Digital Network Economy & Digital Strategy Development

This website is a personal and non-commercial website of Dr. Ulrich Anders for the purpose of teaching the courses Digital Network Economy and Digital Strategy Development. The courses are taught at Cologne Business School. This website serves the purpose to be a reference site for various materials and concepts, that may be useful to students in the context of digital topics.

Elements of this website have been programmed in class. Of course this website is responsive.

Missing image

Credits: rawpixel on Unsplash

The Future of Work

The more digitalized our world becomes, the more it is going to change. Which jobs will still exist in the future, which are going to change and which are plainly disappearing?

Will robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning take away jobs or will they actually overall help to create jobs?

Companies and work are certainly becoming more modular and de-centralized? What skills will be required in a more digital world?

Missing image

Credits: Branko Stancevic on Unsplash

Digital Skills

The world becomes digital — no doubt about it. With the ever increasing spread of data there is also an acceleration of knowledge. Nobody will get away without life-long learning.

But what concrete skills are required to thrive in this world? Companies are desperately seeking for Digital Natives. What does that mean? Being a Digital Native requires much more than just being comfortable with using apps and social media. Digital skills are comprised of going well beyond this. Have a look:

  1. Process mapping skills: map processes, understand data flows, perform value-stream mapping
  2. IT-skills: programming, IT-infrastructure, security, data protection
  3. Data skills: APIs, data storing, data analysis, statistics, data stories
  4. Integration skills: artificial intelligence, robotics, external resources
  1. Marketing skills: presentation, video, story telling, influencing, (personal) networking
  2. Diversity skills: intercultural relations, global thinking, user stories, varying customer benefits
  3. Planning skills: result-planning, budgeting, resource planning, pitch decks
  4. Realisation skills: ownership, organisation, project & team management, cost management, agile methodologies

Missing image

Pitch Decks

A lot has been said about pitch decks. Understanding the concept and the logic of a pitch deck and being able to produce one is actually important even if you are not setting up a startup. Pitching for ideas and solutions, being able to market them, showing how to gain traction and achieve realisation, all of this within financial and budget constraints, is a highly desired skill set especially within today's companies.

So, have a look at what should go into a pitch deck:

  1. Introduction
  2. Pain Points, Customer Benefit
  3. Product / Service (idea)
  4. Market Analysis & Competition
  5. Traction & Proof-of-Concept
  6. Financial Plan
  1. Marketing Plan
  2. Realisation & Go-to-Market
  3. Team & Skill Sets
  4. Pitch & Funding
  5. Summary

Missing image

On Content And Channels

Content has three aspects, that need to be considered:

  • Content creation — there are many forms of content: articles, blogs, stories, images, illustrations, etc.
  • Content presentation — people tend to judge about the quality of the content by its appearance. Just like in products, people believe that better designed products have a better quality.
  • Content delivery — the best content in its nicest form has no value if it does not reach anybody.


Analogue channels:

  • Books
  • (Business) Cards
  • Flyer / Brochures / Information
  • Letters
  • Print media ads
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Sticker / Magnets

Digital channels:

  • E-Mails
  • Evaluations
  • Facebook
  • Google ads
  • Influencer
  • Instagram
  • Internet ads
  • Invitations
  • Kickstarter / Indiegogo
  • Product placements / Reviews (explicit / implicit)
  • Referrals (such as links from Youtube, Idealo, etc.)
  • Youtube
  • Website

Personal channels:

  • Events
  • Invitations


  • Product information
  • Customer loyalty programs / Memberships
  • Customer recommendations
  • Overcompensation in case of complaints
  • Sponsoring

Some more useful resources for producing content

There are some very useful and also free software tools for producing a video. They are all available for Windows, Max, or Linux:

  1. XnView — Graphic programm for modifying pictures:
  2. Google Fonts — Large amount of free fonts:
  3. Font Squirrel — Hand-selected free fonts:
  4. Incompetech — Free mp3-music if non-commercial and if you give credits:
  5. Bensound — Free mp3-music if non-commercial and if you give credits:
  6. Free Music Archive — Mp3-music with licenses defined by individual artists (many of which are free):
  7. Unsplash — Free pictures:
  8. Pixabay — Free images":

Missing image

Story Telling

Story telling is a significant skill. It enables you to market your ideas, companies, products or convictions. The more digital and complex the world becomes, the more story telling becomes important to transport content, to share believes or to generate buy-in.

