This year's Think Change knowledge forum with the topic “Connect to act” took place on May 11th, 2017 in the Zeche Zollverein in Essen. It was all about “networking” and our speakers highlighted different aspects of the same phenomenon.

Review & Impressions

Connectivity affects every area of our lives: our homes and cars are becoming smarter and smarter, apps and digital services are an integral part of our everyday lives, we are networked on all sides and constantly accessible. Big data, cloud computing, automation or the Internet of Things are trends in the age of digitalisation that offer value creation potential and are already a reality today. All the contributions on this day therefore had one thing in common: the realisation that we, as individuals and as companies, should face these challenges openly and in a learning manner. The future will be exciting!

Prof. Dr. Ing. Peter Burggräf – Digital Native Company

In his keynote "Digital Native Company", Prof. Dr. Ing.Peter Burggräf shows how we as a society can advance in the field of tension between digitization and increasing networking. According to Prof. Burggräf, we are living in an industrial revolution that functions as a kind of bridging technology and is largely determined by collaboration, increased cooperation and automation. Young, digitally native companies that operate with modern software and technology have one decisive advantage: They can try things out, quickly adapt to changing requirements and set and drive trends. Digital game changers are radically changing their industries, the networking factor favors their business models: services and systems can be offered and updated regardless of location, the further development of the product takes place practically while it is in use. Networking is therefore the pioneer for any future innovation, anyone who wants to experience change should consider it and think beyond known structures.

Veselin Kozhuharov - The peer-to-peer future of the energy industry: Will electricity soon be delivered like data packets on the Internet?

Change of scene: "The peer-to-peer future of the energy industry: Will electricity soon be delivered like data packets on the Internet?" Veselin Kozhuharov discussed the three major trends in the energy industry with us: decarbonization, decentralization and digitization. The federal government has set the goal of being CO2 neutral by 2050. In order to achieve this, the individual sectors of energy generation - heat generation, transport and electricity generation - must be networked with one another. While energy was previously obtained by certain providers in large power plants, traded on the stock exchange and passed on to the consumer drop-down via the distribution network, today energy can already be generated decentralized, e.g. in one's own home, and passed on peer-to-peer via blockchain technologies. Digitization appears here as a driver of innovation. Old business models are eroding and young start-ups with innovative ideas are entering the market. In the highly complex world of the energy industry, a lot is already technically possible, which is why both young providers and large corporations are investing in various test projects that are intended to pave the way for the future. The customer himself wants simple, functioning products with all possibilities - so it is not important to be the first, but to enable innovation in good time.

Prof. Dr. Maik Eisenbeiß - The networking of online and offline marketing

Prof. Dr. Maik Eisenbeiß discussed in his contribution "The networking of online and offline marketing" with us the opportunities and challenges that a combination of both marketing strategies creates. Using his practical studies, he impressively demonstrated how a targeted cross-channel network can create a convincing customer experience. Today, customers are always networked, well informed and come to a purchase decision in different ways: for them there is no separation between digital and analog shopping worlds. A successful marketing strategy therefore takes a holistic view of the customer and picks them up at various touchpoints. It is not a matter of forcing every channel to be used, but rather to achieve a meaningful combination of the possibilities: because whether you buy online or offline is not decisive, it is important that you buy and therefore there is only one marketing - one namely, that supports this decision.

Michael Ochtrop & Stephan Franke - Fear, neuronal plasticity and microservices or why the window sings in the tree

"Fear, neuronal plasticity and microservices or why the window in the tree sings": Our colleagues Michael Ochtrop and Stephan Franke then explored the question of how we as companies can cope with rapid change and become a learning organisation that welcomes change. Two perspectives are important here: On the one hand, there is the human being and the question of why our brain often initially reacts to new things with fear. Often this fear is not of the new situation itself, but of not being able to learn quickly enough. On the other hand, modern technology offers possibilities to make such learning processes less stressful and to support them. So-called microservices, for example, favour the networking of individual services and detached business processes from previously used powerful core applications. New methods and ways of working also help people to reorganise themselves. In addition to the natural fear of change, it is therefore above all the curiosity in us humans that drives us to change again and again. Now the question remains: "Why does the window in the tree sing?" Of course, not at all, but the bird would hardly have aroused your curiosity 😉 .

Matteo Cagnazzo - Anonymity on the Internet - Hacker Culture or Something for Everyone?

The final lecture was "Anonymity on the internet - hacker culture or something for everyone?" by Matteo Cagnazzo. He took us to the dark side of the internet and gave us an entertaining and informative entry into the darknet. Using selected examples, he made it clear that, in addition to criminal activities, political anonymity also plays a role here as protection against persecution. Not everything on the Darknet is illegal: many users want anonymity, especially in countries and societies where the individual's privacy and freedom of speech are threatened or restricted. Here, the darknet acts as a portal to the "free" world and makes it possible to keep in touch and transmit information securely. Furthermore, a growing capitalisation in the area of crypto currencies, which serve as a means of payment here, can be observed in recent years. The increasing importance of e.g., Bitcoins as a real currency could open further possibilities of use in the future. The first serious companies are already expanding into this net sphere with targeted shops. Hence, it is worthwhile to observe the darknet even as a private person and to be aware of any trends and possible uses - there is something for everyone.

After the individual contributions, exciting discussions and further questions arose, which were further pursued in a relaxed atmosphere, first in the round thickener of the Zeche Zollverein and finally at a joint dinner with a spectacular view in the Erich Brost Pavilion.