Digitalization at WHU –

Leading the way in digital development and thinking.


How is digitalization
implemented at WHU?

Since the inception of WHU, breaking the mold and looking towards the future has been an integral part of the school’s pioneering attitude and identity. Alongside WHU’s key characteristics of performance, practical relevance, international exposure, and personal development, technology plays a key role in driving its position as a top German business school. At the forefront of trends, research, and developments, WHU ensures that it consistently contributes intellectually, in methodology, and to thought leadership focused on digital themes. WHU enriches face-to-face learning with digital means and tools to offer the best learning experience for students.

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Digitalization in action – The WHU digital experience as it happens.

WHU’s latest program prepares students to embrace skills beyond data to become the interface between business leaders and data experts

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New AI Tool LeanStartupAgent helps companies and founders to identify and evaluate possible innovation opportunities

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WHU Professor Jane Lê and Aylin Aslaner of Zoom discuss the effects of digitization on universities in a podcast featured by Handelsblatt, giving WHU as an example

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A new study analyzes the challenges and the potentials of volunteering in IT

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Joint workshop by WHU Foundation and Gold-Kraemer-Foundation

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WHU startup provides construction industry with innovative, digital solutions

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Statistical Office of RLP sees decrease in graduations at most universities

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Center & Labs

Cutting edge research –
Reacting to a rapidly changing digital environment.


What is meant by digitalization?

In its traditional sense, digitalization relates to the conversion of analogue values into digital formats. The digitalization of companies means that digital technologies allow the development of optimized or new processes, products, services, or even business models. This creates new revenue and value creation potential. However, the term digitalization is often used as a synonym for digital revolution, digital transformation, or digital disruption. 

"Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to transform a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities; it is the process of moving to a fully digitally enabled business." (Source: Professor Dr. Spinler, based on Gartner 2019)

Digitalization increasingly encompasses all areas of life and work. Thus, the digital transformation and digital changes we see within both society and the economy, but also in science and education, are now ever-present. In the 20th century, information technology (IT) was still used primarily for automation and optimization, modernizing the home and workplace. Computer networks and software products such as office programs and Enterprise Resource Planning systems were an important driver of digital change. At the beginning of the 21st century, disruptive technologies and innovative business models move in. Digitalization now stands for autonomy, flexibility, individuality, leading into the fourth industrial revolution, otherwise known as digital disruption or Enterprise 4.0.

The digitalization of the economy in particular, is bringing about fundamental changes: new ways of scaling and distributing resources, information, digital workplaces, or the fusion of the virtual world and reality to transform entire companies, sectors, and industries. At the same time, the producing industries are transformed by developments like Smart Factory concepts, robotics, digital process chains, Internet of Things (IoT), or 3D printing. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, and Cloud Computing also enable new ways and applications of data analytics. Through digital devices such as data glasses, virtual reality headsets or gesture control, also the world of meetings, training, and entertainment have been fundamentally changed and digitalized. Electronic purchasing and distribution platforms, social networking solutions or virtual customer profiles and personalized apps, enable completely new sales processes and opportunities.

The progressive upheaval caused by digitalization is a hot topic and not free of criticism. In particular, the developments with regard to artificial intelligence and machine learning raise questions of technical, informational, and business ethics. Where does digitalization provide added value or result in a loss of personal and informational autonomy? What are the opportunities and risks of the increased dependence on IT and IT companies? Where does the responsibility lie for the consumers of digital goods and services? In addition to business world, dealing with the opportunities and consequences of digital change and the digitalization of the economy in the 21st century, becomes increasingly more significant for other fields like law, medicine, sociology, and psychology.

Research and Publications

Our knowledge base –
Generating thought leadership through research and publications.

WHU is home to an expert faculty whereby professors conduct a diverse range of projects, studies, and release leading publications addressing and answering relevant questions on the topics of digitalization in all areas and sectors of management.

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Faculty and Experts

Motivating innovation –
Faculty and practitioners driving next-gen thinking.

Our expert and diverse faculty are actively engaged in research contributing not only to the curriculum, but intellectually to the wider research and business community. They consistently contribute to thought leadership regarding digital themes.

