Changed ownership structure and new strategy phase: The former Kapsch BusinessCom, now K-Businesscom (KBC), is launching a comprehensive platform strategy. transform! talked to the Board members Franz Semmernegg and Jochen Borenich about future-oriented use cases. […]
The Kapsch Group has repositioned itself. Kapsch BusinessCom was spun off with a new ownership structure, the newly created company operates under the name K-Businesscom (KBC). In mid-2021, Dr. Kari Kapsch took over the majority of KBC as part of the restructuring of the Kapsch Group, Invest Unternehmensbeteiligungs AG took a stake of around 22 percent and the two members of the Executive Board of K-Businesscom AG, Dr. Franz Semmernegg and Mag. Jochen Borenich, hold about ten percent of the shares.
What are the effects of these organizational changes? “The subgroups in the Kapsch Group have always been managed independently,” says Franz Semmernegg in an interview with transform! “The synergies between the subgroups were also manageable, as TrafficCom operates in a completely different segment than KBC. Nevertheless, there is a very amical relationship between the two sub-areas at management and employee level. In addition, TrafficCom is a major customer of KBC, which it will continue to be.“
Executive Board Member Jochen Borenich points out that the separation from the Group and the new branding would be a very good fit for the new strategy phase. “We started with the theme of Apollo: we wanted to go to the Moon and achieved this goal. We now know how to build a rocket. We know how to land on the moon and reach other celestial bodies. We come from the areas of communication and network, followed by managed services – all topics that we continue to take with us. We then moved towards digitization in order to better understand the processes and to build up industry understanding and application know-how. Therefore, we have made great progress in the areas of software development and digital solutions.“
Now the company is entering the phase of scaling: the age of platform services has begun. “It’s not just a one-off project. We want to scale it and make it a platform. This means that we work very hard in cooperation with other companies – keywords are “cross innovation” and “cross industry”. This creates completely new platforms.“
People – Planet – Profit
The motto of this phase is “We transform for the better”. “”We” stands for co-creation and not just for KBC alone,” says Jochen Borenich. “We are not just us with our digitization know-how, but also companies from various industries, for example SEDUS, Zumtobel and companies in the circular economy sector. “Transform” is meant in the sense of “change”. Digitalization is not only an enabler, but also a driver. “Better” stands for “sustainable change for the better”. When we talk about sustainability, we essentially see three elements of a change that must be taken into account: People – Planet – Profit. We have to take people with us, take care of the planet and, of course, have a sustainable business model. All three aspects are equally important. What good is a business model that is not profitable? What’s the use of an idea where I don’t take people with me? And what is the use of a business model today in which I do not meet environmental standards?“
The role that Franz Semmernegg and Jochen Borenich assign to KBC is that of “Digital Business Engineer”. Borenich: “This term encompasses several aspects. On the one hand, I am an engineer, which means that I must have technological and architectural competence in order to be able to implement the ideas myself. On the other hand, I have to be an entrepreneur to understand the business. “Digital” refers to the tools we bring with us. This combination of consulting expertise, technological know-how, entrepreneurship and digital tools is quite unique and, from our point of view, also necessary.”In other words: we design the house, build it and also operate it,” Franz Semmernegg puts it in a nutshell.
Cross innovation platforms in practice
The aforementioned cooperation with Zumtobel consists of combining lighting technology with sensor technology on a common platform. “The big advantage of this solution is that where there is light, there is also electricity. This makes it much easier to mount the motion sensors. It is, for example, about analyzing movement in space, which is very important for stationary trade, because, among other things, it becomes clear where the goods are best placed. Where are the customers primarily located? What does the flow look like – keyword heatmap?”, says Borenich. With this platform, which is currently in the first proof of concept, for example, cash queue management can be perfected: employees are automatically notified as soon as a long queue forms.
The smart armchair
The second example concerns the cooperation with SEDUS. The German furniture manufacturer became aware of the Austrian ICT specialist in the Competence Center for Smart Textiles, where the latter had taken over the technical part. Both companies have been looking for ways to develop the intelligent armchair in joint workshops. “The armchair has hardly changed over the past two centuries, there have been no major innovations, it has only been developed further. That has now changed. You can make him intelligent,” says Semmernegg. “A simple example: You can see online whether an armchair is occupied or not. One of the big frustrations about open space is that the trip to Jerusalem starts at nine o’clock in the morning to find a free place. This is further exacerbated by the corona crisis, because companies are planning to reduce the space. I can reserve an intelligent armchair in a timely manner. This also avoids stress if you got up too late or are stuck in a traffic jam. The facility manager also benefits from this solution. How are the meeting rooms occupied? Are they usually empty or overcrowded? A lot can be done with the data. I do not define myself by the price, but by the fact that the smart armchair provides information.“
Recently, Cisco has expressed interest in participating in the platform. “The existing sensors of the video conferencing systems provide information on temperature and air quality, for example. More and more partners are joining. In this way, the platform grows,“ says Borenich.
The third use case in terms of platform economy and co-creation is the circular economy. “We see that the topic of the circular economy is indeed called that, but is currently being considered from point to point. This means that companies in a value chain look at the value creation immediately before and behind it and try to start joint projects with these neighbors,“ Borenich describes the current situation. “On the other hand, we are convinced that it is actually a cycle in which all participants have to communicate with each other. We will provide the necessary basis for this in the near future. The aim here is to increase the recycling rate and reduce waste. It is said that 50 percent of the CO2 targets planned can be achieved through digitization. So we believe that digitalization is an essential driver. We will probably start with the topic of plastic, because the leverage and pressure of the end consumers are the greatest. In terms of weight, there is more plastic in our seas than there are fish. If you also consider that each of us consumes the amount of a plastic credit card per week – for example, as food from the floor, as packaging or over clothing – then you can see how important the topic is. After that, we will accept semiconductors, metal, paper and so on.“
Cyber Defence Center
KBC has been implementing the platform principle at its in-house Cyber Defence Center for some time now. “We are part of a so-called Security Operation Center (SOC) and CERT network. We work closely with 596 other organizations, which means that we all use the experience together. Last year, we detected, co–lured and stored 770 billion events in our SOC – data that we share. Of these, we analyzed seven million ourselves, the rest was done by machine learning and with the help of classical technology. We have interacted with customers in around 1,000 cases. This is exactly the task of the Cyber Defence Center: to break down from billions of Allerts to the cases that are essential. If we were to handle the issue according to the project, we would never be able to offer every customer the same high degree of maturity,“ says Borenich.
In addition to the further development of the platforms, KBC wants to drive forward business, especially in the DACH region, and specifically close the gap between business in Austria and Germany. “We are already the market leader in Austria and we also want to achieve a relevant market position in Germany,” concludes Franz Semmernegg.