Achieving sustainability requires that companies know what’s in their product, know their suppliers, and understand their direct and indirect environmental impact.
By digitising the life cycles of products and supply chains, iPoint is driving industry transparency and empowering business to achieve sustainability.
Today we speak with iPoint CEO Joerg Walden about how digitising processes is a key step towards the circular economy.
Early in our conversation, Joerg highlights how expanding knowledge around digitising life cycles can drive new business models.
A significant theme this episode, Joerg shares how a mindset shift, and not only tech, is critical in fostering sustainable practices.
We then discuss the challenges presented by innovation-based product cycles before diving into the intersectional nature of product design, and how only a shared information system can ensure product compliance. A tricky subject for many organisations, Jorge explains the strategic benefits of becoming more transparent and how this can generate solutions to many issues that plague different sectors.
Near the end of the episode, we touch on the opportunities created through digitisation, and how sustainability is affected when companies are responsible for providing a service usage to consumers, instead of selling products.
Tune in to hear more about what iPoint is doing to drive transparency through digitisation.
Joerg Walden is Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of iPoint-systems, a leading provider of software and consulting for sustainable products, value chains, and brands.
He draws on 30 years of technology industry leadership, software development expertise, and executive management experience. At iPoint, Joerg is responsible for the business strategy, product strategy, and innovation management. Since its founding in 2001 as a small automotive-focused company, he has transformed iPoint into a multinational, globally operating market leader with a clientele of tens of thousands of companies from various industry sectors.
Joerg places great value upon an open, continuous culture of innovation, a high degree of customer focus, a global partner network, and the monitoring of relevant standards and trends in order to provide solutions that are always one step ahead. He is driven by the vision of how today’s solutions can contribute to securing a sustainable world for future generations.
“Technology solutions shouldn’t be just for the sake of creating technology. No, technology must be used for supporting business demands." @JoergWalden
Tune in to find out:
- Introducing Joerg Walden, CEO of iPoint Systems.
- How creating a circular economy relies on expanding knowledge about materials.
- Joerg discusses the major drivers of the digital circular economy.
- Exploring the mindset change needed to develop sustainable product cycles.
- iPoint’s goal to help industries design more environmentally-friendly products.
- Hear the major production changes that Joerg has seen in the last 20 years.
- Breaking silos and the importance of combining informational systems to ensure product compliance.
- The challenges around protecting intellectual property and accessing product design data.
- Approaches to transparency and why companies are increasingly sharing their data.
- How consumer demands are pushing for industry compliance with environmental concerns.
- Fostering trust by using secure systems for information exchange.
- How sharing information and risk will lead to better innovation and new business models.
- The difference between being responsible for product usage versus the product itself.
- Why there’s a knowledge gap about how products are used.
- Ways that companies can rethink their value chain to become more transparent.
- Joerg shares his 20-year vision for iPoint and his view that the future is filled with opportunity.
- And much more!
“The final goal is that every person in an organisation understands how their contribution leads to a sustainable product." @JoergWalden
Links mentioned in this episode:
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Barry O'Kane 0:05
Welcome back to Happy Porch Radio. This is Season Five and we’re talking about the Circular Economy and all things Digital-Software. This episode, I’m delighted to be joined again by Emily and our guest, Joerg Walden who is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of iPoint Systems, a leading provider of software and consulting for sustainable products, value chains and brands. Since its founding in 2001 as a small automotive-focused company, he has transformed iPoint into a multinational, globally operating market leader with a clientele of tens of thousands of companies across various industries.
In this conversation, we really talked a lot about the digital circular economy to use iPoint’s terminology and digitisation and the broad impact of how difficult and important it is to gather data in order to be sustainable and especially in order to open up some of the circular economy opportunities.
Emily Swaddle 0:59
Yeah, it was a really interesting conversation. Joerg’s experience and kind of depth of knowledge is really clear, he mentioned on the outside that he’s been doing this for 20 years. And, obviously a lot has changed in the industry and in the world in the past 20 years. Kinda get his perspective on how things are developing and how things can potentially move forward with data and technology as a tool for that, was really interesting.
Barry O'Kane 1:29
Yeah, something that is I think that stood out particularly from this conversation is definitely for me a recurring theme, is the purpose of the use of technology or the digital or the design process — not just for its own sake and I think that’s something that, within the sort of digital sector or technology software sector, is something that I feel is often missing. It’s like we get obsessed with the tools rather than the reason we work we’re trying to do with those tools and I thought in this conversation with Joerg really clear talking about the challenges and things that are right now but also some of the opportunities in this and the potential to plug some of these big gaps in data and understanding in order to have an impact, rather than just in order to have a cool data tool.
Emily Swaddle 2:19
Yeah, I think the thing that we’ve kind of touched on, not particularly said it explicitly in many of our conversations is the fact that all these companies, all these solutions are run by human beings, you know, there is obviously the tech and the digital is there as a tool. That the inspiration for it and the motivation behind it comes from the humans that are involved, Joerg being one of them.
And he mentioned himself that in every organisation that he works with, he wants people to understand their role in making that product more sustainable. Every individual person understanding how they’re part of this team, part of this process and I think that that’s a really powerful message in terms of the transition towards the circular economy.
Barry O'Kane 3:05
Yeah, exactly. And that's, I think one of the things I really enjoy about the Circular Economy concepts or the language that Circular Economy enables is, it kind of clarifies how and sort of opens, clarifies the opportunities that open up whenever you have approach it with that kind of mindset. So without any further ado, let's meet Joerg!
