In general, an algorithm determines which exact trading rules are used to solve problems. This is exactly how computer programs work: Using an algorithm (determined by humans), the program knows how data is to be processed in order to achieve the desired result.


Application-oriented research has practical relevance. This means that the research results or developments can subsequently be used in the industrial sector.

Artificial Intelligence

Many human thought processes can nowadays be digitally reproduced, these programs are called artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial intelligence is used to try to transfer human thinking, especially solving problems, to programs. Such programs function with the help of complex algorithms and large amounts of data and have already arrived in our everyday lives. One example of this is so-called chatbots which use automated chat systems to provide customers with fast service.



Bitcoin, with capitalized “B”, denotes a decentralized booking system. Every computer on which the open source software Bitcoin is installed automatically participates in the peer-to-peer network. With the help of the native crypto currency bitcoin, with lower-case "b", values or property rights to the crypto currency are transferred in the network. The transactions are secured by cryptographic procedures and are traceable for all participants. This makes for a pseudoanonymity in the network, since no clear names of the participants are used and the transaction history is transparent.


Blockchain describes a distributed network to manage peer-to-peer transactions. Information about a transaction is written in blocks and linked chronologically via cryptographic procedures (“block chain”). The blockchain grows with the number of stored transaction data and is usually transparent for each member of the network. Since there is no central administrative authority that regulates the arrangement and correctness of the data or its transfer, so-called consensus procedures within the network ensure that all participants agree on an identical version of the blockchain.



Complementors are entrepreneurial actors and partners who offer subsidiary products and services on a platform. They can be helpful in expanding platforms in size and build complex ecosystems. In the context of the increasing integration of complementors, the possibility of benefiting from direct and indirect network effects is growing.


Connectivity is the networking of devices or virtual units like apps over digital networks like the Internet.

Cyber-physical systems

Cyber-physical systems are a network of mechanical components, software and information and communication technologies. They play a central role for the industry 4.0, as they can control the processes of complex systems and infrastructures largely autonomously by exchanging data in real time. This improves efficiency, flexibility and security in fields of application such as production, logistics, energy and mobility.




Data is raw, unanalyzed facts. It can be structured or unstructured. Using various processing techniques, it can be converted into information.

Data Mining

Data mining refers to the automatic evaluation of large amounts of data. The aim is to discover correlations or regularities.

Design Thinking

Design Thinking is an approach to solve complex problems with a strong user focus. With a variety of methods and a clear process structure, it develops a detailed understanding of the problem and supports the finding of solution ideas. Design Thinking promotes creative problem solving from new perspectives.

Digitalization paradox

Companies often invest in digitalization, data access and data analysis. Often, however, this is not accompanied by the desired value creation or the expected increase in sales. This phenomenon describes the digitalization paradox.


The German word “Digitalisierung” can be translated as “digitization” or “digitalization”.
Digitization is the process of converting analogue information into digital form. Documents that used to be available only in analogue form (e.g. books or films) can now be read or downloaded in digital form. As a result, this data can be collected and analyzed.
However, digitalization describes the process of incorporating digital und data-based technologies into business operations for new opportunities of value creation.



Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 means a change in industrial production. It becomes more flexible and can be adapted individually because industrial goods and processes are networked with each other. The data exchange made possible by this intelligent networking ensures that machines and systems control, monitor and optimize production processes largely independently.

Internet of Things

The internet makes it possible to connect objects (machines, equipment, products) and virtual units (apps). Data can be exchanged via this networking – also known as connectivity. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the totality of these connected objects. Via the IoT, physical and virtual objects can exchange or communicate data with each other, but also with people. Possible uses range from human-machine interactions (e.g. in production lines) to machines taking over complex tasks in the sense of Industry 4.0. This industrial form is also known as IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things).



In a blockchain network, a peer refers to the known (neighboring) participants of the network. In contrast to the classical server-client architecture, a peer-to-peer network (P2P) has no central instance (server), which is why transactions between the participants function differently. To make state changes (such as transactions), new blocks must be generated for the block chain. This requires the actors to validate the process. Only after this confirmation does a transaction take place.


A digital platform is an internet-based, imaginary marketplace that enables the interactions and transactions of the various participants (offerers, demanders and complementors). The resulting network guarantees added value for at least one of the participants.



The term servitization describes a process in which the manufacturing industry evolves in the direction of services. This means that the company no longer solely offers products, but also other associated services. One example is the maintenance of machines. A connection with digitization can be established if machine data is used to predict the wear of certain parts as accurately as possible.

Smart Contracts

Smart Contracts are not contracts in legal terms – although one might assume this on the basis of their name. A smart contract can depict automatable facts without much scope for evaluation, but not complex legal relationships. Rather, they are self-executing computer protocols that perform transactions according to programmed if-then rules. The best-known platform for Smart Contracts is called Etherum. Within the Bitcoin network, Smart Contracts are only possible to a very limited extent.

Smart Factory

The Smart Factory is part of Industry 4.0 and describes the vision of an intelligent production environment in which machines, plants and logistics systems (cyber-physical systems) organize themselves and automatically optimize processes without the need for human intervention. The basis for this is the exchange of data through the networking of industrial goods and processes via connectivity technologies and the Internet of Things.


Socio-economic research focuses on both the economy and society. Economic developments can change society (e.g. the smartphone). In the same way, social change can influence the economy (e.g. the desire for a better work-life balance).  


Value Creation

Value creation is the economic performance of a company. The value chain refers to all necessary processes (e.g. supply – production – delivery). In the value creation network, these steps are no longer linear, but move along different channels that influence each other. For example, this gives customers more influence over the product to be manufactured.


Web 3.0

On the conventional internet we use every day, information is transmitted (Web 1.0). The Internet of Things (IoT), also known as Web 2.0, focuses on machine communication between smart devices. The next development step, the Internet of Value, is the secure storage and transmission of values on the internet. The values can be of material or immaterial origin.

Work 4.0

The term work 4.0 covers questions about the future of work. The aim is to find out how we intend to shape and organize the future of the working world, which has changed as a result of digitization. This includes considerations on technical innovations and working-time models as well as on the opportunities and risks associated with them.

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