What happens when a global pandemic strikes and a group of international students has to set up a forum? You decide on "REDESIGNING WORK" and organize everything online in weeks of intensive preparation. And the result was impressive: 740 participants joined the MCiT Forum 2020 on June 10th and followed the exciting presentations of eleven top-class international speakers in two moderated online rooms and engaged in lively discussions.
Already in their welcoming address, Head of Department & Studies FH-Prof. Dr. Peter Mirski and MCiT master student Daniel Celeschi promised a highly interesting and inspiring conference. "Our goal is to stay connected with our students well beyond their graduation and to be the ‘think tank’ of a large international community of alumni, academics and companies," said Mirski.
Afterwards, keynote speaker Georg Fürlinger, Technology Representative and Co-Director of Foreign Trade Austria, opened the series of lectures. Live from San Francisco, he shared his latest experiences from Silicon Valley and gave an inspiring outlook on what makes successful innovation happen and what the office of the future will look like. "The flexibilization of work is one of the megatrends that can be observed in the world of work and it is changing people, processes and places," says Fürlinger.
Peter Maarten Westerhout, innovative manager and co-founder of TimeLabz, then showed how companies need to rethink their strategy for the post-Corona period. The key to this is to recognize how the economy will change from a social, macroeconomic and organizational perspective and to exploit the potential of new digital tools and business models.
Diana Stafie, foresight strategist and co-founder of Future Station, invited the audience to evolve from Homo sapiens to "Homo prospectus" and to make the future outlook the basis of sound business planning - especially in uncertain scenarios. She emphasized that organizations that value "Future Preparedness" are 33% more profitable than the average.
As the last speaker before the lunch break, Prof. Dr. Markus Scholz, Endowed Professor & Head of the Center for Corporate Governance & Business Ethics, presented a win-win (business) case for social responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis. By analyzing the fight of pharmaceutical companies against the pandemic, he showed how companies and society could benefit in the long-term from a new approach to collaboration.
Meanwhile, in the second conference room, FH-Professor Dr. Peter Mirski presented the new MCiT research subunit "Next World of Work" and gave exciting insights into research work in the field of virtual and augmented reality. Dr. Pascal Schöttle then reported on the latest findings in the field of IT security and privacy. In this context, two MCiT students presented their master theses. Joanna Tsaneva spoke about "Antecedents of Members' Engagement in Internal Online Communities at Organization" and Natalie Baur analyzed the data processing of sensitive personal information on travel booking platforms.
Valentin Schütz is pursuing great visions with his company Gronda, the fastest growing professional network for professionals in the hospitality industry. In his presentation he told how he handled COVID-19 as a start-up CEO and what this time taught him in order to deal with change.
Afterwards, MCI lecturers Thomas Dilger and Prof. Christian Ploder presented their research subunit "Operational Excellence & Agile Governance". Kristina Rimmele presented her master thesis on "Knowledge Management Integration into Agile Organizations" and Sofia Herfert her "Framework to Combine Long-term Data Quality with Agility". Reinhard Bernsteiner then spoke about his research work in the field of data analytics.
After the lunch break, we continued in room 1 with MCiT master student, founder and OpenExO consultant Simon Nopp. He illustrated in impressive graphics how exponential technologies are changing the world today and in the future and what companies have to do to transform their business model and to make it sustainable.
Andreas Jenewein, managing director of vidone GmbH and "Austria's best management consultant" also emphasized that now is the time to break with traditions, rethink strategies and explore the possibilities of digitalization. He illustrated how customer service can be redesigned through the use of new technologies.
But it is not only technologies that change, but also people. For this reason, Karina Besprosvan, award-winning analytical researcher and industry voice, focused on the mindset and needs of the new generations and the challenges they pose to business and society.
In conference room 2, Marlies Tusch, Senior SEO Manager & Data Analyst at Evergreen Media, demonstrated how crucial the rapid switch to online channels was during the COVID-19 crisis. "The winner of this crisis is whoever has built up a strong online presence in advance and was visible when people were searching," the former MCiT student summed up. The success factors here are multichannel marketing, adaptability, reflected cost reductions and visibility.
Horst Moser, who already manages five branches of an international discount supermarket chain and is responsible for around 100 employees at the age of 24, then focused on the aspect of motivating staff in uncertain times. His three core messages to young leaders are: "Lead with strong values, friendliness always wins and clear and open communication is crucial.”
Stephan Schlögl and Alexander Groth presented their research unit Technology Interaction & Innovation, in which they explore the convergence of people and technology in a professional or personal environment. Exciting master theses were also presented. Freja Büll presented the topic "Algorithmic Interference in Recommender Systems - User Perception of Manipulation in News", Fabian Peskoller his work on "Social Media Marketing on Instagram: User's Perception of Advertisements of Influencers and Sponsored Posts" and Guillermo Retana Bronte his "Exploratory Approach to Disclosure of Personal Information in the Fintech Industry".
The final highlight of the forum was the panel discussion. Moderated by MCiT student Davide Maffei, Horst Moser, MCiT research assistant Alexander Monz and Guido Putignano, Italy's youngest Mensa member, CEO and Futurist, discussed the question of how our jobs will be affected by digitalization. They named innovative approaches to solutions for working in a digital society. Especially the controversial idea of an unconditional basic income was broadly debated.
Overall, the MCiT Forum 2020 provided a great opportunity for an inspiring exchange on a highly relevant topic - across countries and even time zones. Professionally moderated and conducted at a high technical level, the forum met with an extremely positive response. The audience expressed its enthusiasm not only through the lively interaction during the lectures, but also in the excellent results of the subsequent survey.