MIR: Beiersdorf is one of the leading companies in the area of skin care. At first glance, the company seems to be more concerned with beauty and a sense of well-being than technology or digitalization. Overall, how much does the topic of digital transformation have to do with you?
Martin Wulle: The digital transformation is part of everyday-life at Beiersdorf and a fundamental element of our corporate strategy. Naturally, marketing and sales are affected most of all but so too are areas like the entire supply chain and human resources. We have developed a road map for digitalization within the context of our “Blue Agenda” corporate strategy and set clear targets through 2020.
MIR: Tradition-rich companies of a certain size are not really regarded as the most receptive to changes. With its 130-year history and more than 17,000 employees worldwide, how does Beiersdorf deal with the digital age?
Martin Wulle: We engage here at several levels in order to involve as many employees as possible. First of all, we want to increase the digital IQ of our employees through very specific educational programs, such as e-learning and our own digital campus. At the same time, we bring external expertise into the company through digital specialists. We have already been successful with employees collaborating in an agile environment in what we call our digital factory.
MIR: Could you describe your digital factory in a bit more detail?
Martin Wulle: The digital factory has its own location, physically separated from Beiersdorf. We have a wide range of professionals clustered there for developing digital projects, such as user experience (UX) designers, developers, agencies and marketers. The space looks entirely different from the traditional company, and its mode of operation is completely new. For example, there are no longer any fixed workstations. You see the most important project key figures on enormous live dashboards in real time as well as our paid, owned and earned activities, such as our website analytics and our social media activities, made visible through real-time monitoring. There is a relatively good mix of openness, creativity and traditional brand product thinking.
MIR: Are they all your own people or independent contractors?
Martin Wulle: Both. There are Beiersdorf employees assigned to work there. But some are there, for example, only two days per week for special projects. On the other hand, there are also many external parties, such as digital agencies, with which we cooperate openly and flexibly in an agile environment. In any case, the teams are all very interdisciplinary.