Digital Innovation

A Team Player for Digital Innovations

Digital Innovation

A Team Player for Digital Innovations

Success requires a team effort, but also a mix of many skills. And team players are essential for ongoing success. The captain of a sports team is usually a team player through and through. That's certainly true of basketball, where he works closely with the coach and embodies the team's values and rules. He doesn't necessarily score the most goals, but he does keep the team together and is close with all the players, thus ensuring the team maintains the right mindset.

Matthias was the captain and would have been thrilled to have become a professional athlete: "But at some point I had to decide between basketball and physics." Ultimately, his passion for science won out. Matthias smiles: "That's what led me to spend quite a chunk of time at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. But the sport stayed with me, and basketball definitely turned me into a team player. The sport has many overlaps with leadership duties and teams at a company."

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.

Michael Jordan

Planning for the digital future

Matthias' time as captain and team player at ZEISS began in mid-2014 in Oberkochen, when he became Head of Corporate Strategic Development. Together with his team and the ZEISS Executive Board, he defines the digital strategy for ZEISS, thus laying the foundation for the milestones of the company's digital transformation. Since November 2016, he has been the driving force for its implementation as Head of ZEISS Digital Partners – and is now based in Munich. And he has a specific idea of how to do it: "The future of business comprises up to 90 percent of the digital ecosystem, i.e. the interplay of products, data and services, of 

hardware and software, of hardware and software, of corporate success and customer satisfaction," he says. This is done through online customer interactions, big data applications and the further networking of measuring machines, microscopes and diagnostic medical devices via platforms. "We aim to ensure customer satisfaction across the board. This ranges from optical customers who look up information online when their eyeglass lenses are being delivered, to scientists who want to more efficiently deploy ZEISS microscopes and measuring machines as part of the innovative services."

We're a cool team. And we're on the right track.

We're a cool team. And we're on the right track.


ZEISS optics help people see once more, while researchers press on with new discoveries.

Matthias, Head of ZEISS Digital Partners

Agile tactics

Matthias' team now comprises just under 120 clever, dynamic and motivated people from a variety of different backgrounds. In October, this number will rise to 500, and the team will form the new unit ZEISS Digital Partners. His staff will include visionaries and designers, product and software developers, data whizzes, physicists, mathematicians and economists, opticians and doctors, and many more. Together they develop, perfect and implement digital solutions for ZEISS customers.
All the products are developed and unveiled in collaboration with the different business areas. The different areas are in charge of their business, have usually known the customers for many years, and have the requisite expert knowledge.

They work with Matthias‘ team to develop and implement the best solutions for customers. Just like in sports, it's not the best individual player who wins, but in fact the best team.
Matthias' team is a standalone – though not independent – ZEISS startup. ZEISS Digital Partners thus combines the best of two worlds: the spirit, drive and agility of a startup with long-term orientation, financial stability, strategic farsightedness, the ZEISS brand and the know-how of a top global company.

From lecture halls to politics and consultations

Before Matthias threw his strategic farsightedness into the ring at ZEISS, he proved his mettle in the world of politics after graduating with a degree in physics and economics. He developed concepts for technologies, first at the Foreign Office and then for the German Ministry for the Environment. "But at some point it all got too theoretical for me, too political, and it took too long to get to the implementation. I wanted to do more than just draw up declarations of intent and ordinances," says Matthias. That's when a new opportunity opened up for him at McKinsey. He became an Associate Principal and found himself at the heart of the action once again. For almost seven years, Matthias consulted with companies from the high-tech and energy industries throughout Europe, helping them adapt to the energy revolution and the trend toward greater sustainability. Until it was time for him to take the next step – at ZEISS.


ZEISS technology forms the basis for both high-end chips and precise metrology. We make the world a little better – and a little more colorful.

Matthias, Head of ZEISS Digital Partners

A great success

Matthias was raring to go after the initial interview. Everything spoke to him: the management, his fellow players and the strategy. "After working as a consultant, I was particularly impressed by the hands-on implementation of research outcomes in tangible product benefits. ZEISS optics help people see once more, while researchers press on with new discoveries. ZEISS technology forms the basis for both high-end chips and precise metrology. We make the world a little better – and a little more colorful."

Run and gun

Matthias is just as excited about the challenges that lie ahead. And he's focused on his strategy: "The digital transformation isn't something we'll achieve with keynotes. It's actually based on concrete products and proactive team players. And that's exactly where ZEISS is leading the pack. We're a cool team. And we're on the right track. Unlike many listed companies, we can plan and take action more than one quarter in advance."
A home game, if you will. And new players are always welcome.

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