Hanno Elbraechter, Head Business Unit Technology, Member of Executive Committee and Suhas Kulkarni, General Manager, Business Development in exclusive talk with PRESSIdeas.
Today, operating across four Business Units – Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Performance Materials and Technology – in line with their underlying goal ‘to drive growth’, DKSH’s vision is to be the trusted partner for companies looking to grow their business in Asia and beyond.
PRESSIdeas: Describe DKSH’s business journey till date.
Hanno Elbraechter (HE): Long before many of today’s companies were created, our founding fathers, encouraged by Asia’s vast, untapped opportunities, ventured to Asia to lay the foundation of what is now DKSH. Our journey began in 1865 when three Swiss pioneers – Caspar Brennwald, Wilhelm Heinrich Diethelm and Eduard Anton Keller – set sail to discover Asia. They set up companies in Yokohama, Manila and Singapore trading silk and consumer goods products. They not only built thriving businesses themselves, they also helped other companies grow and succeed. This is still the core of our business more than 150 years later: we provide a wide range of integrated Market Expansion Services to grow our partners’ businesses. Today, we operate across four Business Units – Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Performance Materials and Technology. The underlying goal of any business is to drive growth. In line with this, DKSH’s vision is to be the trusted partner for companies looking to grow their business in Asia and beyond.
PRESSIdeas: Speaking of DKSH’s Asia focus, what is the present range of services for the Asian customers of DKSH?
Hanno Elbraechter: We provide a comprehensive package of integrated and tailored services across the entire life cycle of the products. As a Market Expansion Services provider, we go beyond offering individual services – in fact, we integrate many different services to meet our business partners’ needs. What sets us apart from conventional distributors is our range of value-added services that we provide for our clients and customers, which are made up of much more than mere distribution. Our value proposition for our customers is: you can count on us to provide you with the right solutions for the success of your business. Take Business Unit Technology as an example: the services we provide to our customers in that division include product sourcing, distribution and logistics, training, installation and commissioning, integrated solution design, maintenance and repairs, spare parts and consumables as well as other value-added services.
PRESSIdeas: DKSH excels with its Swiss heritage and long business tradition since 1865. What values and traditions from those days do you see as of strength for present day DKSH?
Hanno Elbraechter: DKSH’s identity is based on its core corporate values – Integrity, Empowerment, Collaboration, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. These values are not only an integral part of our history and heritage, but differentiate us from our competitors and build the foundation of our unique selling points today.
PRESSIdeas: What are the key areas of services so far as SAP vis-à-vis DKSH is concerned? Can you elaborate so an average customer can understand how he and his business can benefit from these?
Hanno Elbraechter: With more than 8,000 SAP users within DKSH and 22 million transactions annually (almost 1.8 million transactions each month), DKSH operates one of the largest single SAP instances in Asia. Overall, we leverage on SAP services to boost our organization’s efficiency and productivity by digitizing and automating processes across the entire value chain. “Digital-first” is our priority to meet the fast-growing demand for online businesses and eCommerce. We have an integrated platform to leverage and expedite time to market for all digital and offline customer touch points to a single, robust platform, which further helps us develop the B2B portal, eCommerce as well as expand our B2C presence via e-fulfillment operations in e-marketplaces. From the perspective of Business Unit Technology, order to cash, procure-to-pay, data analytics as well as operation reporting are heavily dependent on SAP services. With the roll-out of our new, intelligent digital core – SAP S/4HANA, we are expected to fully leverage on in-memory database, thus providing us with the benefits below:
In summary, this development and integration platform will help us get up to speed in a customer-centric, ever-changing market – especially when it comes to optimizing daily business transactions and accelerating strategic decision making.
PRESSIdeas: How is DKSH IT different from DKSH? How does IT help in areas like personnel, behavioral and mechanical etc.?
