Research projects

Research projects

Supply Chain Management

When it comes to managing global supply chains, the IT links between the companies involved, as well as the physical flow of information between their systems, are becoming more and more important. Central significance is accruing to cyber-physical systems (CPS) as the technological basis for a logistical “Internet of Things.” Realizing this networking presents companies with resource-intensive challenges and requires innovations in commercial, technological, and IT areas. Even large companies are forced to expand their own corporate ecosystems in order to implement integration using the service portfolio of partners. This integration effects an increasing transformation of the company’s own business model with regard to new services that can generate new competitive advantages. The ecosystem idea has been implemented, for example, in maintenance management at Lufthansa Technik for RFID-based replacement part tracking or to secure air freight containers by means of telematic modules. To this end, Lufthansa Technik has established an ecosystem comprising over seven partners whose support led to the implementation of the necessary technologies and could be used to offer additional services to other airlines.

Given this background, the chair’s team answers the following questions in various research projects:

  • Which partner roles are important for a logistical “Internet of Things” based on cyber-physical systems, and how, thus, is a corporate ecosystem to be designed openly?
  • How can the current maturity level of integration with regard to cyber-physical systems be identified and necessary digitization measures be derived?
  • How can integration projects be planned in a structured manner and arising added value for a business case be quantified.
  • How can the current business model be transformed, taking increasing integration into account, in order to offer new services (added value) and remunerate partner roles?

Management and controlling

Digitization requires a comprehensive transformation of corporate business models. This can only take place based on sound digitization decisions. A reasonable basis for decisions must ensure, in particular, the improvement in corporate value creation that is generally a desired outcome of digitization. The digitization decision itself, as well as the associated decision process, has previously only been insufficiently researched. Improvement of the knowledge based surrounding this issue will allow sound recommendations to be made for business practice.

The research project is intended to provide practical benefits in several ways:

  • Improvement of our understanding of digitization decisions
  • Derivation of a suitable model for decision processes of this type
  • Measurement of decision-making power
  • Development of a generic process model for the transformation of business models

Consulting offerings (examples:

  • How great is my current decision-making power when it comes to making digitization decisions? (Measurement model and checklist with optimization recommendations)
  • How can digitization decisions be made in an expedient manner? (Support through coaching and/or workshops)
  • How are decision processes to be substantiated? (Goal formation, digitization planning, creation of business cases for digitization)
  • What advantages and disadvantages can be expected when implementing digitization decisions? (Derivation of meaningful summaries of arguments)
  • How can a company-specific process model for the transformation of an organization be designed? (Support by means of workshops and with the aid of an IT tool)

Marketing

By digitizing customer-oriented processes, companies can make quicker and more substantiated decisions with regard to the management of their customer base. This means that, ultimately, both the value supplied to the customer and the value obtained from the customer can be increased.
In principle, there is an incontestable value in customer relationships for companies, as they represent valuable resources whose potential needs to be tapped. This means that, among all management tasks, the management of customer relationships automatically takes on a great importance. The trend towards digitization means that there is potential for CRM, which, if it is unlocked correctly, can change both the effectiveness and the efficiency of existing customer management.
For example, a permanently updated customer database fed with information from various social networks, loyalty programs, and panels can form the basis for targeted approaches to consumers; this kind of targeting helps to prevent scatter losses and ultimately contributes to maximizing a company's own share of wallet.

Given this situation, the work carried out by the chair of marketing can be helpful in answering the following questions:

  • Which digitization potential exists with regard to the customer base and service offering and how can we identify and realize it?
  • What other characteristics are shared by customers who favor digital offerings?
  • Which digital technologies are relevant to the tasks outlined and what are the quantifiable effects of their use?

Marketing intelligence

The management of information about stakeholder groups, such as customers and competitors, is a key task for companies. Today, digitization offers companies a variety of options to collect and store information about different stakeholder groups in addition to traditional market research. In this respect, companies need to establish the organizational prerequisites to effectively and efficiently support the goal-oriented and systematic development of marketing intelligence. For example, companies face the challenge to transform “big data” into “smart data.” This problem means that typically not all of the data available is relevant to solve a problem, but subsets of the data that need to be purposefully combined to support decision-making processes.