There is no one way to story-telling and there is no right or wrong. But there certainly are stories which are interesting and which are boring.

What a story is

»The anatomy of story« from John Truby is a classic and recommended read. He defines story as: »A speaker tells a listener what someone did to get what he wanted and why.« So story telling is about desire. It tracks »what a person wants, what he'll do to get it, and what costs he'll have to pay along the way.«

Truby goes on: »Good story telling lets the audience relive events in the present so they can understand the forces, choices, and emotions that led the character to do what he did.« And all the time the hero has to struggle. »Any character who goes after a desire and is impeded is forced to struggle (otherwise the story is over). An that struggle makes him change.«

Finally, in good story telling, the author always puts a little mystory element into it: »The author tells the audience certain information about a made-up character and he withholds certain information. This forces the audience to figure out who the character is and what he is doing.«

The anatomy of story

According to John Truby every story consists of the following elements, independent of whether or not they have been devised by the author:

  1. Premise
  2. Story structure
  3. Character
  4. Theme (moral argument)
  5. Story world
  1. Symbol Web
  2. Plot
  3. Scene weave
  4. Scene construction and symphonic dialogue

Some resources to learn more about story telling

If you want to get to know more about story telling, these resources may help to get a clearer picture:

Musings on story telling

»If we take a risk and show that we are human and vulnerable then that's where the best stories lie.«
— Andrea Gibbs

»Know your audience.«
— Matt Chan

"Hook'em early.« — Garr Reynolds

»Hold them [the audience] still for just a moment in life and have them wonder.«
— Andrew Stanton

»Make a promise. This story leads somewhere that is worth your time.«
— Andrew Stanton

»Make the audience put things together. Don't give them 4, give them 2 + 2.«
— Andrew Stanton

»You don't believe the message, if you don't believe the messenger.«
— Dr. Viet Etzold

»Overcoming bad things makes us happier than if these bad things would have never happened.«
— Dr. Viet Etzold

»We impose stories. They help experience reality in a way that makes sense, that we can process, and that help us cope. Stories are how we live our lifes.«
— Nick Morgan

»You are not telling the story to change what happened. You're telling the story to change you.«
— Donald Davis

»A story is a mystery box.«
— J.J. Abrams

»A story is the catalyst for imagination."
— J.J. Abrams

Missing image

The importance of video skills

There are more and more paid streams such as Spotify, Netflix or podcasts. This means classical television or radio advertising will not longer reach its audience like in the past. Companies will need to move into video messaging with good content to attract or inform its customers.

Furthermore, the world is full of ideas and attractive offers. Nobody is waiting for anything new to arrive. If some content does not have the means to meet an audience, probably, no one will ever detect it. A video might help to generate the necessary attention.

Finally, knowledge management and documentation is a big issue. Because information that is not documented is probably lost. Video is and will continue to be essential. There are three types of knowledge: (a) general, (b) special and (c) specific. In addition to books, encyclopedias or Wikipedia, there are already a lot of videos available on general and special knowledge either free or through online course providers. The biggest challenge is documentation and knowledge management on company specific issues. Video will also play a major role here.

Some hints for producing a video

Here are some hints (and some rules) to consider for producing a video:

