Interview

 

Ralf Wintergerst
Chairman of the Management Board, CEO

As Chairman of the Management Board, Ralf Wintergerst is responsible for the global activities of Giesecke+Devrient (G+D), which employs more than 11,000 people and has sales of over EUR 2 billion. In the following interview, he discusses the impact of digitalization, the importance of major contracts for the business, and what agility and adaptability mean to G+D.

»Agility and adaptability are essential for us as a company. They also enable us to boost our resilience in dynamic markets.«

Mr. Wintergerst, a lot of changes have taken place at G+D over recent months. You have presented a new corporate structure, a fresh brand concept, and a modified strategy. Why the urgency?
The world around us is moving fast. It’s therefore completely natural that we also need to take action and make changes, because we want to stay in the driver’s seat. Agility and adaptability are thus essential, and are something we practice across the entire Group. Ultimately, they also enable us to boost our resilience in dynamic markets.

Were you successful in that respect in fiscal 2017?
Looking at our figures, it’s apparent that we are very successful in meeting the needs of our markets and customers. Following a record year in 2016, we were able to further increase both sales and earnings in 2017. All four subgroups made a positive contribution to results. At the Group level, we are seeing particularly robust growth in our solutions business – that is, in the combined application of products, services, and software solutions. We have grown this sector by more than 10 percent within a year. Overall, this puts us in an excellent position to achieve what we set out to do.

And what is that?
Our aim is to make critical applications more secure in modern societies. We want to safeguard payments, people’s identities, IT, and data, as well as connectivity – both of mobile applications and within the Internet of Things. In the age of digitalization, these issues are becoming more pressing every day. Last year, we significantly strengthened our portfolio in precisely these segments, in part by way of moderate, targeted acquisitions. The ongoing development of our business is now focused on three priority areas: intelli-
gent automation, digital transformation, and cyber security. That is where we see the best growth opportunities for G+D across all business segments.

Demand for secure solutions for the digital world is rising steadily. What progress is G+D making in terms of developing the relevant applications?  
At G+D, we’ve been committed to safeguarding digital transformation for some time now. Across the Group, our applications and solutions business for IT and data security grew by more than 40 percent in the past year. We continue to see rising demand in the government sector and, increasingly, from industry too. Cyber security is becoming ever more important, especially around payment technologies, connectivity – the automotive sector being a case in point – and, of course, the protection of digital identities. 

G+D helps governments, public authorities, banks, automakers, and industrial enterprises to secure their digitalization strategies. What action is G+D itself taking with regard to digital transformation?  

We’re investing significant sums in enhancing our IT infrastructure. The three major focus areas here are the digital interface with our customers, end-to-end processes, and establishing new digital business models. In the latter case, we’re advancing a number of initiatives in-house and in some areas together with partners. We’ve established G+D advance52, for instance – our new digital unit – and are tackling important technological issues in think tanks involving participants from across the organization. We have already made real progress on blockchain applications, biometrics, and digital currencies, for example. We aim to test innovations fast using agile methods and also make decisions quickly about next steps and investments.

G+D has signed a contract worth EUR 260 million with the Central Bank of Egypt. How important are major contracts like this for G+D?
Major contracts have always been a key part of G+D’s business. Our customers know that we can offer comprehensive expertise in integration and solutions, across all our strategic business areas. Our latest major con-
tract in Egypt is a prime example. It involves implementing an integrated solution for the production, storage, and circulation of cash using advanced IT and logistics systems. To us, this means engaging with the customer’s requirements right along the process chain and ensuring every need is met.

To round off, let’s take a look at future developments. What’s next for G+D in 20
18?

We’re cautiously optimistic about 2018. Cautious due to the rapid pace of change in industry and the wider economy and also in view of elevated political uncertainty around the world. Our optimism is based on the many great ideas we can leverage. Across all our business segments, we have the determination and drive to continue making progress. What’s more, we have a portfolio that covers the major issues of our time: payment, identities, connectivity, and IT and data security in both the physical and the digital world. The aim now is not only to improve our performance in terms of financial indica-
tors by the end of 2018, but also – even more importantly – to continue enhancing the strength and robustness of our solutions and our service portfolio. I’m excited about tackling these tasks together with our teams around the globe.

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