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Key Research Initiative


How data analytics and artificial intelligence are transforming society and organizations


The Key Research Initiative (KRI) “Analytics and Transformation” bundles and integrates expertise and knowledge within the WiSo Faculty (and beyond), under four major themes:

  1. Customer and Business Analytics
  2. Artificial Intelligence
  3. Digital Transformation
  4. Digital Innovation


We study cross-cutting research topics that address key challenges of the ongoing digitisation in business and society. We work within the four major themes  and their intersections in a fundamentally transdisciplinary manner.

In concrete terms, the objectives of the Initiative are:

  • to generate novel insights and findings and disseminate this knowledge in international top-tier journals,
  • to inform organisations and regulators using evidence-based approaches,
  • to develop the next generation of scholars with an interest in examining the impact of data analytics and artificial intelligence on management, organisations, and society,
  • to enhance visibility and reputation of the University of Cologne, and the WiSo Faculty in particular, as a leading institution for transdisciplinary research on relevant and timely questions related to the digital transformation of the economy and society.


All of the Key Research Initiative’s current members are involved in multidisciplinary work. They are affiliated with chairs of relevant disciplines from business informatics, entrepreneurship, supply chain management to marketing.

Additional researchers from these fields jointly support the Key Research Initiative.


The members of the KRI have published research papers related to the focal topic areas in renowned scientific journals. They are constantly publishing scientifically significant and up-to-date articles.

Joint activities

The following activities will foster the exchange of ideas and collaboration:

  • regular, joint research seminar series
  • jointly supervised PhD dissertation projects
  • practitioner symposium
  • international visitor programme

These activities are crucial for achieving the mentioned goals and to provide a platform for exchange and collaboration within and outside the KRI. They have an immediate impact on the visibility of the WiSo Faculty to attractive young researchers, the international research community, and media and business practice.


We collaborate intensively within a wide network of internal, national, and international partners. Our partner institutions include the Department of Design & Innovation at Case Western Reserve University, the Centre for Future Enterprise at Queensland University of Technology, and the Swedish Centre for Digital Innovation. We are also involved in an international consortium dedicated to building a national adaptive research infrastructure (BERD@NFDI). We are involved as mentors in the EXIST-Programm. We further collaborate with the Centre for Business Intelligence and Analytics at the Queensland University of Technology, the Morrison Center for Marketing and Data Analytics  at UCLA, Los Angeles the Marketing Accountability Standards Board in Chicago, and the Excellence Startup Center Gateway at the University of Cologne.


While our focus within the KRI framework is on research, we ensure transfer into research-led education in three ways:

  • (New) Master in Business Analytics: relevant research will inform key content areas of the new M.Sc. Business Analytics and Econometrics, in particular the core course “Digitalization and Data Analytics” and the elective course “Management and Applied Business Analytics”.
  • Existing masters offerings: research expertise is already applied in existent masters-level course areas. For instance, courses in the specialisations “Business Analytics and Data Science” and “Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship” in the Masters of Science in Information Systems are offered.
  • Management Education: The KRI’s research is the platform for offerings at the University of Cologne Executive School. Examples include the Certificate Programme “Digital Leadership and Innovation” and the Open Programmes “Digital Innovation Leadership and Management” and “Digital Marketing Strategy”. They are among the most popular electives of the Cologne-Rotterdam Executive MBA programme.


Our research initiative seeks to foster close linkages with practitioners in order to transfer current research findings and to be inspired by pressing and current new topics and challenges. To ensure regular and intense exchanges, we implement different measures like a practitioner symposium. Building on our broad experience and relations with companies and other stakeholders, we are planning an annual or bi-annual nationwide practitioner event. This conference demonstrates the relevance of the KRI to practice and society. It offers a platform for showcasing our research and the experiences of practitioners. We expect this event to generate high media attention and to increase WiSo’s visibility.

In addition, we will cooperate with companies and other institutions to develop and implement new analytic tools and support the digital transformation process within companies with our expertise.