Delusions in Digitalization

For our managements, “digital transformation” currently is the number one panic topic. Whether banks, energy providers or car manufacturers, they all feel the urge to digitally transform. So, there is probably no other topic than digitalization on which more management conferences are currently held.

But what exactly should organizations do now? Consultants and keynote speakers sell sample solutions with simple and clear “messages” such as: “You need an app now!” Driven by their fear to miss the boat and by the observation that others are already doing more, organizations are searching for exactly these recipes and fuss with implementing them. An example is a whole range of car insurers who spent large sums of money to develop apps to record accidental damages. It later turned out that people have approximately one to two accidents in a life time. Those moments are extremely emotional, so the first impulse is not to look for a suitable app in the Appstore. 


As a scientist, who is often invited to digitalization events, I repeatedly stumble over such generalizations which do not withstand an academic examination. For instance, more transparency is supposed to lead to better visibility, although we know from science that this is true only to a very limited degree. Others claim that knowledge is available everywhere. Science taught us, however, that in fact the very opposite is the case.


In my presentation, I would like to talk about such “delusions in digitalization” and explain that hectic and the urge of imitating others are bad advisers. Digitalization is raising questions for every industry and each organization. The transition is tough and individual problems have to be solved. Those who try to put sample solutions into practice will fail and those who try to sell sample solutions are frauds. 



My name is Sascha Friesike. I am an academic researcher and work as an assistant professor at the VU University in Amsterdam where I am part of the KIN Center for DiIgital Innovation. I am also an associated researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, in Berlin.

In my research I mostly study how new things come to life. I explore this in a range of settings from scientific knowledge creation to 3D-printing or innovation and creativity. 

I hold a Ph.D. from the University of St.Gallen and a diploma in industrial engineering (Dipl.-Ing.) from the Technical University in Berlin. I was a researcher in Stanford at the Center for Design Research before coming to Berlin to co-found the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society.




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