Professor Dr. Holger Ernst
Chair of Technology and Innovation Management
Intellectual Property Management
New Product Development

WHU Dries Faems Faculty Master

Professor Dr. Dries Faems
Chair of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Technological Transformation
WHU Innovation Ecosystem Hub 

Innovation and Organization
Technological Transformation


WHU Christina Guenther Faculty Master

Professor Dr. Christina Günther
Chairholder of IHK-Chair of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Industrial Organization
Field Experiments in Organizations
Hidden Champions

Assistant Professor Dr. Irina Heimbach 
Digitalization, Marketing, and Sales Group
Digital Marketing
Information Systems 

Professor Dr. Christoph Hienerth
Chair of Entrepreneurship and New Business Development
Social Entrepreneurship
New Product Development
Corporate Entrepreneurship​​​​

Professor Dr. Arnd Huchzermeier
Chair of Production Management
Management-Quality and Industrial Excellence
Future Supply Chains in the Consumer Goods Industry
Global Supply Chain and Risk Management

Professor Dr. Ove Jensen
Chairholder of Sales Management and B2B Marketing
B2B Marketing
Personal Selling
Sales Management

Professor Dr. Nadine Kammerlander 
Head of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group
Governance in Family Firms

Dr. Peter Kreutter
Director of Stiftung WHU​​​​​​​
Digitalization in the Non-Profit Sector

Professor Dr. Miriam Müthel
Chairholder of Organizational Behavior
International Management
Organizational Behavior
Business Ethics

Professor Dr. Serden Ozcan
Chair of Innovation and Corporate Transformation
Evolution of Firms
Competitive Strategies and Strategic Renewal
Growth Ecosystems

Assistant Professor Dr. Martin Prause
Chair of Computational Economics and Business Analytics
Machine Learning
Business Simulation
Data Science
Artificial Intelligence

Professor Dr. Utz Schäffer
Director of Institute for Management Accounting and Control
Strategy Execution
Management Controlling
Management Governance

Professor Dr. Sascha L. Schmidt
Chair and Head of the Center for Sports and Management (CSM)
Digital Transformation
Sports Innovation
Impact of New Technologies in Sports

Professor Dr. Christian Schlereth
Chair of Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing
Digital services
Energy pricing and consumption
Price Management 

Professor Dr. Liji Shen
Chair of Operations Management
Approximation Algorithms
Mathematical Programming

Professor Dr. Stefan Spinler
Chairholder of Kühne Institute for Logistics Management
Real Options Analysis
Analytics Edge
Logistics & Supply Chain Management

Professor Dr. Carl Marcus Wallenburg
Chair of Logistics and Services Management
Logistics Management
Logistics Services Providers
Supply Chain Controlling
Risk Management in Supply Chains

Take a look at the experts at WHU:


Students@WHU –
A driven community tackling digital themes.

Digitalization plays an important role at WHU whether in research, publications, or learning environment. Students contribute further by pinpointing core issues at the climactic point of their studies. In 2018, more than 80 Bachelor and Master theses supervised by WHU professors, were dedicated to the topics that surround digitalization. These include:

  • Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and its applications in business
  • Blockchain technology and its implications for businesses, e.g. in the area of finance or supply chain management
  • Economics of digital currencies
  • Technological disruption, digital transformation, digital business models in different industries and company sizes
  • Industry 4.0
  • Digitalization in Marketing, e.g. social media and influencer marketing, voice control assistants, digital brand equity, AI driven marketing
  • E-commerce and emerging online markets
  • The development of eSports
  • Robo-advisory
  • Electro-mobility and autonomous driving, e.g. autonomous trucks in supply chain management
  • 3D printing technologies
  • Demystifying big data
  • Business opportunities and applications of VR, AR, online gaming
  • Data protection legislation
  • Digital services

WHU AI Summer Hackathons –
Solving challenges by using limited AI algorithms.