Our subproject aims to answer the following questions:

  • What prerequisites should companies establish to realize the opportunities of digitization?
  • What are potential barriers that companies need to consider within this context?
  • How can the organizational prerequisites be operationalized and thus monitored?
  • What are the implications for corporate success?

Production and logistics

Digitization affects all areas of logistics: from procurement logistics to production and distribution logistics, as well as cross-company logistics as part of supply chain management. Innovative information and communication technologies ensure transparency at the physical level of value creation networks and allow operative real-time control and monitoring in production and logistics management. Comprehensive IT networking also offers new design and action options for strategic questions and thus coherent planning tasks. The effect of digitization on procurement can be seen, for example, in the growing spread of electronic procurement platforms. E-sourcing tools, particularly electronic auctions (“e-auctions”) promise a reduction in product and process costs but are believed to be incompatible with durable and partner-like supplier/buyer relations. Increased digitization can also be seen in the growing market share held by online mail-order businesses and is resulting in an increase in forward and reverse logistics. Within this framework, big data analytics to forecast the quantities involved can make use of collected data as a strategic resource.

Given this situation, the following questions arise. The chair can help companies to answer them.

  • What effect does digitization – particularly the use of e-auctions – have on procurement?
  • How should e-auctions be organized and used in order to tap into their potential without endangering the quality of the relationship with the companies in question?
  • How can the returns that are expected in distance selling be suitably modeled and which potential benefits can be derived from forecasts of this kind?
  • How and based on what processes can autonomous decision-making processes be put into place in production and logistics?

International accounting

Growth in the digitalization of business models makes the inclusion of intangible assets on company balance sheets increasingly relevant. Empirical studies concerning DAX listed companies have shown that nowadays intangible assets constitute around 30% of total non-current assets. In many cases, the capitalized goodwill even exceeds a company’s equity. On the one hand, intangible assets reveal information about the potential future success of a company; but on the other hand, in cases of liquidation many intangible assets are likely to have a value of zero. Consequently, the question of how value relevant intangible assets appear to investors becomes pertinent.

In the context of financing decisions it is, therefore, an issue of paramount importance for a company’s management to know the influence of intangible assets on external capital providers. Only this kind of information enables managers to employ earnings management potentials against the background of strategic and operative decisions.

Our research project will, therefore, shed light on the following questions:

  • How important is information about intangible assets to investors?
  • Do external parties interested in the balance sheet consider different categories of intangible assets to be of varying importance?
  • Does the capitalization of self-generated intangible assets influence the decisions of capital providers?
  • Does the digitalization of business models and consequently the increased significance of intangible assets effect external investors’ decisions?

Innovation management

Digital technologies confront innovation management in both large global companies as well as technology-intensive SMEs with several challenges. In particular, as ICT is embedded in various physical products, the convergence and integration of previously separated markets and industries plays a critical role. Noteworthy examples are car2car communication systems or smart grid solutions in the energy sector.

To manage digital innovations successfully, companies have to bring about knowledge exchange and creative collaboration across functional, hierarchical, industrial and interorganizational boundaries. In a nutshell, management of digital innovations is essentially collaboration management. In our studies we address several aspects of this important issue at various levels of analysis. For instance, at the invidiual level, we explore innovative and collaborative activities of key actors of digital innovations, such as Chief Information Officer and Chief Digital Officer. At the organizational level, we argue that the novel IT-based ecosystems do not only generate tremendous returns. To become successful, innovators have to overcome several barriers and manage essential tensions and conflicts of interests. Thus, we investigate conflicts and business risks associated with interfirm collaboration in innovation networks in new digital ecosystems.

In particular, the Research Center can help companies to address the following questions:

  • How can cross-industry innovations be managed in a digital context?
  • What contribution can CIOs make to digital innovations and thus to competitive advantages? How can the innovation activities of CIOs be supported by methods of social network analysis?
  • What risks and conflicts are associated with innovative digital ecosystems? How can these innovation barriers be identified and managed effectively?
  • What role is played by interfirm networks when it comes to developing and implementing digital innovations?