Customer meetings in the metaverse
Björn Radde is Vice President Digital Experience at T-Systems International and author of the book Growth Hacking LinkedIn. He talks about digitalisation, his role as a manager and personal branding.
The Agenda Podcast
The Agenda brought to you by Sherpany uncovers the journey leaders take from facing challenges to making decisions. In this unique series of podcasts, leaders talk candidly with podcast moderator, Ingo Notthoff. #LeadingTogether
In this podcast episode you’ll hear from:
Björn Radde is Vice President Digital Experience at T-Systems, International and author of the book “Growth Hacking LinkedIn”. Before joining T-Systems, he was Director of Digital Experience at Sabre and Vice President of Digital Marketing at Trust International. Prior to this, he was Director of Digital Marketing & E-Commerce at Okanda, an internet startup in the meetings sector, and Head of E-Commerce at Steigenberger Hotel Group.
After studying economics, specialising in online marketing and e-commerce, he worked at T-Online International AG and later at Deutsche Telekom AG in their Products & Innovation department. He describes himself as an e-commerce enthusiastic digital native with a customer-centric perspective.
However, Björn Radde is also something else entirely. Beyond his day job, he has built up a respected reputation as a digital marketing expert. His personal brand performs and he is followed by over 20,000 people on LinkedIn alone, who appreciate his high-quality content.
In this episode, he talks to podcast host Ingo Notthoff about the digitalisation of companies in Germany, his role as a manager and motivating employees. He himself is very active on LinkedIn and talks about his motivation to produce content almost daily as a personal brand. He also talks about meetings and current digital trends.
This episode answers the following questions:
- What does digital experience management mean in the B2B sector?
- What makes a good manager?
- How has leadership style evolved over the years?
- What motivates people to be active on LinkedIn every day — even at weekends?
- Which digital trends do companies need to keep an eye on?
*Please note: The podcast episode is available in German.
Customer meetings in the metaverse
It is said that German companies are lagging behind digitalisation. How do you see that?
"We've actually been digitising for decades. You probably know it too: you had your first cassette recorder, then a Discman, then an MP3 player. Everything has become more and more digitised and now you're streaming music. [...] And that's how it is for me in digitalisation as a whole. We've been digitising for decades and it's not going to stop. So yes, every company is lagging behind because it's not going to stop. We will be dealing with digitalisation for centuries to come.
There is certainly room for improvement, especially in the public sector, where I would like to see more digitalisation in Germany compared to other countries. But I wouldn't say that German companies are lagging behind per se; there are companies in every country that need to do more. In Germany, perhaps the public sector could do more. But people here often look across the pond, to Silicon Valley and the like. And then they often say, my God, the Americans, even Korea or if you look at Israel, for example, they are much further ahead when it comes to digitalisation and start-ups. [...]
These companies have one, I wouldn't say advantage, but one factor: they are a little more relaxed when it comes to data protection. As I said, it's not an advantage for me, because I believe that data protection is something that is particularly emphasised in Europe and in Germany and that I also think is important and right. That's how it should be. We must try to do the best we can with data protection and thus be pioneers for the world. [...] All in all, I think we are well positioned in Europe.
What makes a good manager, a good leader?
For me, it's leading the way, standing up for what you believe in and being able to do it yourself. So when I ask my team to do something, I know what's behind it because I've gone through all these steps myself. I know how long it takes to create a website because I have created websites myself and I still do that today. [...] Even with AI, when I say use AI in a team, because I tried it out myself beforehand. I think that's also what makes a manager. That I don't demand something from the team that isn't possible. And I say I've done it myself, I know it works. And I can help you to realise it. [...]
To go ahead with ideas, to stand behind the team, to push the team a little on one side, to go in the right direction. But even if there's a headwind, then to stand in front of the team again, to intercept this headwind and also to see myself more as part of the team than the person sitting on top, who isn't anyway. So if you do, then you tend to lead the way, but you don't sit on top, that's not my understanding of leadership.
