Swisscom Visit

The first company visit with our delegation led us to the headquarter of Swisscom in Ittigen. After a quick introduction by a former FHNW student to some important figures regarding Swisscom’s business environment, a data security specialist presented us the main challenges in data security. Whereas trust is a positive feeling in personal relationships, it could pose a major threat for security systems. In order to make a system as save as possible, it is essential to create distrust within a certain network system. That prevents full access to a whole network after an attack. Since it is very difficult, time-consuming, and costly to detect the numerous attacks which are being performed on Swisscom’s network every day, the hackers can be roughly categorized into vandals, hacktivists, criminals and governments. In order to improve and strengthen their security systems, Swisscom uses an interesting approach where employees are being allocated to a team of defense and a team of attackers. This approach aims to detect potential security issues and hopefully leads to the improvement of their defense capabilities.

The second part of the presentation was devoted to design thinking. During this workshop, we have learnt the approach of hear – create – deliver. We started off by interviewing another student about his interests, needs and wants for the perfect wallet. Once we knew each other’s preferences we were asked to draw the ideal wallet, whereon we reflected on our first drawing and generated 5 alternatives which were supposed to meet the opposite’s desired ideal wallet as good as possible. After presenting our solutions, we were asked to build our final solution which led to very interesting and quaint results.

The first presentation gave us a basic understanding about data security and the potential impact of hacker attacks. It was insane to see how many times such businesses actually are being confronted with attacks and inappropriate content. The design thinking workshop introduced us to the process of how to analyse a market and develop an appropriate product. The main message was to rather do than overthink things in the early stages of product development.

U.S. Embassy Visit

The US Embassy manages the official relationship between the United States and the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein. They represent the interests of the United States. One of the main commission is to issues passport, birth certificate and other documents for US citizen and visas for non- US citizen. Another important commission is to talk with Swiss politicians about taxes, jobs, etc.

In case of the US-policy there are two main tasks. One about the media and the other about the culture and admission. On the media task they have to monitor the newspaper, television and radio and rapport (and sometimes comment them) to Washington.

In the US Embassy, the nationality of the employees is a mix of US citizen and Swiss or people who live in Switzerland for a long time. For the US Embassy, it is important to have a mix as the officers with US citizen change after three years their location. Locals who work in embassy help US officers to get a better understanding of the culture and language.

The visit of the US Embassy was very interesting. Especially because they give us an insight about the pros and cons of the life of an officer and how to become an officer of the US Embassy.

Culture USA

The purpose of the lecture ‘Culture USA’ from Kathy Hartmann-Campbell was to ensure that delegation members are able to make the best possible experience in the United States of America. Furthermore, to ensure that participants understand how culture is impacting people and how small talk is practically working in the appropriate way when it comes to networking in the USA. To fulfill the mentioned goals, the lecture has been conducted in form of an interactive workshop.

Students had to name words which they would use to describe their gained experiences and impressions of US Americans. Terminologies like outgoing, patriotic, open-minded, conservative, divided, mass consumers, shallow, traditional and self-focused came up. The lecturer was happy with the result and stated that the mentioned words are not reflecting the truth but are also not completely non-connected to US Americans. The words represent a mix between the given values and the gained experience of each participant. That is also the reason why some of the mentioned terminologies are contradicting each other.

Culture is a word with various definitions, from “programming of the mind” to “just how we do things here”. After a short discussion, the participants of the workshop concluded, that culture is mostly shaped by historic events, given geographical conditions as well as by minor players like the media. For the USA with its young history, the most important historic event was colonialism. People came to the USA with the drive to seek freedom and to be innovative and explore the limitless possibilities such a new land can offer. This led to the American dream culture and the understanding that if you want to, you can do anything. So, succeeding in the USA is a point of high importance. Many people still believe in the “nothing is impossible if you try hard enough”-philosophy. Unfortunately, this is not anymore like that in reality which leads to a lack of solidarity in certain social layers and a general division of the popularity.

Genome Editing

The Genome Editing conference was given by Dr. Daniela Suter, a biologist that talked about the human genome, what CRISPR is and what it is used on, new technology regarding genomes, the definition of epigenetics, the importance of data science in medicine, breakthroughs on cloning, genetic testing and of course, the ethics that are involved on this subject. She explained to us basic concepts, starting by defining what a genome is. She then talked about Gen Suisse, the company she works for.

She then gave us a biological explanation of the genomes, and continued by talking about the initiative to read a human genome. Some data she shared with us was the cost of the project, the effort, and the advances that had happened in only twenty years. About CRISPR, she basically said that it was a new technology that could change the world, and that it is doing just that. It is used on rats, food, fuel, surgery and drugs. Every aspect of human life can be affected by it. And on the topic of epigenetics, she made it very clear that your experiences may impact your DNA since the codes are passed on your DNA, but they are choices you have and can revert. With the data, scientists will be able to build sequences that will form patterns and help fight and give a better understanding of diseases. She talked about cloning, and how it has evolved from being an idea to a rapidly advancing reality, since just a couple of months ago a monkey was effectively cloned. And she finished the conference with a couple of ethical questions that were left open, because there is no correct way of answering them.

Driving Innovation

Mario Schmuziger from company Zühlke hold a refreshing presentation on the topic “driving innovation – how organization discover, select and execute on innovation.” But what is innovation and what’s not?
One definition of innovation says that it is “the process of translating an idea or invention a good or service that creates value of for which customers will pay”. No Innovations are ideas or services that sells well but the customer loses money. So there is no added value.
Global competition today puts all industries under pressure to be innovate. And there are some very popular companies like google, Uber, tesla that everybody knows. They are common for their innovations, which have a big impact and can changing the future.
Very important of driving innovation is the adaption rate. Mores Law implies the exponential growth. This law tells for example, that the performance of the processors doubles approximately every year.
One of the key things for innovation is to know as followed:

  1. Understanding target group: Because you have to know which are the drivers.
  2. Ideation: Be as creative as possible.
  3. Prototyping: The earlier the decision for an idea, the better and the lower the costs. For that
    you should go into discussion as soon as possible with customers.
  4. Testing: It is very simple and useful to do a testing. Furthermore, repeat the testing from time
    to time.
  5. Development: Ask customers, which added features they like.
  6. Operations: Be reminded that things are changing all the time.

In addition, Schmuziger gave us some take aways. He mentioned that digitally comes, if somebody wants or not. Go with the time and make use of opportunities but also be aware of the risks. Be brave because you can not lose anything and definitely go beyond borders.
Finally, he told how to hold up the innovation over the years as a company. It is simple, because the staff of Zühlke get educated in different topics so that they can expand their experiences. Keep people up to date and speed for driving innovation.

Blockchain Technology

Kevin Leuthard and Mirco Klaus introduced us to the processes of the blockchain. It was a complex but an interesting topic.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger. It works in a decentralized network and guarantees security through broadcasting all new information to all participants. Therefore, each transaction adds to the ledger. In order to get the hash value, you need all inputs. An immutable record with fine stamp is added each time a new transaction is added. After a block of the chain is filled the block gets a final value that is incorporated in the new one. Advantage is that there is no financial intermediary needed. The other big potential is the so called smart contracts. As all the regulations and transactions are recorded, and thus secured and controlled. Not all information (private) can be recorded on the blockchain, as it does not allow data to be deleted. There is however a private blockchain, where there are parties with more authority and the number of participants is limited. More suitable for industrial use or internal use.

This technology has a great potential for humanity. It is important to take this transition, and help people in their ordinary life.

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