Accelerated Digitalization Is Creating New Opportunities

May 18, 2020 Digital & Product Solutions

DEKRA is fulfilling its mission as stated in its articles of association – even under difficult conditions due to the coronavirus crisis. “In the three areas of life – on the road, at work, and at home – we are working to ensure the safety of people around the world, even under these extremely difficult conditions,” explained DEKRA CEO Stefan Kölbl. “Out in the field, we have minimized direct contact between our experts and customers,” said Kölbl. “In addition, an increasing number of services – including audits, expert appraisals, training and certifications – are being performed either entirely or partially in digital format.” The DEKRA CEO also made clear that the coronavirus pandemic would most likely derail the company’s 16-year growth trajectory in 2020. Despite an already challenging economic environment in 2019, the expert organization achieved revenue growth of 2.0 percent to EUR 3.4 billion with a workforce that reached almost 44,000 by the end of the year.

The coronavirus pandemic effort has prompted DEKRA to combine a number of its services on its homepage at in re-sponse to the crisis. These services range from testing of protective coronavirus masks to certification of ventilators and cyber security anti-phishing tips all the way through to free online instructions on the safe transportation of coronavirus tests.

Systemically relevant vehicle inspections ensured

Systemically relevant periodic vehicle inspections are continuing despite COVID- 19 but with special safety precautions in place. “Our more than 500 testing loca-tions are open throughout Germany – and we are continuing to carry out testing in vehicle workshops as well,” explained DEKRA’s CEO. “We are, however, fol-lowing strict guidelines to protect both our customers and our employees.”
The industrial sector is currently demonstrating how to make the best of a bad situation. While plants are closed, it is devoting the time to improving plant safety. “We are currently experiencing a high demand for services involving the in-spection and testing of equipment and materials – such as in the automotive sector, for example,” said Stefan Kölbl, speaking of the positive business trend in the Industrial Inspection service division. “The shutdown is being used as a time to ensure compliance with regulatory safety standards.”

Improving the supply of respirators and protective masks

DEKRA is making a particular contribution to safety during the coronavirus pan-demic in its Product Testing division. Since mid-March 2020, DEKRA has been helping to stem the shortage of protective masks in Germany and elsewhere. Using testing principles that have been specially adapted for COVID-19, DEKRA has ramped up its testing capacity fifty-fold. DEKRA laboratories in the Nether-lands and Spain are testing and assessing mechanical ventilator systems ac-cording to the accelerated processes exceptionally defined by the European Commission and local governmental authorities. The accelerated process is de-signed to allow medical devices, which comply with the minimum basic requirements, to be approved for public use by the market supervisory authorities.

Coronavirus accelerating digitalization

The digital transformation of business processes has gained momentum during the coronavirus crisis, with continuous growth in digital services. For example, DEKRA is now relying on software solutions to not only carry out more and more training online, but also to conduct audits, damage assessments and certifica-tions. The constant aim is to simplify and speed up processes for customers. “The importance of avoiding personal contact as much as possible in the current climate will accelerate the acceptance of digital solutions in the marketplace,” stated the DEKRA CEO with certainty. That explains why remote appraisals are increasingly being performed in many countries also using i2i technology. This is where the customer sends photos or videos for assessment electronically and the expert records the facts and – depending on the extent of the damage – as-sesses the case either live or in a very short timeframe.
Stefan Kölbl also warned that it was important amidst the coronavirus crisis not to lose sight of the most urgent issues in relation to data security that are brought about by the digitalization of traffic, vehicles and other technical devices. After all, for connected and automated driving and for many other technical products besides, data plays a key role – including when it comes to safety. With this in mind, DEKRA launched the Trust Center initiative back in 2019. The objective is to establish a data trustee model for collecting and evaluating data safely. “In the interests of consumer protection, we need a culture of data sharing when it comes to traffic safety issues,” said the DEKRA CEO.

A reliable outlook for 2020 is impossible

In Stefan Kölbl’s opinion, it is not possible to issue a forecast for 2020 as a whole. “It is impossible to chart the future course of the coronavirus pandemic, which is having an impact globally. Therefore, it is not possible to calculate when economic and social life will return to normal.” That is why DEKRA is taking an extensive range of actions, including postponing some of its investments.
DEKRA’s CEO is expecting the coronavirus pandemic to halt the company’s long-sustained growth trajectory: “We have to assume that there will be a decline in revenue and other key figures in 2020. The extent of this depends on how long the shutdown continues. DEKRA stands for safety and is systemically relevant even during the current crisis. We will make every effort on our side to continue digitalizing our services and maintain the level of systemically relevant and public service orders.”