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Q&A with André Daus

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with André Daus, Executive Coach.

How could you describe your career path in a few words?

My career - if you want to call it that - began when I was seven years old. At that time, I got my first computer as a present and immediately started to try out what I could do with it. Adults had little understanding of it anyway, and my friends just looked at me in disbelief when I came up with a new idea. Eventually, I built the only Commodore C64 that greeted me with my name when I switched it on. This was followed by experiments with acoustic couplers and later modems to communicate with people on the other side of the world. Logically, my professional life had to tie in with these experiences. After an apprenticeship in the financial sector, I was responsible for the hardware and infrastructure of a local bank, from simple PCs to ATMs.

Later, I managed projects and was responsible for innovations and enhancements at investment banks. I worked for companies like Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, and IBM and worked worldwide on my projects. Today, I am more concerned with the people who use digital products and solutions than with the products themselves. I work as an executive coach for Complexity and own an IT company that handles problems no one else wants to touch. We work according to the motto: Everyone has said it can't be done, but let's try and see if there is a way. We don't work for everyone, but only for companies that believe they can do more than they have ever dreamed of.

What are the highlights of the key digital innovation trends for 2022? Can you give us some major examples?

I don't like the term trend. It usually means what many people are doing. And when it comes to innovation, these things seem new to many only because they haven't seen them before. In fact, there is usually not much further, but many small steps happen every day that lead to what we suddenly perceive as something new. Elon Musk didn't create anything new with his Falcon rockets either. He merely recognized a problem and found a solution that involved many small steps and had to contend with many setbacks. Similar to what Benjamin Franklin did with his light bulb, only more expensive. In the end, we have something that we recognize as new: A rocket that can be reused or a lamp that doesn't need to burn gas.

The top five outcomes that we have seen as new, particularly in recent years, and that fall under the definition of digital innovation are, in my view, the following for 2022:

Hybrid Work Models

What was considered impossible in the past was accelerated by the pandemic. Old thinking had to be abandoned, and mobile working was made possible. However, the hybrid does not refer to a bilateral way of working. Instead, it is the ability to work from anywhere in the world. Hardware has been powerful enough to support this way of working. The software has been fine, although there is still much room for improvement. Infrastructure has been a limiting factor, but 5G can bring the Internet to more remote areas that previously lacked real-time connectivity to corporate offices. Hybrid work models are not a panacea, however. On the one hand, not all workplaces can be converted to hybrid work, and on the other, it also requires a different way of working and, not least, a different mindset for employees and employers. Working time models and hybrid work models don't really go together.


Tokens and NFTs are actually not new at all. However, they got a boost last year by moving more into the tangible space of consumers. One example is art. I visited an art exhibition last year where I had the opportunity to talk to the artists personally. You could buy some of the paintings. The highlight was that you also got the NFTs with it. With the help of NFTs, we can also express online who we are, and instead of just posting some pictures, there is now also the possibility to prove this with NFTs. This is the real trend in my list, as it remains to be seen whether this will continue in a public way or whether it is a development being used in the background to replace previously analog processes in blockchains.

Automation of the Workplace

In line with the Hybrid Work models, more processes could now be automated with the new hardware, software, and infrastructure development. In particular, the processes that could not be replaced by a hybrid work solution were automated to reduce employee workload. This development is enormously vital for companies, especially against the background of the global shortage of skilled workers. However, there are not only advantages. Many processes were automated, although they would have been better done manually. Thus, incorrect automation leads to more problems than solutions, which can pose new challenges for the service departments of a company. Automation can help with standards, but there is more than only a one-size-fits-all solution. Unfortunately, like the latter, it is becoming more common, and the skills shortage that needs to be addressed is then shifted to the service departments, which have much more to do than would have been the case without automation. Hence, automation is a two-edged sword. As easy it is to apply, as hard it is to use it correctly.

Video and especially Live Stream Shopping

I learned that live stream shopping was a topic when a client asked me if I could help. After all, she had to jump on the bandwagon now. Again, live streaming is not new, and if you've always wondered what influencers are actually for, you'll find one answer of many here. What was done in the past through shopping TV can now be produced by individuals from the comfort of their homes. Live streaming is taking a bigger and more prominent place in social media. A larger audience can be reached today through TikTok, YouTube shorts, or even reels than through TV. The background is that live streaming can be consumed anytime and anywhere. This doesn't have to appeal to everyone, but it's a movement that should be addressed in a company's marketing mix. One of the leading spaces for live-stream shopping is Amazon. Almost everyone can create their own alternative shopping channel on Amazon straight from their living room (or office).

CO2 reduction and climate change

Climate change is omnipresent, and by now, it should be clear to even the last doubter that the world, and especially our environment, is changing. CO2 is considered the defined cause of this change, and it is now calculated for many processes how much CO2 they cause. It is crucial to think about it, but to state on websites how much CO2 they cause and how many trees you have planted for them (or think you have let planted) is of little help if the company behind it does not also calculate CO2 for all other processes and tries to reduce them. Unfortunately, these calculations are usually based on algorithms whose origin sometimes needs to be more credible. More digital technology also requires more electricity, and it will take a lot more digital innovations to make calculations and design new processes that produce less CO2.

