Advancing into the Digital Age with Security

DEKRA isn’t just pushing ahead with internationalization but is also investing heavily in digitization and sustainability. In an interview with DEKRA solutions, the new DEKRA board members Ulrike Hetzel and Stan Zurkiewicz explain what will matter in the future.

Interview Ulrike Hetzel und Stan Zurkiewicz. Foto: Thomas Küppers
Interview with Ulrike Hetzel and Stan Zurkiewicz. Photo: Thomas Küppers

Ms. Hetzel, you’ve been on DEKRA’s Board of Management since April 2021. How did you experience the first few months?

Hetzel: I settled in very quickly and very well. The communication with colleagues went perfectly, even though most meetings were held via video due to Corona. Right from the start, I was impressed by the immense service portfolio in the eight Service Divisions. Diving deeper into this extensive portfolio is exciting and challenging.

Mr. Zurkiewicz, you have been with the company for twelve years. What important impulses have you taken with you from your time at DEKRA East & South Asia?

Zurkiewicz: My time in Asia was characterized by enormous growth at DEKRA. I see our expertise and, above all, our strong customer orientation as crucial success factors for this dynamic growth, which often reached double-digit rates per year. At the same time, our growth in Asia has also benefited greatly from the process support provided by the Service Divisions. It’s precisely this close cooperation between the Service Divisions and the six Regions worldwide, for which I’m responsible, that I see as the central basis for our continued success. If we become even better at this internationally, we’ll be able to unlock DEKRA’s full potential.

Interview Ulrike Hetzel and Stan Zurkiewicz. Photo: Thomas Küppers
Stan Zurkiewicz: “The foundations have been laid for the accelerated expansion of our services in cyber security and AI.” Photo: Thomas Küppers

Stan Zurkiewicz, born in 1979 in Gydnia, Poland, has been a member of the DEKRA Board of Management since January 1, 2021, and as COO is responsible for the DEKRA Regions, Operations, and Sales. Most recently, he was Executive Vice President responsible for DEKRA East & South Asia. Prior to that, he worked for DEKRA as General Manager China after the acquisition of KEMA Quality.

Where do you see growth potential for DEKRA’s service portfolio?

Hetzel: Future mobility, cyber security, and remote services, as well as analytics tools such as artificial intelligence and sustainability services are our priority in the coming years. The demand of our customers and the markets for solutions in these areas is immense. And we at DEKRA already have or are developing these solutions. All in all, I see enormous growth potential for DEKRA not only in Asia and North America, but also in our core European markets in particular.

Zurkiewicz: I agree completely. I’m sure that the leading industrialized countries in particular will invest a great deal after the Corona pandemic to transform the economy and make it more sustainable. The energy and mobility transformation will make up the lion’s share. Our ambition in terms of mobility of the future is to support the automotive manufacturers and suppliers in this paradigm shift with our expertise and services along the entire automotive value chain. In addition to e-mobility, the topic of hydrogen will also play an important role. This isn’t just about the vehicles themselves, but also about the infrastructure – for example, the generation, storage, and transport of this form of energy. Or consider also the certification of green hydrogen.

One of the DEKRA Strategy 2025 goals is the digitization of the entire service portfolio. How will this be achieved?

Hetzel: This goal is definitely challenging. But I’m very confident that we’ll achieve it. At DEKRA, we currently have a process and IT landscape that is, in some areas, too fragmented. Numerous good initiatives have already been taken throughout the company regarding digitization. Harmonization and standardization of processes is now an urgent task in order to create a foundation for an integrated IT platform and IT strategy. Simultaneously, we’re taking a close look at innovations and trends. The fact is: In future, the way we deliver our services will change. By this I mean new forms of work, increased digital interaction and innovation, as well as data-driven services. Corona has once again increased the pressure to digitize. There’s no time to lose.

Zurkiewicz: We’re actively involving the Regions in the digitization of our service portfolio. The importance of digitization is clear to all of us. We’re also continuing to build the necessary expertise for digitized services in the Regions. That way, we’re optimally serving the requirements of customers and markets.

Ulrike Hetzel, born in Kleve in North Rhine-Westphalia in 1972, has been a member of the DEKRA Board of Management since April 1, 2021, and as CTO is responsible for Services, Innovation, and IT. Most recently, she worked for more than five years at Robert Bosch GmbH – initially as Manager for Program & Transformation and Corporate IT, and later as a Member of the Executive Committee Corporate IT. Prior to that, she worked at IBM for 16 years – including as Managing Director of Infrastructure Technology Services.

VIP Interview DEKRA
Ulrike Hetzel: “In the medium term, continuous vehicle inspection will be required ‘over the air’.” Photo: Thomas Küppers

Since 2020, DEKRA has been investing in the future fields of cyber security and artificial intelligence. Where is this journey headed?

Zurkiewicz: If I look at the market segments we address with our cyber security services, then the industrial sector is also of great significance to us, in addition to the automotive sector. Just think of networked devices or machines, whose secure function increasingly depends on protection against cyberattacks. In addition to IT risk management and IT security monitoring, our cyber security solutions also include, among other things, product testing, certifications, audits, and training on the wide range of technologies and regulations. The foundations have thus been laid for accelerated expansion of our services in cyber security and AI.

Hetzel: We’re clearly positioning ourselves with the hub for artificial intelligence (AI) and the company-wide Cyber Security Hub. We invested heavily in both topics – AI and cyber security – in 2020. The goal is to use AI to further develop existing services and ensure that products enhanced with AI algorithms can be used safely. This applies equally to our Cyber Security Hub, which is working on solutions for secure digitization. Cyber security solutions are mainly about testing, checking, and auditing services, as well as training on the wide range of technologies and regulations. AI and cyber security affect many service areas. That’s why our colleagues in the hubs work closely with the Service Divisions that develop these services.

VIP Interview DEKRA
In the interview, Ulrike Hetzel and Stan Zurkiewicz explain the priorities DEKRA is setting. Photo: Thomas Küppers

Let’s talk about secure mobility: DEKRA wants to become a global partner for automotive cyber security by 2025. What strategic goals have been set and how will connected and automated driving affect vehicle testing?

Zurkiewicz: We already work closely with international automotive OEMs and suppliers for automotive cyber security. We’ll continue to push this cooperation in order to expand our position as one of the leading contacts. Given the increasing importance of electronic systems and software in cars, and the growing number of connected and automated vehicles in the future, the risk of hacker attacks will inevitably grow. In terms of safe and secure mobility and increasing digitization, we’ve therefore also given high priority in recent years to establishing an international test network with competence centers in Klettwitz (Germany), Málaga (Spain), and Hsinchu (Taiwan). To complement this, we’re currently establishing a state-of-the-art test center in Mainland China with a domestic partner to test key technologies in the areas of wireless communication, connectivity, AI, geoinformation systems, and cyber security.

Hetzel: Networking and automation also have a significant impact on vehicle testing. In view of the huge volumes of data generated by vehicles with their many control units and sensors, it will soon no longer be sufficient to check the technical state every two years. In the medium term, continuous vehicle testing “over the air” will be required. Particularly since software updates from vehicle manufacturers will in future no longer be carried out by cable in workshops, but increasingly wirelessly. A vehicle can become fundamentally different within a very short time if safety-relevant driving functions for automated driving are changed in an update. That’s why we need direct and independent access to test-relevant data and diagnostic functions. Ultimately, this is also the idea behind the data trustee model, which we together with other test organizations are calling for. Its task is to organize access to the data, its storage, and its management.

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