The Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation (DCOS Institute)

The Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation (DCOS Institute) was launched at the world’s largest IT Fair CeBIT. The Institute is seeking collaboration with the United Nations with the objective to scientifically and practically monitor and follow up on the impacts of the digitalization on politics, economy and society. The Diplomatic Council is a global think tank and business network in consultative status with the United Nations.

The Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation

“We look forward to collaborating with further partners who strive to assume responsibility and drive the digital transformation along the sustainable development goals of the United Nations” says the Head of Institute Otto Schell.

Otto Schell, Visionary for digitalization

The Institute is named after Otto Schell, a visionary for digitalization considered one of the most independent pioneers and innovators for digitalization. Schell made a major contribution to the groundbreaking studies for „Industrie Plattform 4.0“ which later became known worldwide under the term Industrie 4.0. Based on this creation, further megatrend innovations such as the Internet of Things (IoT) have evolved. Otto Schell is a sought-after keynote speaker, university lecturer, book author and consultant for all coherent topics such as Smart Factory, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Business Models and Digital Transformation, in particular, the integration of clients and business partners in the value-added processes. The DCOS Institute’s objective is to promote these topics taking into account the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Dr. Horst Walther, Principal

Dr. Horst Walther is a principal at the Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation (DCOS Institute). In addition to Otto Schell, who lent his name to the Institute, he is responsible for the establishment and expansion of a worldwide network of digitization experts.

Dr. Horst Walther has studied Chemistry, Computer Science, Oriental Studies and Economics at the University of Hamburg. He has been working in information technology since 1975. Since 1984, he has been a sought-after consultant and interim manager in the industry sectors automotive, banking, chemistry, insurance, pharmaceutics and public transport. He was appointed a DC Commissioner for UN Affairs by the Diplomatic Council in 2016. In this function he regularly participates in the international UN conferences thereby representing the interests of the civil society.

Digitization specialists who wish to be included in the expert network of the Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation must undergo a three-stage certification. As a bonus they receive the quality seal “Trusted Advisor” and are officially recommended by the DCOS Institute for their use in projects.

The Internet of Things spans the globe

As a pioneer and Diplomatic Council Chairman International Relations Otto Schell refers to studies according to which by the end of 2020 around 75 billion devices are going to be connected to the Internet. Around 90 percent of the world population over 6 years will be in possession of a mobile end device by then. The worldwide data volume is estimated to reach 44 gigabytes by this time. “IoT, Mobile, Big Data and Cloud are the digital drivers behind the digital transformation. Whether a citizen or a consumer, the goal should be to employ these developments in order to digitally connect services and products within the frame of social architectures or civil society without neglecting the essential characteristics of a fair balance” says Otto Schell with regard to his view of the future. The Internet of Things stands for a vision that the Internet is extended to the real world in which many daily things become part of the Internet. Hence, things can be equipped with information or serve as physical points to access Internet services. This opens up far-reaching and unprecedented opportunities.

Practical with partners

As Chairman International Relations, Transformation Advisor at the PDA Group, Board Member of the SAP user group (DSAG) and Global SAP Business Architect at General Motors, Otto Schell is practical person.

“We look forward to collaborating with further partners who strive to assume responsibility and drive the digital transformation along the sustainable development goals of the United Nations” says the Head of Institute Otto Schell.

Global Silicon Valley Initiative

As part of the Otto Schell Institute, the „Global Silicon Valley Initiative“ also welcomes partners. The Initiative’s aim is to counteract the current concentration of the digital society in the Californian Silicon Valley by offering a global alternative. Amongst the most visited websites in the world, five are based in Silicon Valley, the sixth website is in China whereas Europe is lagging far behind. Otto Schell comments: “California dictates the rules for the global digital economy. Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google & Co have claimed the prerogative of interpretation of the modern world. New start-ups such as Airbnb or Uber with a global reach emerge permanently – all initiated in Silicon Valley. A European strategy is not recognizable and despite the fact that Silicon Valley is hardly bigger than Berlin, it is a thousand times more powerful.

As a counterbalance to the “Global Silicon Valley“, the intention of the Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation is to bring together startups, venture capitals and mentors from all over the world in order to create “a similar mixture of spirit and money as in California”. In this context, the Institute intends to focus especially on all types of virtual collaborations in order to connect talents, advisors and sponsors from around the world. Otto Schell says: “We don’t want to leave the digital world to Silicon Valley only. What we strive for is an Internet of All Nations; you could also name it the Internet of the United Nations”.

Network of certified DC Consultants

Whereas the Institute focuses on the work contents such as studies, white papers, events and master showcase projects (blueprints for digitalization) and the Global Silicon Valley, a network of certified DC consultants shall be available to support the target group diplomacy and business in implementing their concrete projects. The DC consultant network is made up of experienced DC members to make sure that the high business and ethical requirements are in line with the Charter of the United Nations. The consultant network is headed by Dr. Horst Walther who holds the position of DC Commissioner for UN Affairs.

Fair balance of interests

With regard to the digilisation, the Diplomatic Council pursues the target of equal opportunities for all people all over the world. The DC Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation strives for a fair balance of interests, which satisfies the involved nations, the civil society, the academic world and the private sector.

Interview with Otto Schell

The Chief Disruption Officer as an alternative to Chief Digital Officer – an Interview with Otto Schell.

The CDO is dead, long live the CDO

Everyone wants digitalisation. The only problem is: digitalisation often falls short and just gets automated 1:1 or dematerialized without actual added value being considered.

