“Disruption or demise?” – That was the radical question which Florian Zangerl, moderator of the event and publisher of Industriemagazin, asked the top managers of internationally successful Austrian businesses present at the Fabasoft TechSalon on September 27, 2018.
Werner H. Bittner, managing director of Umdasch Group Ventures GmbH, Peter Gönitzer, managing director of Wien Energie GmbH, Dr. Dieter Siegel, chairman of Rosenbauer International AG, and Andreas Dangl, managing director of Fabasoft Austria GmbH, gave insights into the innovation strategies of their organisations and revealed how they were responding to the challenges of a business environment which is changing ever more rapidly
Subsidiaries as innovation hubs
Since January 2017, Umdasch Group Ventures GmbH - the third subsidiary of Umdasch Group AG - has been assessing which technologies and megatrends will potentially be disruptive in construction and retail consumer buying processes in the near future. These processes constitute the core business of Umdasch Group AG, which is formwork (Doka) and shop fitting (Umdasch The Store Makers). Umdasch Group Ventures aims at creating additional business areas along these processes. According to Werner H. Bittner, this strategic approach is already proving to be successful.
At the globally leading manufacturer of systems for fire-fighting and disaster protection, Rosenbauer International AG, a dedicated subsidiary is developing the fire-fighting vehicle of the future: A non-polluting hybrid vehicle which Rosenbauer will launch on its own. In an industry as “analogous” as fire-fighting, this evolution alone is already very disruptive. Dr. Siegel also named the reasons for establishing a specific development company: The possibility of breaking new ground, being free from constant competition with the core business, and no longer having to provide justification if matters are indeed dealt with differently than before. The subsidiary can therefore concentrate its entire energy on exploring new solutions.
Start-ups as support
Wien Energie is using both its internal potential and the creativity and agility of start-ups on its way to a business model which is even more tailored to the needs of its customers. The organisation has for example established new innovation processes where innovation scouts are focussing on new technologies and opportunities in all internal areas. On the other hand, external companies and start-ups are invited to participate in competitions which are followed by bi-annual boot camps where new ideas are developed together. The most promising projects are then implemented. Peter Gönitzer highlighted the new “Smart Drone Inspection” as the most successful example, where drones are used to inspect wind turbines. While these inspections used to take an entire day and required three industrial climbers, they are now completed within one hour thanks to automatic image and defect recognition. If a wind turbine exhibits any defects, the drone will recognise them through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automatically trigger the necessary processes for repair.
Digitisation and agile methods
Andreas Dangl underscored that even industries such as software development which are already digital need to react to change. With a view to progressive digitisation, Fabasoft for example switched its entire internal production to agile methods – scrum, zero known defects, etc. – already in the year 2009 in order to deliver new software products more rapidly.
Discussion and question and answer session
If you are interested in the answers to further exciting questions such as “How do you separate thinking about the future from your core business in terms of human resources?”, “Business models have always been replaced by new ones. Why does it seem that digitisation is putting so much focus on this topic?” or “What could be the Google/Uber/Airbnb of your industry?”, listen to the recording of the panel discussion provided on this page (in German).