July 25, 2023
**New ASU hire Julian Lehmann** says digital technology is **reshaping** business and society
Editor’s note: **New Faces on Campus** is a new monthly feature by ASU News showcasing faculty members hired in the **2022–23 academic year**.
Julian Lehmann hails from a musical family, has released an album of hip-hop music and has a band but is secretive about its name.He says they aren’t very good, so he will keep his day job.Lehmann is an assistant professor with the Department of Information Systems at the W. P. Carey School of Business. He is considered an **expert** in his field — he helps businesses and startup firms create strategic value from digital technology.The German-born academic is a **new face** at Arizona State University, hired last fall.He has two goals while at ASU: **conduct impactful research** that supports ASU’s position as a global leader in innovation, and **mentor students** who wish to become successful entrepreneurs.
ASU News recently spoke to Lehmann to ask about his background, his path to academia and why he’s tight-lipped about his music.
Editor’s note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
**Question**: Can you tell us a bit about your background — where you’re from and how you ended up in academia?
**Answer**: I grew up in Germany and joined ASU in fall 2022. My path into academia was not straightforward. After high school, I had a strong desire to work but I also wanted to continue learning. This passion led me to enroll in a program where I could study information systems while working as a tech consultant at (professional services company) Accenture. My initial engagement involved working with a prominent telecommunications provider, which I found immensely fulfilling. However, my aspirations shifted toward strategy consulting, which required me to pursue a master’s degree and, ideally, a doctorate. So I applied to several PhD programs and secured a scholarship for a PhD program at the University of Cologne, where I got my master’s degree. So I was really trying to set myself up for a career in strategy consulting.
Unexpectedly, during a research stay in Australia at the Queensland University of Technology, where I was writing my master’s degree thesis, I worked with a remarkable advisor. This advisor later moved to the University of Cologne and became my PhD advisor, and together, we embarked on a captivating research project. Our focus was on hardware ventures, exploring their journey from prototype to final product despite significant resource constraints. This experience opened my eyes to the thrill of conducting research and deepened my passion for the field. That was an eye-opener, and I discovered that I loved doing research. At that moment, I decided to pursue an academic career and have never regretted it.
**Question**: What is your area of research or academic focus? What are you most excited about regarding your research?
**Answer**: My research focuses on **leveraging digital technology** for strategic value creation in firms. Specifically, I explore how firms can reconfigure, enhance, and replace their market offerings through the effective use of digital technology. … What truly captivates me about my research area is the persistent challenges firms face in adapting to digital technology. These challenges encompass how firms interact with their customers, the redesign of their product and service offerings, and the adjustments required to align with the digital landscape.
My goal is to develop novel explanations and theories that shed light on how firms can **harness the transformative power** of digital technology. Unraveling these complexities and providing insights into effective strategies for leveraging digital technology is at the heart of my research endeavors. Furthermore, researching digital technology allows me to be at the forefront of the transformative force of our time, enabling me to understand its profound impact.
**Digital technology is reshaping** the rules of business and society.
**Question**: When did you realize you wanted to study this field?
**Answer**: I always had an affinity for technology. I built my own PCs and also a 3D printer. However, I realized the magnitude of digital technology’s impact when **groundbreaking startups like Facebook, Instagram, Apple, and Uber** began to reshape our daily experiences and challenge conventional notions of value creation and organizing. I was fascinated by these developments and felt compelled to delve deeper into understanding the unique properties of digital technology, how it differs from previous technological advancements, and why it holds such immense potential to shape our lives in profound ways.
The sheer scale and implications of digital technology fascinated me. I wanted to explore what made it so distinctive and how it had the power to disrupt established organizations and industries. **Digital technology is reshaping** the rules of business and society. This transformation motivated me to pursue an academic career focusing on digital innovation and entrepreneurship.
**Question**: How do you want to see this field advance for the betterment of society?
**Answer**: The past decade has witnessed a profound societal transformation driven by technology and, with the rise of AI, this transformation seems far from over. I firmly believe that digital technology holds great potential to address the grand challenges we face today. From agriculture to transportation and resource management, its impact is already evident. … In agriculture, digital tools and precision farming techniques have revolutionized productivity and sustainability. Similarly, advancements in transportation, including autonomous vehicles and smart logistics, have improved efficiency and mobility.
Digital solutions have also played a critical role in resource management, optimizing energy usage, and promoting conservation. Recognizing the transformative potential of digital technology, interdisciplinary collaboration and rigorous research are essential to drive progress. Of course, this also requires policymakers to set ground rules that define the appropriate use of digital technology. We can strive for a more sustainable and inclusive future by leveraging digital technology.
**Question**: What brought you to ASU, and what do you like about the university?
**Answer**: Before joining ASU, I worked as an assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where I had the opportunity to collaborate with exciting startup firms. I chose to join ASU because of the tremendous opportunity it offers to researchers studying digital innovation, both within the university and in the surrounding Valley. The Valley is experiencing an influx of major companies like TSMC, Intel, and LG, attracting smaller suppliers and paving the way for innovative startups to emerge. Additionally, Arizona faces unique environmental challenges related to water consumption, creating a need for a whole ecosystem of innovative solutions.
This combination of factors makes the environment incredibly dynamic and promising. Maricopa County will be the birthplace of impactful innovations and the home to many new startups. The collaborative spirit, ample resources, and shared commitment to addressing environmental challenges make this an inspiring space for researchers and entrepreneurs alike. ASU breathes innovation, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
**Question**: What would you like to accomplish at your college/school/department?
**Answer**: My goal is to conduct impactful research that supports ASU’s position as a global leader in innovation. This means immersing myself in and working with the local startup community, learning from their successes and gathering insights that can benefit both academia and industry. I also want to **mentor and inspire** students who are passionate about entrepreneurship and help them develop the necessary skills to succeed in the fast-paced digital landscape.
By bridging the gap between academia and industry, I hope to contribute to the **growth and success** of the local ecosystem and, ultimately, drive positive change in society through the power of digital technology.
Julian Lehmann’s story is **captivating**. His journey from a tech consultant to an esteemed assistant professor at ASU showcases the endless possibilities that arise from following one’s passion. His research on **leveraging digital technology** is at the forefront of innovation, and his dedication to mentoring students and collaborating with the startup community is commendable. ASU has truly gained a valuable asset in Lehmann, and his presence will undoubtedly contribute to the university’s mission of fostering innovation.
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**Editor Notes: Fostering Innovation and Collaboration for a Better Future**
Julian Lehmann’s interview highlights the transformative power of **digital technology** and how it is reshaping the rules of business and society. His research on leveraging digital technology to create strategic value opens up a world of possibilities for both established firms and disruptive startups.
One of the most compelling aspects of Lehmann’s story is his commitment to mentoring students and working with the local startup community. By bridging the gap between academia and industry, he is creating a fertile ground for innovation and driving positive change in society.
ASU’s embrace of innovation and its collaborative environment provide the perfect platform for Lehmann to thrive and make a lasting impact. As he conducts impactful research and guides aspiring entrepreneurs, we can expect to witness remarkable advancements in the field of digital technology.
In this rapidly evolving digital landscape, it is crucial to have experts like Lehmann who understand the complexities and challenges that firms face. By harnessing the full potential of digital technology, we can create a more sustainable and inclusive future.
Overall, Lehmann’s story serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative force of innovation and the importance of collaboration for a better future.
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