On Wednesday, September 13, 2017, Professor Dr Stephan Reimelt, at the time President and CEO of GE Germany and Austria, visited Frankfurt School of Finance & Management to talk to students about the digital transformation and the implications for a global company such as General Electric (GE). About 100 students followed the invitation of Frankfurt School’s Career Services that had organised the event. The guest lecture wasn’t the first visit of Professor Reimelt to Frankfurt School, since his daughter graduated from the Business School in spring 2017.
Dr Heike Brost, Head of Degree Programmes & Executive Education at Frankfurt School, welcomed the students and Professor Reimelt. She introduced the German manager and said that she was looking forward to a lively discussion after the speech.
“We live in a technical time, that challenges the world and business models as we have known them for many years”, Stephan Reimelt started his talk. “Technology is getting more and more important in the economic and private world. Previous business models were based on selling products and assets, while in the digital world, business models focus on selling services. The value of Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, all companies that did not exist 30 years ago, is nowadays twice as large as the German DAX 30 companies. This example demonstrates that business models have changed and even large corporations are challenged. Therefore, GE as well as other companies had to reconsider its business model and adapt to the digital transformation. To predict what will happen in ten years’ time has become essential and therefore GE developed digital twins of their products. Through the digital twin concept, GE can anticipate the behaviour of its machines – which is a technological breakthrough, as it allows GE to move from a break-fix model to a predict-and-prevent services model”, he explained.
But digital transformation also entailed a cultural change, Stephan Reimelt emphasised. The Global challenges call for collaboration. Collaboration and communication were also amongst the reasons, why the Silicon Valley was successful, he explained. Developers communicated and shared ideas in order to accelerate.
At GE, the digital transformation is in progress, but Stephan Reimelt addressed to the students that young digital natives from all over the world, such as the students at Frankfurt School, had to challenge companies with their ideas. “You have to help us to change the world. Curiosity is one of the top values. So be curious”, he invited the students.
Stephan Reimelt’s talk was followed by a lively Q&A session with many questions.