In that case, a Digital Officer isn’t going to be much help. Do we instead need a Disruption Officer for the transformation who concentrates on technology, focuses on potential incoming threats and chances in the digital era and who, if necessary, will jump up on a table and shout for change if a company is missing out on or oversleeping the future? It might sound funny but it could actually come true. Who could be more fitting for an interview on this topic than Otto Schell, who himself has just become insight named Chief Disruption Officer at his company, because of his approach and Member of Board of Directors of DSAG –i.e. representative of all German speaking SAP-Users- and above all- father of the concept of “Transformation 4.0”.

We are glad he has found the time to answer our questions and to widen our perspectives with his experience and inspiration.

1. From Transformation 4.0 to Demanding a Disruption-Officer

Before many had even understood Industry 4.0, you were already urging toward a Transformation 4.0. Luckily many followed. Now you’re demanding a new CDO – Chief Disruption Officer – as a transformational alternative to the technical orientated Chief Digital Officer. What’s wrong with Digitalisation? Should we be worrying about our future?

Otto Schell:

Now that we’ve finally realized that something needs to be done, it appears that a lot of it is being approached egotistically. We´re digitalising, but often we´re just optimising silos or trying to bypass existing organisations with parallel “Start Ups” or appointing Chief Digital Officers without first checking on expectation and the direction of transformation for an organisation.

All of this has little to do with the transformation I have in mind, but with activism. “Taking part” vs. new strategic visions. We fall for this all too often. Digital Cargo-Cults or replacements will not save us in global competition.
So, demanding a CDO* as Chief Disruption Officer is more than justified, even if not every change will be disruptive and I’m not interested in starting a fundamental discussion about disruption. But we must also break through our old mental boundaries and find the unknown, instead of simply technically optimising or marginally changing what is already there. World market leadership in times of transparency and agility of an Internet of Things simply looks different.

2. The Chief Disruption Officer as a Player against Insistency

Every innovation faces resistance from previous old logic.
What does a Chief Disruption Officer have to offer, that a Chief Digital Officer doesn’t? Is it enough for one person to just question everything?

Otto Schell:

Ultimately, it’s not just about questioning but about presenting alternatives. You can only be credible if you tread new paths besides merely delivering. In other words, a new job description for a classica Chief Digital Officer (CDO) isn’t enough. It’s something that concerns the whole organisation and its environment. Goals a not clear, how do you want write the down and how long do you want to agree on a piece of paper?
Nothing’s going to happen just because someone gives you a new title; if you don’t walk the walk or if you’re too caught up about the next promotion – because, as a real Chief Disruption Officer (CDO*), you have to push the envelope. That’s what I try to embody; it’s not an act, it’s the mind-set for permanent change that drives me.

3. Skills of the Chief Disruption Officer?

A Disruption Officer could fail to be accepted. Which skills do they bring on board for success? Why does GM have its money on Otto Schell? What would you look out for in this position?

Otto Schell:

Take teams along is one of the keys to success. There is so much talent in our companies, so many ideas that are talked down or that end in frustration. Another key to success is “being a role model”. When I leave a meeting, everyone needs to question themselves their “relevance for tomorrow”. Only when people see that I do the same, they adapt and drive change.

Besides that, it’s important to “deliver” as I said before. As agile you want to be, success is measured by delivery. That is what really gets respect for this type of position. At the end of the day, it’s the facts that count.

4. Network of Disruption!

A Disruption Officer alone cannot meet the demands of disruption as successfully as a network can. As chairman of DSAG and representative of the Diplomatic Council, you are an experienced networker. What are your plans for the future?

Otto Schell:

We live in an amazing time for our generation. The IoT allows us to shape and influence. There is no ready product, there is evolution, and we are in the middle. Connecting high technology engagements with consumers’ interest, nor forgetting aspects of integration. That not only means breaking boundaries but acting within this network- maybe in a different way, like I said, everyone is relevant somehow.

Government responsibility, legislation terms- that isn’t what the people of IoT are interested in, but social architectures will determine us. Power games will change between governance, companies and even within cultures and have to be balanced. We have to be responsible now much more advanced than used, speed matters. Whether robots pay tax will be something we have to think about in order to maintain social balance. My plans for the future are simple: addressing these topics globally with the generation that will take over- for as long as I’m still relevant.

Doing so in a network of like-minded people will raise the success rate for all of us…

Thank you for the interview!

Trusted Advisor

The Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation (DCOS Institute) has started the certification process for advisors who are specialists for digitalization.

In order to obtain the “DC Trusted Advisor“ seal, the following three steps are mandatory:

  • provide a comprehensive written curriculum vitae detailing besides the general career also the professional performances, the communicative achievements and the ethical actions
  • provide a 1-2 page white paper describing the motivation for applying for the DC Trusted Advisor seal
  • be available for a video conference (30 to 60 minutes) with one of the principals of the DCOS so the principal can verify the submitted documents and get a better picture of the applicant

In addition, the applicant is requested to submit a voluntary commitment and confirm that he or she strictly adheres to the DC Code of Ethics when carrying out his actives as an advisor.

Digital Leaders Talk with CEO Otto Schell


Industrial partners, associations and executives looking for an exchange with the DCOS, are invited to contact the Head of Institute for further information on membership and collaborations:

Consulting companies and consultants interesting in obtaining a certification from the Diplomatic Council Otto Schell Institute for Digital Transformation, are invited to contact DC Commissioner for UN Affairs: Dr. Horst Walther,