This year’s edition of the Transatlantic Digital Debates could not have come at a better time: In a week where U.S. President Donald Trump backed out of The Paris Agreement and German Chancellor Angela Merkel dominated the headlines by stating that Europe must now live on its own strength, 18 young fellows (9 from the U.S., 9 from Germany) met in Berlin to discuss digitization and its implications on modern society. “It’s a unique way to expand one´s network with a broad set of diverse backgrounds, all dealing with the latest challenges of digitization”, stated one of the fellows.
The professional backgrounds of this year’s participants were truly diverse, with employers ranging from Uber to ARD (German Public Broadcasting) to law firms, as well as research organizations and networks from Palo Alto. The program is in its second year of operation and is mainly set up by two think tanks, the Global Public Policy Institute and New America headquartered in Berlin and Washington D.C. respectively, while Microsoft, Intel, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and The Nunatak Group supported TDD 2017 by providing content and stipends.
Principal Dr. Fabian Göbel and Managing Partner Robert Jacobi of The Nunatak Group jointly hosted a session on digitization of business models in the media, insurance and automotive sectors. “We chose specific examples from our daily business practice to ensure that the participants are able to derive hands-on lessons”, said Dr. Göbel. After a short introduction from Mr. Jacobi on the impacts of digitization on society (some positive, others unfavorable) and the challenges big corporations face when trying to adjust to a transforming environment, the fellows received case studies for each of the previously mentioned industries. Within just over an hour, the fellow participants managed to work out creative solutions for each industry: A premium car-sharing service located in Denver, a news product financed though vouchers, sold at cashiers and distributed in schools, and a life insurance product for millennials, directly linked to their individual bank accounts.
“This was a very inspiring session that made the fellows think hard about how companies might provide profitable services in a digital age”, Thorsten Benner, the founder of GPPi, said. After three days in Berlin as well as meetings with federal agencies, academics and corporations to discuss trending topics such as cyber security, artificial intelligence and the internet of things, the fellows moved on to Hamburg for further debate sessions and will continue onto Washington D.C. and Austin this upcoming Fall in September.
Applications for the 2018 edition of the Transatlantic Digital Debates will be open starting November 2017.