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Mastering IT Challenges Together

What role can IT play in the development of digital business models at Bertelsmann? And what does a modern IT architecture that drives digital transformation look like? Bertelsmann’s first “IT Circle”, which took place at the end of September in Gütersloh and Rietberg, focused on these questions. For the first time, a selection of senior IT managers from all corporate divisions worldwide met with the Bertelsmann IT Board to discuss current trends and the strategic challenges of IT at Bertelsmann. This training program for IT managers was conceived and developed by the Bertelsmann University in close collaboration with the Corporate IT department.

“Promoting strategic discourse”

After the well-tried nomination process through the HR units, 22 IT managers from the eight corporate divisions and nine different countries were invited to Gütersloh to participate in the first “IT Circle”. Tom Linckens, Chief Information Officer of Bertelsmann, said: “The program is an important building block for promoting the discourse between the divisions and the cross-divisional IT Board.” 

Structure of the training program

The “IT Circle” is a new training format of the Bertelsmann University’s Function Campus and part of the IT roadmap of Bertelsmann. The goal of the program is the promotion of IT talents within the entire Group. The format consists of four modules that take place over a period of 24 months, the aim of which is to jointly identify and discuss strategic and professional challenges. Externally, the renowned international ESADE Business School in Barcelona supports the program. The executive training has a strong focus on the everyday challenges of the participants and the transfer of the learned content into their working world: during the 24 months, the IT managers work on their own projects, apply what they learn, and discuss and reflect their activities in small groups.

Successful launch

The first module of the IT program had a successful launch at the end of September in Gütersloh and Rietberg. Tom Linckens, Chief Information Officer of Bertelsmann, and Steven Moran, Chief Learning Officer of Bertelsmann, welcomed the 22 participants at the Corporate Center in Gütersloh. Professor Roehl of Freiburg University hosted the program. “In the first module of the ‘IT Circle’, the professional and strategic expertise of the participants and the IT Board are brought together in a dialog: this is how we establish a discourse in which different perspectives and cross-divisional commonalities become evident,” Roehl explained. 

In Rietberg, the participants started with the professional discussions. Many commonalities were identified: “We are all working on the same topics and have to master similar challenges,” said one of the participants, summing things up. The role of IT in the development of new digital business models, the digital transformation at Bertelsmann, and a modern IT architecture stood in the foreground of the discussions and group work.

Discussion with Bertelsmann CFO Bernd Hirsch

Professor Xavier Busquets of the ESADE Business School gave an introduction to the further agenda with his lecture “Challenges for today and tomorrow”. Busquets emphasized: “Today, IT managers have to understand the business language of technology along with important digital trends and their role in the transformation of business models.” On the second day of the “IT Circle” the participants worked on a case study about “Digital Technology & Business Transformation” using a precise example from practice and presented the results in the plenum. On the third day of the meeting, Bertelsmann CFO Bernd Hirsch had a discussion with the IT Circle participants. 

“The launch of the program was a great success,” says Tom Linckens, evaluating the first “IT Circle”. “We have great IT managers. We not only want to get to know them better but we also want to promote and network them with each other. Such a network will very intensively develop over the course of the four modules and aims to provide a sustainable incentive for the collaboration.” (benet)

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