How do you motivate your people to stay on the ball?
I hope that I simply convey so much passion that they realise: Yes, if Björn has so much passion, then I'll give it a try. For one thing, we have regular all-in calls. I try to talk about trends for five to ten minutes in these calls. What's currently happening on the market? The other day I was talking - not about augmented reality, it was more of a fake reality, i.e. a manipulated reality. [...] A bag manufacturer had suddenly sent bags travelling through Paris instead of trams.
Bringing in ideas like this and simply motivating people to engage with new topics by showing them what it could look like and how it works. I think the motivation comes more from living by example and talking about it."
Companies need to get to grips with artificial intelligence: On the one hand, of course, it's a relief for themselves. The other aspect is that if they don't do it, the competition will. That means they will be left behind.
How has your management style evolved in recent years?
"As you get older, you simply grow through experience. That sounds so banal. Every father says it to his child: When you get older, you'll know what I mean. And that's how it is. As you gain more and more experience, you can pass on more. And I've realised in recent years that I simply enjoy passing on knowledge and sharing my experience.
I think my leadership has changed to the extent that when I have staff meetings [...] I say: Watch out, I would have done it this way and that way and I would do it this way and that way, but the decision is up to you. I always try to awaken the intrinsic in the person. I think I used to say, this is how it's done, and now I tend to say, how would you do it and why don't you show me your ideas and I'd rather let people or employees come up with them."
How do you use meetings as a management tool?
"I use meetings for one-to-ones because I think there has to be time to have a one-to-one consultation with the employees. As my team is scattered, we very rarely actually have a physical meeting together. [...] I use it less when we have things to discuss or for escalation. [...] I've also realised that it's rather difficult to do daily stand-ups in marketing. I work on the campaign on Mondays, I'm still working on the campaign on Tuesdays."
What motivates you to be visible on LinkedIn every day, even at the weekend?
"It's fun. It's the fun and the passion that motivates me to do this and also this sharing, just passing on knowledge and saying: Hey, I think I've looked into this topic, I'll just share this knowledge now and enjoy discussing it with others. That motivates me. And it's not like I'm on LinkedIn and posting every day. I create my content at the weekend. It's kind of my hobby to sit down at the weekend, usually on Sundays, and spend an hour or two thinking about what's relevant at the moment, what I've read recently and try to curate it. And then I plan the content for the whole week.
In other words, I know exactly what's coming on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because I plan it for the weekend. During the week, I only have to worry about interacting with the comments on my post and getting into the discussion. I don't have to think about what I'm going to post today, because I don't think I could manage that in my job. But I do take that half hour in the morning. It's a bit like brushing my teeth, I brush my teeth every day, so I do it every morning, go on LinkedIn, see what my post is doing.
But the motivation is just pure fun, others play football, I like being on LinkedIn."
What digital trends do you currently see that companies need to keep an eye on and engage with?
"I think these are the obvious ones. I don't think there's any question that they need to get to grips with artificial intelligence. For several reasons: One is, of course, that it makes things easier for themselves, for the companies. The other is that if they don't do it, the competition will. That means they will be left behind. And if they do it wrong, it can also have bad consequences [...]
They definitely have to deal with it. The next thing I'm still holding on to is metaverse, or virtual reality, especially in the B2B sector. At T-Systems, we hold some of our customer meetings in the metaverse and work together on solutions. We have artificial robots there or have set up an artificial supply chain and can explain things very well in it. So I don't think this will go away in the B2B sector. It's already standard. I don't yet know whether it will become widely accepted in the B2C sector.
A year or a year and a half ago I said, yes, at the moment it's probably more of a nice-to-have for some companies. But in the B2B sector, metaverse or virtual reality is definitely a technology that companies must and should get to grips with. And in the B2C sector, it's still social media that's coming our way, with virtual influencers and AI-generated influencers. How do companies deal with this? How can they use it to their advantage?"
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