Based on your experiences, what are the impactful trends in digital innovation that are becoming more important in the context of 2023?

My personal and undisputed number 1 is artificial intelligence. At the same time, I think intelligence can't be artificially created. It's just what we perceive. Due to the hype around chatGPT, AI became known to a larger audience, and as a result, it is being used in more and more fields like companies, marketing, and schools. Midjourney AI can generate images previously taken from large photo databases as stock photos or needed to be taken by photographers. Today, a short description of what is required is enough, and the AI can create matching images in a few seconds. Text for blog posts - no problem. Code for extending a software - no problem. Campaign for email marketing - no problem.

However, quality is still an issue. If you ask a few questions to chatGPT for the first time, you will be amazed at how good the answers are. However, this is just the beginning. When demanding high-quality answers, a simple question is no longer enough. The so-called prompt is crucial. Just as we used to have to enter the right keywords into Google to find the right websites, today, we need the right prompt to get a high-quality answer. There has been research on artificial intelligence for decades, so innovation took time. And what we see now is the result of those years of work, and we can suddenly use it. We perceive it as innovation.

Hybrid Work Models can benefit from artificial intelligence. It can be integrated into already digitized processes and add more intelligent aspects to the new work models. The two together not only sum up innovation but actually accelerate it exponentially. The danger here is that we cannot keep up with our imagination. For this, we need more visionaries who care about the well-being of companies and their people. Just as Henry Ford said back then, they would have said faster horses if I had asked customers what they wanted.

To make these new processes more secure and, at the same time, more independent of others, blockchains will play a more critical role. They can make processes legally safe, independent of third parties, and thus more cost-effective and faster. They will also help to make processes more transparent, which creates a vast trust bonus compared to previously proprietary implementations.

The last major important innovation is the no-code movement. What used to be an extensive and lengthy software development process planned over the years and significantly reduced in recent years with the help of agile approaches is experiencing another enormous acceleration with No-Code. No-Code no longer requires pure developers but also enables other employees in the company to implement solutions. We already knew this from the past in particular areas such as No-SQL or serverless. No-Code brings all this together and thus enables the implementation of so-called enterprise operating systems (OS). This means that a company no longer has to use standard software but can create its own personal and, therefore, individual operating system, to which all employees have contributed. This can increase employee loyalty, personal development and improve customer experience.

In your opinion, how can they create high value for organizations?

We have seen in the past that companies with a general solution, such as department stores with a vast product range or specialized companies with a unique but complex offer, have yet to have a chance to keep up with the competition. Many of these companies have disappeared from the market due to self-inflicted wounds. These include brands such as Kodak, Nokia, Enron, Blockbuster, and Lehman Brothers. They all had excellent products, good employees, and were undisputed world market leaders. But they also had something in common: they could not adapt to changing markets and conditions. Adaptability is the key to the future.

We need an infinite mindset to properly leverage the innovations and trends mentioned above. What worked well in the past has brought us to where we are today. Each and every one of us. However, the same mindset will only get us somewhere. Just as digital innovations have evolved over trends, so has the mindset. But because we are only sometimes aware of this - unlike digital innovations - many leaders are still stuck in a mindset of the last millennium. The steps of change are simply too small to be perceived. Managers, in particular, need employees' support to find new perspectives and ideas that can then be implemented. These are precisely the missing elements that have been the undoing of the companies mentioned above.

Against the global shortage of skilled workers, we must stop looking for new talent as we have done in the past. On the one hand, we need new ways to reach people we would not have considered for a position in the past, and on the other hand, we need new jobs. In this context, the word job is already outdated. The days are over when we assign employees a particular workplace and then pay them for their time. We must rethink and allow employees to develop themselves, find new solutions, and pay them for appropriate services instead of trading time for money.

Change happens, and companies must be brave enough to allow and embrace it even if something goes wrong. Of course, this doesn't mean running blindly but rather taking a certain number of failures into account.

The innovations of technical microservices, artificial intelligence, and remote work offer everything it takes. Imagine a company where employees can get together at any time (that doesn't mean all the time), regardless of where they are in the world (Hybrid Work Model). They discuss and develop a solution based on No-Code and supported by artificial intelligence to have the solution verified in advance. Then, the new solution is implemented in the company's operating system using serverless computing distributed worldwide to benefit everyone. The process is documented in a blockchain, making it transparent for employees and customers.

What can be solved with this?

The skills shortage: You no longer need to search for new employees locally but can access the global market.

The energy crisis: Using microservices and serverless computing can reduce energy consumption.

The supply chain problem: Employees who know processes within the company and perceive customers' needs can develop different solutions than external standard solutions or consultants.

Distributed Workforce: Through global distribution, requests can be handled faster and at any time.

Digital Innovation goes hand in hand with cognitive innovation. The more we open our mindset to different perspectives and embrace changes, the better we can use innovation for the better of organizations, their people, and the environment.

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