Interview with Prof. Dr. Peter Roßbach on innovation, Artificial Intelligence & more!

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Prof. Dr. Peter Roßbach is a Professor of General Business Administration and Business Informatics at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. As someone that has been at the forefront of research at the intersection of technological developments and the finance & banking world for over thirty years we are pleased to have him on the jury for the Artificially Enhanced Banking Crowdstorm.

We asked him a few questions so that we, the jovoto community, can get to know him a bit better and learn a thing or two while we’re at it!


Prof. Dr. Peter Roßbach (photo from top magazin frankfurt)

To start us off, can you talk a bit about your career path and achievements to date, about how you got to where you are today?

In the first part of the 1980s, I studied Economics, with an emphasis on statistics and econometrics. It was the time of the rise of the personal computers and so I combined both areas and was able to gain my first experiences in the practical usage of computers. Towards the end of my studies, I started working as a scientific assistant in the area of Banking and Finance. My main research areas were “Applied IT in Banking and Investments”. After finishing my doctoral thesis, I started to work at an investment company in the “Portfolio Research” department. But after a short time, I realized that my main interest lies in academia. So I returned to university, working on a project with the topic “Artificial Intelligence in the Field of Financial Services” with a special emphasis on customer consulting.

Having gained my postdoctoral qualification in October 1999, I started to work as a Professor of Business Informatics at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, which, at that time, was a small Business School named “Hochschule für Bankwirtschaft”. I was the 9th Professor on the roster and introduced Business Informatics to the school. Today, I am one of more than 50 professors and the academic director of two bachelor programs: “Business Informatics” and “Digital Innovation and Fintech”. Currently, my research is focused in the following areas: Blockchain Technologies, Machine Learning/Predictive Analytics, and IT Security.

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

You have a great amount of experience as a Professor – when it comes to learning and innovating are there any key pieces of guidance you find yourself giving students time and time again?

Some of the key pieces are: (1) Think different! If you just get in line and follow the masses, you will never be one of the first. (2) Be open to new things! The speed of change is increasing. (3) Learn to enjoy learning! The things you learn today may be obsolete tomorrow, but you will always need to go on learning. You will be learning for the rest of your life. (4) Don’t give up trying to realize your ideas and dreams! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are perfect sources for learning.

80s Computers

Museum exhibit about computers in the 80’s (at IBM’s house of data processing history!)

Part of your academic career involved a stint researching AI in the 80/90’s – how have the conversations around AI moved on since then?

In the 80’s and 90’s we tried to directly program our understanding of intelligence into the AI systems, like rule-based systems (such as Expert Systems) or experience-based systems (such as Case-based Reasoning Systems). We also used the first generation of Artificial Neural Networks to detect patterns and coherences in data. Limitations were hardware, software, methods, and the available data.

Today, we have greater calculation power, the ability to work with huge amounts of (unstructured) data, and new methods (for example provided by Deep Learning) to let the machine learn the needed knowledge by itself. An example is AlphaGo, which was initially trained by attempting to match the moves from recorded historical games. After that, it was trained further by being set to play large numbers of games against other instances of itself. No one coded the knowledge directly.

AlphaGo Example Game

AlphaGo Example Game (screenshot from wikipedia)

Are any of your students or fellow faculty members working on projects that utilise AI in an interesting way?

At presence, I supervise a project consisting of 23 students with duration of one year. The subject is the development of a Blockchain-based system integrating smart contracts. In addition, several of our PhD students’ projects including Machine Learning parts. I also offer several courses in the area of Machine Learning/Data Science with many practical use cases.

What role, if any, do you think AI could / should play in the future of education and studying?

On the one hand, AI must be covered as a subject on all related courses and modules. By now, students of business administration should have profound knowledge in the fields of information technology and data science to be able to develop digital products and services.

On the other hand, AI can also help support teaching and learning. For example, at the Frankfurt School, we are thinking about virtual classrooms utilizing Virtual Reality technologies. There are opportunities of applying AI in different areas, like communication, assessing the knowledge levels of the students and reacting with the appropriate learning tools, and so on.

What’s your favourite AI application that you use regularly?

Google Translate.

google translate

When it’s time for the jury meeting, what will you be looking out for in the submissions to the Crowdstorm?

There must be a clear formulated problem the creative wants to solve. The developed concept should be clearly formulated and address the problem. The choice of the methods should be well-founded and their application precisely described. Finally, the expected benefit of the solution should be highlighted.

And a curveball question to finish off: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Being together with friends and enjoying life!


The second Crowdstorm with Deutsche Bank on jovoto is currently live! – Artificially Enhanced Banking is open for ideas until the 28th June; finance disruptors and creative minds are invited to submit concepts on the potential role of AI in the banking & finance sector. There are multiple awards on offer, from a €25,000 prize pool – so if you have an idea, head over the the project page and find out more…

Are you new to jovoto? – We enable companies and NGOs to brainstorm at scale to solve design and innovation challenges online. We call this crowdstorming. Our crowd comprises of 80 000 creatives all over the world. Want to join this mass-collaborative, social brainstorming on jovoto? – sign up here.

Helen Gimber

Helen is into creativity, collaboration & collectivity! She joined jovoto in 2015 as a guide for Textile Design projects and has been a regular fixture of the community marketing and management team since.


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