Seminar | Information Systems

Systems Engineering for Digital Innovations


The following unit is an elective in the Master’s Programme in Information Systems (IS) at the University of Cologne and addresses master students in their second year. In this unit, we simulate a project-based digital innovation lab. The objective is to develop a novel digital solution to a chosen sustainability innovation challenge problem. With this objective, we have two specific foci: 1. Address a Sustainability Innovation Challenge Problem and 2. Develop a Digital Artifact as a Solution to the Innovation Challenge. We define a sustainability innovation challenge as a problem of either environmental or social but not primarily commercial value. As inspiration, consider the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations that provide a set of goals and agenda for peace and prosperity. The digital solution must consist of both hardware and software components. For the hardware components, we will provide a selected hardware technology stack (e.g., Arduino Development Platform) and budget for acquiring extensions. In teams, the students’ task is then to develop a software solution for the hardware technology stack such that a digital innovation can be realized addressing a freely chosen problem setting. We deem this course valuable and complementary to the traditional IS curriculum. First, students are presented with an alternative perspective to develop meaningful solutions with the help of information systems by seeking primarily social and environmental value. Second, students are provided with a high degree of autonomy concerning problem selection and usage of underlying technology (within the course boundaries, e.g., budget available, sustainable development goals). Third, a strong emphasis is set on creativity and thinking outside the box, which we deem complementary to traditional capability development goals of the IS curriculum.  

Learning outcomes

Students …

… understand what digital innovation means and learn about important related concepts.

… learn about potentials of emergent digital technologies.

… understand challenges related to designing information systems for digital innovations.

… develop an idea for a digital innovation by incorporating latest digital technologies.

… develop a socio-technical artifact based on their idea.

… organize themselves and work in independent teams.

… manage time, team and project conflicts independently.

… communicate processes and outcomes to relevant stakeholder groups.

Number of credit hours per week 4
Total number of credit hours 180