Interview: Sustainable Digitalization. Dormant Potentials

Part 3 of the interview with CEO Peter Schneck: how CENIT supports the digital change of its customers - and how the company is preparing itself.

Published 01/09/2023 | updated 05/23/2024

In an interview with Handelsblatt in 2022, the former CEO of Zeiss, Michael Kaschke, said that nothing can go forward without digitalization. According to Ernst & Young, 72 % of large-scale enterprises now expect their business to undergo a major transformation in the coming years – and they are again ramping up their digitalization efforts. On the other hand, a 2022 study by IDC indicates that IIoT introduction levels in German industry still remain low.

Interview: Sustainable Digitalization. Dormant Potentials

Mr. Schneck, how do you assess the current digitalization efforts of your clients?

Compared to other countries around the globe, the markets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland indeed have some catching up to do. Here we talk about digitalization, but aren’t always clear on the definition. What goal does a business hope to achieve with digitalization, and related to what topic? Where does it expect digitalization to yield what sort of tangible added value?

We believe that this added value is generated by intelligently connecting value-relevant data and processes to gain speed, independence and flexibility. To let our client businesses act and react more quickly and more efficiently, as expedient in view of their own requirements, resource availability and current political situation. Businesses that don’t realize this in time will probably fall behind at some point.

How does CENIT promote digital change within businesses?

First of all, by actively promoting the holistic nature of digitalization in our solutions portfolio. That means that we will have to modify the way we address markets and industries. The important thing is that in their consulting with our customers, our colleagues speak the industry language and know how to adapt our solutions to meet client requirements in each specific segment.

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Against this backdrop, CENIT acquired a majority interest in ISR Information Products in April of 2022. The company is now part of CENIT Group, with currently about 1,000 employees worldwide. You plan to conduct one 1 to 2 M&A activities each year. What does this mean for the future development of CENIT?

First off, that we will develop a clear onboarding process – for ISR and for other companies which we will acquire in the future, and we have initiated our “CENIT 99” program for this purpose. We consciously use the term “onboarding” because we don’t plan to incorporate all the companies we address in our M&A activities: Some of them, e.g. those that join us on the strength of their sector expertise, will continue to act as independent entities. But if an acquisition gives us technology expertise that we can leverage across CENIT Group, we may well decide to fully integrate that company.

Despite our active M&A strategy, we want to stay true to our orientation – i.e. our sustainability-based digitalization approach, but also our corporate culture, our close familiarity. To avoid diluting our culture, we will therefore acquire no more than two companies per year.

In accordance with our M&A strategy, we will rely on clear search profiles to determine which companies suit our sustainable digitalization strategy. In other words, we don’t just think in technology terms – we take a holistic view. We plan to leverage this view to strengthen our market position and identify ways to connect different industry segments. This will certainly give us a role as a connective entity, something that doesn’t yet exist in this way. There’s huge potential in it for CENIT.

However, the greatest challenge for us is finding the right employees, because we need people who are able to exploit that potential. We will identify outstanding talents within our company and groom them for leadership tasks in acquired companies, acting as unifiers. This gives our staff excellent opportunities for advancement, the chance to prove themselves and gain experience in new lines of business and at new locations around the world.

Let’s look a bit further ahead. Where do you see CENIT in five years?

Let’s first look three years ahead – to the goal of our “CENIT 2025” strategy program, in which we defined a sales target of € 300 million and EBIT of 8 to 10 %. Our USP – having five business units working in mutually supportive collaboration – will be instrumental in achieving these targets.

Looking at a time span of five years, i.e. until the end of 2027, I naturally hope that by then we will be approaching the € 500 million mark and EBIT significantly above 10%. That, of course, would be the natural consequence of sustainable digitalization.

Contact person

Swetlana Isaak

Swetlana Isaak

Communications Manager

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