In June and July, we organize a number of hackathons, where all WHU students (Bachelor, Master, MBA, EMBA) are invited to solve a practical challenge by using a limited number of AI algorithms. For each challenge, the hackathon coordinators provide an online introductory tutorial, which will help students to develop an appropriate solution. All challenges are organized fully online. We have prepared the following hackathons:

Challenge 1: Based on a database of AI company descriptions from Crunchbase and using text mining algorithms, students are asked to identify an ecosystem of start-ups, which can help Siemens in developing their AI healthcare activities. (Coordinator: Prof Faems; Launch date: June 15)

Challenge 2: Based on a dataset of Airbnb in New York City, students are supposed to predict (using tools from supervised learning) the price of NYC Airbnb rentals based on the data provided and any external dataset(s) with relevant information. (Coordinator: Professor Spinler; Launch date: June 29)

Challenge 3: After being introduced to the most essential unsupervised learning methods, students receive an anonymized list of scores from an online course along with details about when, how often and which video course contents have been accessed by students (more than 9,000 accesses during 7 weeks). The challenge is to identify and quantify different learning strategies and essentially test which of them is most effective for an excellent course performance (Coordinator: Professor Schlereth; Launch date: July 13).  

We hope that this initiative can be the starting point of developing a large and vibrant community of WHU students, who are experimenting with a wide variety of AI skills and algorithms. If you would have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Professor Faems (dries.faems(at)

Student Clubs

Taking innovation into their own hands –
WHU students shaping the future of digitalization.

WHU Founders' Conference

Europe’s premier student-led start-up conference, IdeaLab! connects experienced founders, venture capitalists, top-tier investors, and motivated students for an interactive exchange of ideas. Merging high-level networking with hands-on workshops and the opportunity for students to pitch ideas to venture capitalists, IdeaLab! is the event of the year for future founders.

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Business meets Tech

WHU’s youngest club focused on tech and IT encourages WHU students to think beyond the standard skills needed within business and management and engage with tech-related topics. Providing useful skills and knowledge via workshops and hands-on expertise to excel in the rapidly changing executive environment.

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A revolutionary platform for today’s creative and inspirational thinkers, TEDXWHU is a day-long conference channeling the global TEDx spirit of stimulating dialogue and spreading new ideas. These independent events are entirely organized and coordinated by WHU students and also offer exceptional networking opportunities.

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WHU Inside Business

WHU Inside Business provides videos with insights from executives and managers in the areas of digitalization, supply chain management, entrepreneurship, and finance. Since the start of the club in 2016, more than 30 topic-specific videos have been created by the student club which collaborates closely with various chairs of WHU and the WHU marketing department.

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Digitalization and business –
Leading discussions and ideas for tomorrow.

What is the role of the CDO in a modern organization? What is it like to work for a global company like Facebook? What are best practices for business during times of digital transformation? Student club WHU Inside Business offers a dedicated channel to digitalization and its surrounding questions, tackling important topics and providing insights through interviews with industry experts and key figures.

Programs & Modules

Education in the digital age –
Transforming the curriculum with cutting-edge knowledge.

WHU professors teach the latest content including digital advancements relevant to their respective area of expertise, such as Fintech in finance courses or automated supply chains in supply chain management courses. WHU offers dedicated modules on digital topics that complement the main curriculum, such as coding basics in our Bachelor and Master programs, through to Machine Learning in the Kellogg-WHU EMBA, and a variety of guest lecturers providing expert knowledge on the latest digital topics. Addressed throughout the curriculum for all study programs at WHU, digitalization is an important topic with dedicated modules, workshops, and electives on digital themes that accompany studies.

Here are just a few examples of how digitalization is embedded into our study programs:

Available within the General Studies module, WHU has launched a cooperation with coding school Le Wagon. These online courses are targeted at UX and UI Design, web development, programming, and APIs. WHU students also have the option to participate in the Le Wagon coding bootcamp which can be recognized as an internship as part of their WHU studies.

Delivering insights into the main aspects of web development, students learn the basics in various technologies widely used in web programming such as HTML, CSS, MySQL database, PHP, and JavaScript. Students are able to then apply this knowledge, practice their programming skills, and finally build a functional website for a fictitious start-up company, as a basis for future leadership decisions.

Integrated into General Studies and organized by WHU student initiative Business Meets Tech, 'Applied Data Thinking' is taught by data expects aiming to train participants how to discover data driven questions, uncover large amounts of data, and how to use data inputs best. Students solve real-life business challenges in teams using concepts learnt in class that enable them to solve problems in the wider business world.

