.

What does digital transformation actually mean for companies?

Digitalization is a huge opportunity for all business processes (or even business units) lying ahead. What a digital transformation includes is actually different for every company. Here are some aspects that it may include:

  • Potential reinvention of entire business process, including cutting the number of steps required, reducing the number of documents to be handled, and developing automated decision making
  • Re-design of operating models, organizational structures, skills, and roles (e.g., Data scientist, UX Designer) to match the reinvented processes
  • Adjusting and re-building data models to enable the organization for automated data collection, better decision-making, performance tracking, and customer insights (Example: Real-time reports and dashboards on digital-process performance permit managers to address problems before they become critical)

Can you provide a success story?

There are many examples where companies successfully transform. Let’s take insurance companies as an example. Facing the customer, new, data-driven policies and tariffs have been implemented in health and auto insurance that cater to the insured person’s individual risk profile. It becomes possible to insure, say, single ski trips rather than taking out insurance over a longer timeframe. In the “back-end”, digital processes enable automation of settlement of a significant share of, as yet, simple claims. So indeed, digitalization affects companies’ entire value chains.

Thank you for the interesting insights into digital transformation and what it means for companies!


Digital at Scale – Steering Your Business into a Digital World Program

WHU and McKinsey & Company offer the “Digital at Scale Program” which is designed for managers and executives in digital roles or executives with roles in commercial, operations, or HR functions who want to transform their business unit/function. The 4-day program addresses why, how and in which areas companies should digitally transform.

The Executive Education Program will take place in April and May 2018.

Learn more about the program

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Anything can be trained: Core competencies of the CEO of tomorrow

Anything can be trained: Core competencies of the CEO of tomorrow

Nowadays, executives are facing a multitude of challenges: How can their organization be and stay successful in times of globalized economies? How does digital transformation affect their industry, their company? Is their business model endangered to be turned upside down by disruptive innovation? And: How can top talent be attracted and retained – a generation Y workforce that is not only asking for flexibility but is also keen on knowing how the organization they are working for “gives back to society”?

A current article in the German HR magazine “Personalführung 12/2017-1/2018” discusses the core competencies of future CEOs and shows how Executive Education programs can support these competencies. WHU´s General Management Plus Program is featured in the article.

Download article.

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Successful first run of WHU Advanced Management Program

From November 6 - 10, 2017 the first Advanced Management Program (AMP) took place at WHU Campus Düsseldorf. Twenty senior professionals with highly diverse industry backgrounds embarked on a learning expedition that tracked them from tough lessons learned as a board member to matters of corporate transformation and inspirational leadership.

The AMP participants, in particular, valued the exceptional team of facilitators from both academia and the corporate world: Whereas Prof. Karl-Ludwig Kley, former CEO of Merck KGaA and honorary professor of WHU talked about his “Lessons learned as a CEO”, Matthias Hartmann, former CEO of GfK gave insights into successes and failures in digital transformation. WHU faculty member Prof. Jochen Menges contributed insights into emotional intelligence. WHU’s Prof. Miriam Müthel encouraged participants to learn from failure. Creativity and agility were at the core of Prof. Christoph Hienerth’s sessions on visual thinking and business development.

“During this very intense 5-day program, the participants benefit from different teaching approaches, including peer-to-peer coaching, reflecting teams, and acting. Next to growing personally as an executive leader and acquiring new insights into relevant topics, networking is one of the key assets of the AMP”, says Dr. Rebecca Winkelmann, Managing Director Executive Education at WHU.

The next AMP will take place from October 22-26, 2018 in Düsseldorf.

More information

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