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Don’t Mistake Social for Digital Transformation: New MOOCs Leadership Series

September 23, 2015 by Susan Galer 17

Digital Transformation has nothing and everything to do with technology. That’s one of the realities driving SAP’s newest line-up of massive open online courses (MOOCs), called the thought leaders series.

I’ve been writing since 2013 about openSAP’s incredible growth providing MOOCs to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who are eager to learn about SAP innovations like SAP S/4HANA, SAP Fiori, and Big Data.

Now just in time for back-to-school, openSAP is expanding its MOOCs with a new course series featuring leaders from business and academia sharing the best of the best disruptive ideas and experiences covering the digital economy. Think: digital transformation, cyber-security, and more. By sharing stories of successful digital innovation and transformation, the team behind openSAP hopes to empower learners by opening their minds to what’s possible with disruption. openSAP has been wildly successful with focused, technology-centric courses. My biggest question is whether or not MOOCs providing insights around larger business themes will be just as successful.

Dr. Helmut Krcmar, a professor at the Technische Universitat Munchen (TUM), is teaching the first openSAP thought leaders course, “Leadership in the Digital Transformation,” beginning October 6.

Dr. Helmut Krcmar, a professor at the Technische Universitat Munchen (TUM), is teaching the first openSAP thought leaders course, “Leadership in the Digital Transformation,” beginning October 6.

To find out more about the thought leaders curriculum, I spoke with Dr. Helmut Krcmar, a professor at the Technische Universitat Munchen (TUM), who is teaching the first course, “Leadership in the Digital Transformation,” beginning October 6. He told me that his course is designed to provide immediately useable insights for both IT and business leaders struggling with what digital transformation actually means for their company — from how products are developed and customers served, to how supply chains accelerate time-to-value and competition morphs overnight.

“If you want to lead in the digital age, you have to understand what is happening and why,” Krcmar said. “Then you can figure out what leadership behaviors you need to change or adapt so that it aligns with the transformation.”

Understanding the bigger picture provides valuable context for CIOs and their managers as they innovate with cloud, mobile and Big Data. However, Krcmar said the business side also needs education. “I’ve seen companies reduce digital transformation to social media. Some companies think digital transformation as something only to do with technology, and don’t see that it’s actually technology-enabled organizational change. Both IT and business leaders need to understand how technology changes their relationships to customers, employees, partners in their ecosystems, and how they manage the entire company.”

In this video, Dr. Bernd Welz, Head of Scale, Enablement & Transformation at SAP, explains the purpose behind the thought leaders series. “Businesses want to become the disruptor instead of being the disrupted,” he said. “With this new platform, we would like to provide thought leaders from both the business and academic world from our University Alliances network with the opportunity to share their insights on the drivers of change, how to manage the change and how to master complexity.”

What I find most interesting is how openSAP MOOCs are evolving from “how to” technology instruction to shed light on industry-wide challenges leaders are facing, like what it takes to win in the digital age. To be sure, openSAP remains very much a part of the company’s larger objective to equip customers and partners with the information they need to realize the fastest business outcomes from their SAP solution investments. Indeed, TUM is a member of SAP University Alliances. The thought leaders series promises even greater knowledge sharing for MOOCs participants to help their companies stay ahead in an era of unprecedented change. It’s shaping up to be an enlightening fall season.

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