'Applied Digital Product Development' is integrated into the General Studies module and organized by Business Meets Tech, a student initiative at the WHU. Taught by industry professionals, the aim of this course is to communicate the concepts of Design Thinking and Lean Startup. The course presents the participants with a broad challenge that they have to solve using concepts learned in class and pitch it at the end of the course. Specific methods of user exploration, ideation, prototyping, iteration and pitching are focused upon.

Providing an initial introduction to Blockchain Technology, students have the opportunity to develop an intuition for what sets this new technology apart and the applicability for real-world usage. Students are also introduced to cryptocurrencies and smart contracts, as well as the Solidity programming language, while creating and launching their own cryptocurrencies and smart contracts. The course itself is split into lectures and labs, approaching the overarching concepts alongside practical methods.

This tutorial is structured to act as a thorough introduction to programming in Python. It teaches the concepts behind and the syntax of the 'core' Python language as defined by the Python Software Foundation in the official language reference. The course is taught in a tutorial style with dives into theoretical concepts where applicable. The main goal is to prepare students for further studies in the young field of data science such as courses on data engineering, data visualization, machine learning, and optimization. All materials for the course are available for free and as open source at

Aiming to identify the core topics involved in the effective management of digital marketing, the course provides a framework, provides analytic tools to manage customer experience, fosters an understanding of relevant economic principles, outlines changes in business models, and finally discusses possible processes of digital transformation.

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Through a partnership with leading coding school Le Wagon, WHU sponsors ten selected students to attend Le Wagon’s renowned nine-week bootcamp program. Fitting seamlessly into the Master in Entrepreneurship Program, participants learn about software engineering, database architecture, technical workflow used in start-ups, and gain experience with developer tools.

An elective created specifically to address the need for software development and coding skills vital to the entrepreneurs of the future. With a special partnership with leading coding bootcamp Codecademy, Master in Entrepreneurship students have the opportunity to take Le Wagon courses in addition to WHU lectures, allowing them to learn the programming languages and IT skills that meet the needs of today’s entrepreneurs and managers.

Focusing on applications in different business areas including procurements, production, and distribution. The elective introduces core technologies in the context of IoT and Cloud computing, explores distribution logistics, complex resource planning, and the functioning philosophy of approximation algorithms.

The course addresses how a digital strategy in firms should not treat technology as a separate component of IT or marketing operations, but how it can actually reshape the company’s relationships with customers, employees, and with the market as a whole. Questions that are addressed include: (i) How to identify valuable digital technology opportunities? (ii) What is the role of internal and external strategies in implementing digital transformation? (iii) How can I create and appropriate value from digital transformation?

The course addresses how a digital strategy in firms should not treat technology as a separate component of IT or marketing operations, but how it can actually reshape the company’s relationships with customers, employees, and with the market as a whole. How can I identify valuable digital technology opportunities? What is the role of internal and external strategies in implementing digital transformation? How can I create and appropriate value from digital transformation? 

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Led by experts and coaches in the respective areas from etventure, a company founded in 2010 with offices all over the world including Berlin, London, Paris, and New York, and with over 200 entrepreneurs and digital experts as part of their team. Etventure identifies means of innovative new business models and positions itself as a leader in the execution of digital transformation. Within the scope of the one-day workshop the topics of digitization strategies, execution approaches and best practices are addressed. The course equips the participants in innovative methodologies and tools and shows the necessity to constantly innovate and adapt to changing business environments.

In order to seek a competitive advantage in business, managers should develop an understanding of the potential that can be found in large amounts of data, using techniques such as Data Mining and Machine Learning. The aim of this course is to provide a technical background for data handling, cleaning, and preparation, using Machine Learning algorithms to assess managerial applicability. The theoretical content is complemented by hands-on activities for processing and analyzing real-time data from social networks and other databases.

As the rise of digital technologies increases, so does the need for transformation within different industries. While this does offer challenges for companies, it also opens up opportunities to innovate in terms of new products, processes, and business models. This module addresses three key perspectives: strategic, organizational, and innovation. Participants receive advanced knowledge related to these issues and use novel tools and methodologies to execute assignments on how to successfully innovate for digital transformation.