    1. Defined precisely, who the narrator is and whom he/she represents. Tell the story from this very perspective.
    2. Be very clear on the objective: what do you want the audience after watching the video to feel, to believe, to know or to do?
    3. Generate interest in your topic, don't assume this.
    4. Tell a story: a story is more than just passing information.
    5. Be consistent in your line of thought.
    6. Make sure the title of your video fits to your story (or vice versa).
    7. Make sure the images fit your story. They should help to tell the story rather than be the story. Of course there are exceptions.
    8. Blend over slides or scenes to make the video flowing smoothly.
    9. Sound is probably more important than the individual images themselves.
    10. Make your voice loud, intensive and articulate enough.
    11. Don't speak too fast (especially if the topic is complicated people may not follow).
    12. Vary background sounds and align them to the topic. Let music fade in or out.
    13. Don't make the background music too loud, so that people have difficulties hearing the narration.
    1. Consider using headlines, subtitles or other texts for supporting or structuring the story. Let text ease or fade in or out.
    2. Videos can use moving scenes and static images. Pan over static images to make them more lively.
    3. Don't use the same panning effect (e.g. zooming in or out) on all static images all the time. Use appropriate panning routes.
    4. Use a wide aspect ratio and cinema bars to make your video look more cinematographic.
    5. Achieve visual consistency by applying a common color scheme, LUT, saturation or contrast.
    6. A video is not a presentation on film.
    7. Slides must not be overloaded: if there is not enough time to read the information on a slide while the slide is on display, reduce the information on the slide.
    8. A video is about moving images, so don't display a static slide too long — you are losing attention.
    9. Don't copy somebody else's story.
    10. If the same topic has already been treated elsewhere, find a different angle.
    11. Give credits by naming sources and URLs.
    12. Respect copyrights and licenses.

    Some free software for producing videos

    There are some very useful and also free software tools for producing a video. They are all available for Windows, Max, or Linux:

    1. Davinci Resolve — Professional video editing, but complex and resource intensive (Davinci Resolve requires a computer or laptop with an explicit graphic card that has CUDA 3.0 support): and Davinci Resolve Manual.
    2. Shotcut — Good video editing, less resource intensive:
    3. Open Broadcast Studio — screen cam and streaming:
    4. Audacity — cutting and improving audio:

    Missing image

    Credits: Photo by Guillaume Bolduc on Unsplash

    Website Programming

    As pre-requisites you'll need:

    • Google Chrome and Google React Developer Tools
    • Mac users will also need to install Xcode
    • node (which comes with npm): after installing it open a terminal or command shell and run
      npm install --global npm-check-updates
      npm install --global serve
      npm install --global gatsby-cli
      npm install --global eslint
      npm install --global @babel/core @babel/node
      Mac users may need to add a sudo before the npm and then type in their Mac passwords when requested.
    • Sign in into GitHub and then install git and GitHub Desktop.
    • Sign up to Netlify.
    • Visual Studio Code (VS Code)
      with these recommended extensions: Atom Keymap, Auto Close Tag, Auto Rename Tag, Bracket Pair Colorizer, Code Runner, Code Spell Checker, Color Highlight, EsLint, File Utils, Guides, Live Server Preview, Lorem Ipsum, Markdown Preview GitHub Styling, npm, npm Intellisense, Prettier, Sort lines, TODO Highlight, vscode-icons, vscode-styled-components, Word Count.
    • It is recommendable to install the following file managers:
      Total Commander for Windows or Commander One for Mac.
    • As an alternative to npm some people prefer Yarn.
      (For Yarn to work Mac users will also need to install Homebrew / brew.)

    Missing image

    Credits: JD Hudson


    GitHub is a plattform for exchanging software (or other digital content) based on the exceptionally well thought out versioning software named git. But GitHub is much more than this. It is probably THE go-to-place for most open source software projects. Have a look at the GitHub Octoverse to get an idea about the huge dimension and importance of GitHub across the world.

    But GitHub is even more than just big and important. It also is a show-case for a co-operation model which is not built on hierarchies but on competences alone. There is also no distinction on race, gender or age on GitHub. As such it can serve as a blueprint for modern organisations that want to get ready for the future.

    Missing image

    Agile Project Management

    Projects are change and project management is the ability to master changes in a proven and structured form. In the digital world classical waterfall project management has been complemented by agile project management approaches, such as SCRUM or KANBAN.

    If you look for free software to try out project management, these products can be recommended:

    Classical waterfall project management

    Online Kanban project management

    Project management is one of the most looked for and most widely applicable skill in a digital context. Agile project methodologies approach projects differently than classical project management. In agile project management a product becomes the sole focus. The product is developed in iterations and in each iteration the customer or its representative can easily introduce changes, modifications and corrections.