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“Digital Leadership must be lived to be promoted”

Topic of the day for the 2nd trade fair day: “Masterminds” on digitalization at the EXPO REAL FORUM


The third day of EXPO REAL is mainly known as CareerDay. This year it was also dedicated to “Masterminds” and “Digital Thinkers”: The first event, entitled “Masterminds” and taking place at the EXPO REAL Forum on the subject “Digitalization: Changing processes and new user landscapes”, welcomed discussants Prof. Dr. Peter Russo (EBS Universität), Dr. Florian Stadlbauer (Commerz Real AG), Dr. Martin C. Wolff (philosopher & consultant) and Henryk Plötz (computer scientist „Chaos Computer Club“). Michael Franke (Focus) moderated the discussion.


Digitalization is a topical issue, also in the property sector, and Prof. Peter Russo is very much aware of that. At the beginning of his keynote he stated that, when talking to representatives of the sector, he would often be facing the question “Man, I need to digitalize – but how?”. But digitalization and innovation do not just imply new technologies and the use thereof. It is also about innovation management – and about people. A wide spectrum, which was elucidated by four experts in the said panel who could hardly be more different in nature: a scientist, a former games developer, a philosopher as well as a computer scientist and “hacker”. And still they had one thing in common: All masterminds of this year were sector outsiders – except for Stadelbauer, who, in his own words, “has been in the property sector for four weeks only”. Maybe the ideal prerequisite to discuss innovation?


“Take the plunge into Digitalization!”

“Maybe the property sector is far too fragmented to be confronted with digitalization in full scope thus resulting in difficulties in handling it?” But Prof. Russo backpedaled immediately: “That’s just another excuse”. Stadlbauer stated the real reasons – in his experience: “Silo thinking impedes innovation and digitalization”. A change will in particular call for managers, as: “Digital Leadership must be lived to be promoted”. Wolff conducted his own cause studies in his role as a consultant in very traditional companies. His plea to the sector and the audience: “Take the plunge into Digitalization!” There is no one who doesn’t know what this would mean to himself and his business. But many companies are paralyzed by their fear. They’d ignore to realize that there is a need to change and would thus be heading towards the abyss with their eyes wide open. He mentioned several renowned examples such as Nokia. But actually it would be pretty easy, as Russo had already set out at the beginning of his keynote: “Innovation is less about creativity but rather about analysis.” A company’s duty is mainly to unveil and analyze the demands of its clients and then react accordingly – “That’s how you create innovation.” But there is no choice about digitalization, he summarized: “Property sector has to go along with digitalization – as it will come anyways!” Stadlbauer went even further: “We are in the middle of a digital tsunami – we do have to turn surfers on the digital wave”.


“I don’t believe in a biological solution“

Always keep in mind that it all requires money and resources. Wolff: “It’s not going to work without investments.” The companies will have to qualify employees, ask questions, free up resources! Just purchasing new technics is not sufficient: “Digitalization has a lot to do with people.”

But those only counting on a “biological solution” will, however, be barking up the wrong tree. Russo is convinced: “The pace of technological development is increasing, but we’re living longer as well…”

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