The Wienerberger Group has a twofold motivation to pursue the digital transformation. On the one hand, we know that digitalization is an absolute necessity if we want to consolidate our position as the world market leader and remain fit for the future. What can happen to a company that holds a dominating market position but fails to recognize the signs of the times is impressively demonstrated by the example of Nokia. In 2006, every other smartphone came from Finland; one year later, when Apple launched the iPhone and appeared on the market with a disruptive and seamlessly digital business model, Nokia’s rapid decline was unstoppable.
On the other hand, there is a passionate and visionary motivation behind our drive for digitalization. Wienerberger wants to be among the world’s best in digitalization. This not only helps us to consolidate our position as the world market leader, but also contributes to the Group’s sustainable and value-creating growth. Taking the lead in the building materials industry in terms of technology and innovation, the Wienerberger Group assumes responsibility for improving people’s quality of life on this planet, the only one we have. Sustainability is therefore firmly rooted in the corporate strategy.
Opportunities and challenges
The fact that the construction industry as a whole is lagging behind other sectors in terms of digitalization is not due to a lack of opportunities. Current studies show that digitalization offers numerous potential advantages along the entire value chain. The Wienerberger Group was quick to recognize the opportunities of digitalization and, earlier than others, began to take appropriate action in its role as technology and innovation leader, the objective being to advance the industry as a whole.
Wienerberger is fully aware of the fact that the digital transformation means a great deal more than the introduction of digital tools and platforms.
The digital transformation fundamentally changes the way we work, communicate, drive innovations and cooperate with our partners. Digitalization means a profound change in all business areas, it concerns all our teams and each and every one of our employees
Do we have the capability to manage this change?
The Wienerberger Group has three crucial assets that speak for its ability to cope with the challenges of the digital transformation: First, our corporate DNA enriched with the experience of two centuries, second, the company’s innovation culture, and third, the know-how and the passion of the highly motivated and experienced employees of the Group.
Innovation is in Wienerberger’s DNA
Digitalization is not the first profound transformation in the 200-year history of the company. There are two examples which clearly show that transformation is in Wienerberger’s DNA: industrialization in the 19th century and internationalization from the 1980s onward.
In the middle of the 19th century, the company produced 30 million bricks per year. 50 years later, after the introduction of mechanized production, which was pioneered by Wienerberger, the annual output amounted to 225 million. This was made possible, among other things, by the reduction of the firing process from 18 to 20 hours to no more than six hours. Thanks to this innovative development, the company soon positioned itself as the leading brick producer of the time.
Another profound transformation occurred in the 1980s, when the company began to expand beyond Austria’s borders. A central challenge of internationalization consisted in aligning the newly integrated entities with the principles of the company, such as decentralization, the promotion of entrepreneurship in the individual companies of the Group, and its multicultural orientation. As Wienerberger’s current market position confirms, the company succeeded in combining the necessary degree of centralization with the advantages of decentralization. Today, Wienerberger AG is the world's largest supplier of building material and infrastructure solutions with 195 plants in 30 countries.
Standardization as a prerequisite for digitalization
One of the crucial challenges in the digitalization of a multinational group is its internationality. In the past, the Wienerberger Group had a decentralized organizational structure. As networking between the Business Units was gaining in importance and the regions began to converge, the differences between the individual organizational units came to light: differences in data capture, standards, processes and even pricing.
At Corporate IT & Digitalization we have made it our foremost task to synchronize the way we work, communicate and manage our business. Entities, establishments and departments that used to be separate units are now coming closer to each other. This is essential for us as a Group, if we want to leverage the advantages of digitalization, benefit from synergies and implement innovations promptly throughout the Group.
BIM as a milestone on our way forward
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a key element of our digitalization strategy, which perfectly reflects Wienerberger’s platform concept. BIM stands for the optimized design and execution of buildings through the use of appropriate software. It is an intelligent digital building model that enables all those involved in a project - from the architect and the principal to the service engineer and the facility manager - to work together on the design and implementation of this integral model. Wienerberger thus delivers on its promise to support its customers as a business partner from the design phase through to the completion and use of a building.
Wienerberger has adopted the "open BIM" approach. This is an open strategy which allows users the freedom to choose their preferred processing tools and enables the partners involved in the planning and implementation of the project to coordinate their activities and exchange information on a design platform.
In our capacity as the industry’s innovation and technology leader, we not only create the foundation for trendsetting forms of cooperation within the Group and with our external partners, but also establish generally valid standards and thus advance the development of the entire industry.