Led by an expert with more than 20 years of experience in management consulting as well as a founder of various successful start-ups, Mr. Hosseini has been advising companies since 2013 on digital issues. The workshop addresses and analyses platform economy as a new market mechanism over the course of two days, examines experiences and pitfalls, approaches to building a platform economy business, along with insights and expert knowledge throughout.

For senior managers to have trust in their analytics team to reveal solutions that encompass a competitive edge, this is encouraged by first-hand experience with analytical tools and the decisions based on the results. As it becomes more imperative to understand what tools are available to gather data, to aggregate and use it to its full potential, equally important is it to understand the legal implications of collecting data for businesses.

After completion of this course, students will have a basic understanding of confidence intervals and hypothesis tests. They will be able to compute such intervals and p-values for tests on a single mean or proportion and interpret multiple linear regression equations and use them for forecasting.

An optional course taught in Toronto as part of the EMBA global electives, students have the opportunity to define the skills and competencies needed to succeed in a rapidly changing working environment characterized by digital disruption. The course explores the organizational transformation needed to take advantage of new digital opportunities, neutralize digital threats, and how to apply digital leadership skills to drive a successful strategy within organizations. 

A program consisting of two modules, the CIO Leadership Program provides a platform for senior professionals to lead transformation in a digital and global environment, enhance an entrepreneurial mindset, and broaden a profession network.  With one module held in Düsseldorf and the other abroad in India, China, the U.S. or Israel, the program takes senior executives in IT and digitalization, and works to enhance current capabilities in order to transform organizations for a digital, globalized economy.  In partnership with WHU, IDG Business Media GmbH, and DXC Technology, executives participate in sessions at large online marketing companies such as Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Citi Ventures, Samsung Ventures, and German Chamber of Commerce.

Focusing on the use of Digitalization techniques, ‘nudging’ is the influence of decision-making in favor of a desired societal outcome. Using a concept and analysis, the course focuses on the use of digital tools and technologies to gain insights, and the methods in how one can determine the behavior of people in a predictable way.

This program equips participants with insights, skills, and tools to generate game changing innovations and create an innovation powerhouse.   During the program, participants will experience learning in different formats: lectures, group work, case studies, and simulations.  Renowned WHU faculty members will share the latest research results and practical tools and encourage participants to exchange experiences and ideas with peers. Participants will gain extensive insights into using emerging technologies for innovation and will learn how to master operational excellence for innovation.

The seminar provides an in-depth understanding of the nature of management accounting as well as the counterpart role in the finance function, i.e. the role of controllers, financial directors, and chief financial officers. In a second step, the impact of digitalization is discussed.

Every paper is presented by a “seller”, i.e. a person who does not present the paper in detail, but that sets the hook, tries to sell the contribution and relates it to other literature (approx. 10 minutes). The presenter is then followed by one or two particpants who act as “challengers”, i.e. persons who try to find the weaknesses of a paper and bring forward open questions (approx. 10-20 minutes). Those talks are followed by a Q&A and a hopefully intensive discussion between all doctoral students and faculty.

Learning Environment

Extracurricular and extraordinary –
Bringing technology to the classroom.

In the Classroom

Lecture halls are equipped with the latest video capture technology for recording lectures or guest speakers, facilitating video conferences in a professional and interactive way, and the ability to capture student presentations for later analysis.




In Self-Study

Face-to-face study can be digitally supported by WHU’s learning platform Moodle, used by professors to provide course material and readings to the students or to enrich the in-class part with additional online elements, like videos, quizzes, or online assignments.



In our Library

The WHU library has one of the best-equipped databases with more than 50,000 e-books and 64,000 journal titles available online. With more than 70 databases on offer and working closely with professors to ensure all materials related to courses are available online, the library maintains around 80% of its volume and content online.



Want to know more? –
Contact the Center of Digitalization.

Professor Dr. Stefan Spinler

Professor of Logistics Management
Academic Director Center of Digitalization

 +49 (0)261 6509 430

Eva Kohl

Assistant Dean
Director of Digital Strategy

 +49 (0)261 6509-630