Interview: Sustainable Digitalization. The Right Step Forward
Interview with CEO Peter Schneck on strategy, sustainability, digitalization and their impact on competitiveness
Mr. Schneck, you have officially been CEO of CENIT since January, 2022. Ever since you took on the position, you have been orienting your growth strategy more strongly on sustainability. What dimensions are you focusing on?
We plan to achieve a mindset shift – first internally, and later with our external target groups – in which we fully penetrate the issues of sustainability and sustainable digitalization, rather than just reducing them to environmental aspects.
Sustainability is often associated with aspects like power and water consumption, waste reduction, etc. But a business approach to sustainable digitalization must also include the ambition to add quality by improving processes, achieve greater efficiency in production and abbreviate or entirely avoid prototyping cycles. Imagine being able to simulate product generation so effectively that you can seamlessly hand it over to manufacturing via a 3D product “printout”.
Our thinking revolves around optimal generation, utilization and integration of data and information from the entire product lifecycle, end to end.
This intelligently connected information helps us – and then our clients – to gain a better understanding of their products and thereby maximize the added value they can derive from them. That’s sustainability – a sustainable use of resources and information.
But for me, the concept of sustainability also means creating sustainable jobs for your employees. I look at it from the perspective of the “war for talent”: In the years to come, how do we develop our human resources in line with market needs, ensure that they remain loyal to us and stay at the cutting edge in all our disciplines? And how do we deploy them optimally?
In addition, sustainability extends to diversity considerations and social responsibility.
And that’s where we come full circle: We mean to change the mindset of our employees and customers so that together we can develop sustainable products that give us a competitive edge and serve the value chain in all respects. It’s the only way to ensure that sustainable digitalization becomes our own “solution product”, and it’s why we have to focus on all these dimensions, now and in future.
We can see how CENIT’s strategy has been reoriented and refined under your auspices when we look at the newly formulated vision, mission and corporate purpose. The latter states that CENIT shapes sustainable digitalization. Could you explain that in more detail?
In itself, the topic of “sustainable digitalization” is not a new one for CENIT. We have already addressed sustainability issues in a great many projects over the years – even if we haven’t called it by that name until now.
Let’s take our 3DS Solutions unit: Based on the capabilities of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and our own solutions, we optimize the entire engineering and manufacturing process of a product, shortening cycles and improving resource use.
Now, we are focusing even more heavily on the data and the analyses that we can make available to our customers, not just via the simulations and manufacturing steps but far beyond. This data still contains dormant potential with respect to product development, product use and the entire circular economy related to the product. And, in this context, also the use of human and material resources.
To give you a classic example: Since 2021, we have been integrating the platform of Dassault Systèmes (3DEXPERIENCE) and SAP, whether on-premises, hybrid or in the Cloud. That means we are addressing two key dimensions for manufacturing enterprises: The product innovation process on one hand and the operational business on the other.
Our goal is to optimize and digitally interconnect these processes along the entire product creation cycle, through to maintenance and feedback – to fuse them, if you like. If a business fails to do so it will, over time, create data silos, redundancies and information discontinuities – and, in the end, slow down the entire product generation process.
To offer our clients the best possible conditions for sustainable digitalization, we want all of our solutions and products to reflect this digital sustainability and consistency. That means we will align the solutions of our five business units to ensure that they mutually support each other in the best possible way and permit truly continuous digital flow. In this way, we want to offer our clients solutions that help them simulate, analyze, document and control – at each and every stage of the value cycle.
It’s our direct and indirect contribution to promoting sustainability considerations among our clients: If a business has optimal information on its processes, it becomes more flexible and can react more proactively if something goes wrong. It can also think in a more future-oriented way – and it gains a better footing for addressing aspects like efficiency and resource use.
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