Competence. Networking. Action.

A look back at the 2016 Steinbeis Consulting Day and its focal topic: Business 4.0

Digital transformation across entire sectors of industry, the intensified convergence of key enabling technologies, and the increasing degree of networking being witnessed in markets and commerce – trends that are a central challenge to the effectiveness of any modern business. There is strong demand for more information on current trends and the skills profiles that companies and consultancies will now need to deal with. Around 300 visitors attended this year’s Steinbeis Consulting Day, which looked at the topic of Business 4.0 from a variety of angles. The event took part on June 29, 2016 at the Haus der Wirtschaft (house of commerce) in Stuttgart.

At the event, speakers approached the topic from three angles. In the first session, the focus was on human resources. What does HR management look like in Business 4.0, what kinds of skills are needed, how can these be systematically nurtured, how can successful HR management safeguard these skills, and what role can company consulting play to this end? To examine these topics, Prof. Dr. Jutta Rump (the IBE Institute for Employment and Employability at Ludwigshafen on the Rhine University of Applied Sciences) gave a speech on “Employability Management: From HR Management to Network Competence Management,” providing a number of insights into the latest research findings.

In a speech by Prof. Dr. Armin Trost (Furtwangen University), these findings were contrasted with consulting practice. Trost suggested that diversity, freedom, and networked communication and collaboration are not just an essential feature of modern HR management, but that they are also a central task of the consulting business. Claudia Haney, director of division program management at K+S KALI GmbH then took part in a discussion on a live case with the Steinbeis consultants Prof. Dr. Arnd Gottschalk (Steinbeis Transfer Center for Human Resources and Organisations) and Dr. Sabine Horst (Steinbeis Consulting Center, Competences, Communication, Cultures), examining the current challenges facing change management stemming from the sometimes opposing interests of digital transformation and organizational development at K+S KALI GmbH.

The second session took a closer look at processes, examining how production processes and systems are changing in Business 4.0, the impact this has on the working world, and what kinds of concepts and recommendations are needed from business consultants. Prof. Dr. Heiner Lasi (Ferdinand Steinbeis Institute at the Steinbeis Foundation) examined these and other issues in his speech on Enterprise 4.0: The Challenges Placed by Production 4.0 on the Working World. There then followed another live case in which Horst Maywald (header of workstation systes at Elabo GmbH), Prof. Dr. Heiner Lasi, and Prof. Dr. Manfred Wehrheim (Steinbeis Consulting Center for Manufacturing Systems and Processes) discussed the issue of process optimization with and at Elabo GmbH, highlighting the special opportunities and challenges this poses for SMEs in their attempts to adapt, plus the nature of investments in networked production and organizational processes.

The keynote speech at the 2016 Steinbeis Consulting Day was given by Philipp Depiereux (etventure GmbH), who looked at Processes 4.0 – a Revolution in Working. Depiereux fundamentally challenged traditional forms of technological and organizational change, rattling the audience by hypothesizing that changing into a Business 4.0 will mean changing existing structures, working environments, organizational forms, processes, and business models in ways that are both fundamental and disruptive, especially through innovative startups and spin-offs. This assertion, and his belief that digital transformation has to be a  boardroom issue (due to the broad implications of the required decisions regarding structures and strategy), and that this requires a completely new mindset when it comes to working practices and the management culture, were discussed afterwards in detail in an interactive panel session, which involved a selection of experts, speakers, and especially members of the audience.


Excerpts of the speeches (in German) can be streamed online in the Steinbeis media library
by going to:

Dr. Michael Ortiz
Steinbeis Headquarters (Stuttgart)

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