Hanno Elbraechter: DKSH IT is one of the key functions at DKSH. We are running a central organization and have built all our business processes on a single instance SAP environment. We never stop growing our talent professionally and constantly explore options to improve ourselves with wide arrays of next-generation technologies to provide better services, streamline processes, leverage employee talent and retain our competitive advantage by using information technology. For instance, we are digitizing employee records, managing performance online as well as promoting an e-learning culture.
Consolidation is key. One of our core capabilities is the Product Information Management (PIM). It allows us to manage all our product content (such as pictures, specifications, etc.) from a single information repository. This enables us to organize multiple catalogues in numerous languages and to create consistent and high-quality user-centric content across multiple channels.
PRESSIdeas: How does DKSH help customers with setups that don’t employ the latest technology or aren’t up to the mark? Does it involve a lot of investment?
Hanno Elbraechter: DKSH provides integrated solutions to ensure our customers’ business success. Based on the customers’ current situation, we can provide tailored solutions for them and offer services, such as training, installation and calibration, all the way to after-sales services. Our engineers possess the technical know-how and will retain customers, shorten their learning curve, while ensuring the successful integration of the new technologies.
PRESSIdeas: What do you see as the key challenges in the Indian market? How is it different from challenges elsewhere?
Suhas Kulkarni: We see India more as an opportunity to seize rather than a challenge. The Indian flexible packaging market has matured over the years and now needs sustainable solutions, given the fact that there is a high focus on the single-use plastic being banned. This is an area where DKSH Business Line Printing Packaging & Converting will focus on and align services and support around it.
PRESSIdeas: What solutions do you suggest for a common printer in present tough times?
Suhas Kulkarni: The Printing & Packaging industry is a service-based manufacturing industry. Focusing on a sustainable business model is more important, and this can be done with equal exposure to several packaging segments. Having a wider scope of offering will minimize the risk associated with any single industry segment. Reaching a fine balance between high volumes and high-margin product delivery is important.
PRESSIdeas: What are key points of your association with SOMA? How has been your experience while meeting targets so far?
Suhas Kulkarni: SOMA Engineering Company has a very strong foundation in engineering, and the products it manufactures are robust and deliver high features, some of which are not even seen in similar product categories. The association with SOMA is to ensure we increase their market presence and help deliver the right product to the right segment. Even in the current flexographic printing segment, we see huge potential to serve the real needs of the industry, ensuring high productivity. After working with them for over a year, we are happy to see positive results and traction in the market.
PRESSIdeas: What are other areas of business and services you offer in the Indian market and Asian market?
Suhas Kulkarni: DKSH as a company offers a very broad range of products, with focus on four Business Units, namely Healthcare, Consumer Goods, Performance Materials and Technology. Having said that, the Business Line called Printing Packaging & Converting under the Business Unit Technology is increasing its portfolio to offer integrated solutions to meet sustainable printing and packaging needs in the flexible packaging segment.
PRESSIdeas: What are the latest technologies you offer for digital transformation?
Suhas Kulkarni: The starting point for any digital transformation must be customers’ needs. Our roadmap of digital transformation is based on in-depth knowledge of our customers and aims to provide a better customer journey, from awareness to engagement, from purchasing to repurchasing. In the next two years, our target is to implement a product information management system, a quote tool as well as a global eCommerce and service platform, all of which will be integrated to our SFDC CRM platform. Our new digital ecosystem will greatly enhance our customer satisfaction and at the same time, increase our sales and service productivity.
PRESSIdeas: What are DKSH’s machine learning-driven approaches? What other solutions are being offered for increasing internal efficiencies?
Hanno Elbraechter: Machine learning techniques are greatly used by our Data Science team to transform raw data to meaningful information with the following objectives:
The digital transformation that Business Unit Technology is driving now includes a product information management system, a quote tool, a global eCommerce and service platform as well as the continuous enhancement of our CRM platform, which will all help us increase our internal efficiencies and drive our productivity.
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