Joerg Walden 3:30
Hello, everybody. This is Joerg Walden, IPoint systems. So my personal profession is I'm an IT guy driven with a long, deep background history, founded iPoint nearly 20 years ago. And the major focus about what we're doing is trying to generate transparency, we really try to use data IT systems to generate a better world circularity, and improve material usage, energy usage, around production industries. And that's what we're doing the last 20 years, and that's what we want to do the next 20 years. So happy to be here, happy to answer your questions, and dive into technology.
Barry O'Kane 4:10
Excellent. Yeah. Wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us. This whole season, as you know, and as the listener knows, is about Circular Economy and digital and software in the Circular Economy. So I was really keen to speak to yourself about the work that you're doing. To sort of help set that up. I wonder, so there's an excellent page on your site, which has some videos and some introduction stuff that I will make sure we link in the show notes. And it introduces the term Digital Circular Economy. So maybe to start, you could tell us a little bit about what that means and what that means for iPoint systems.
Joerg Walden 4:43
Yeah, definitely. Yeah. I think, like I said, I'm a really IT driven guy. So I was born in the really grown up technology area in the last 20 25 30 years. And what I learned is that if we use IT systems in the right way and digitalisation in the right way, I think we can learn a lot faster, we have a lot more access to data to information to knowledge. And for me if you're thinking about a circular economy, so meaning shifting away from the linear thinking, to generate products out of sourcing, mining stuff, materials, production usage, throwing it away in the bin, yeah. So how can we really break into a circular economy? And for me, it's a knowledge problem. So we should understand where do we use what, how do we use our materials? How are they produced? What is best practices? Maybe even, and this is the major driver behind the digital Circular Economy, for me thinking about new business models. So the main point behind everything here is we have to rethink our mindset in the way how do we use products. And I think there's a lot of discussions at this point with sharing economy and others. And for this, we need a lot of data. So digitalisation of the total lifecycle of materials, maybe multiple life cycles, multi generation materials and things like this. It's for me, the major driver in the future, if we want to shape a circular economy.
Barry O'Kane 6:16
Yeah, that makes complete sense. And I think what is definitely becoming a theme for us for the season is that how important or how this sort of process is a mindset shift, rather than just a tactic or a technology that we just use, and nothing else changes. So before we talk about the digitalisation and some of the work that you actually do, I'm interested in how you see when you say that mind shift change, how you see that? What does that actually entail?
Joerg Walden 6:44
So I think it depends a little bit from the direction where you're coming from. Yeah. So I think if you start, it depends on the industry, what industries you are, I don't know, electronic industry, or, like we heard maybe even the iPhone and things like this. Yeah. So if you really think about innovations, and how we are producing products, today - the life time of product, it's really shortened on the one side, so we want to have every new iPhone, we want to have every new laptop. So on the one side, we are all consuming more and more products. That's clear. And industry is living from this highly innovative cycles. And this is also transferred from software technology into physical products and the ones. And if we see this, what does it mean, at the end? If you really want to consume, and you want to consume sustain, you have to think about what does it mean if we are using products so short? And what does it mean to the minerals to the resources of the earth, to the energy consumption and things like this? And how can we improve this. This mindset shift in highly innovation and combining these highly innovation product cycles with not consuming natural resources for the high innovations? I think that's quite an interesting approach. And this is what we have to think about. What can we do? How do we have to produce our products that we can keep the resources we are consuming in the production as long as possible in the product in the future and the materials? And can we use them in second life and the third life and fourth life in the future? And if you think about digitalisation, and it in the moment, we all know that smart devices, IoT Internet of Things, and whatever are coming. So the resource consumption for the digitalisation, it's huge.
Emily Swaddle 8:36
Yeah, I think that's a really cool opportunity that you pointed to that, there's a lot of innovation that happens, but how do we do it in a way that's more ecologically sustainable and ecologically friendly? You mentioned when you introduced yourself that you are an IT guy, and that's your professional background. So how did you get to the point where you were thinking more about this circularity? How did your mindset shift to get to this point?
Joerg Walden 9:03
Good question. Thanks. Yeah, maybe a little bit more to my background. I’m — how to call? — Serial entrepreneur, even when I was studying, quite a while ago, yeah? There was the first touch to production industries. I’m living in the area here in Stuttgart, and there’s a lot of automotive and production industries. And we are started, at this point of time, the combination of internal IT infrastructure systems, so — “How can we learn from quality systems, planning systems.” All the different systems that you typically have in your internal environment in one ecosystem of an organisation, yeah?
How can you combine this kind of data to make better products. So, quality management, production management, planning management, inside the organisation. This was heavily driven in the 90s in this industry. And when I saw the internet will come, at this point of time, where the push off and in the B2C market was really high, it was clear that the impact of IT in the supply chain and how we produce product in the future were coming.
The visibility of — “What can we do if we are having a virtual organisation who is really having data from different organisations and combining.” It’s also where the name comes from, iPoint, integration point. This was my wish at this point of time, “ Oh, wonderful. We are coming in a totally different dimension though, how do we connect data over, not limited by system boundaries often organisation.” Unlimited in the — we call this today, a digital twin, so turning a little bit around.
The way I’m thinking about really an unbounded information system, what’s not locked in, in one organisation, in one plant, what’s really on top of this. This idea brought me then from quality to production systems, into — “How can we make better products, more sustained, more long-term? What are the usage models, and how are the usage models changing of the products.” What impact does it have to design. Design environment, designed for recyclability and all the stuff around.
It was a really 20 years, how to say, path. Learning curve from better products, improving quality, improving material usage, improving energy in, okay, why just improve, why not totally rethink how we use? And what does it mean and where can we change something, where can we change something? In the design.
How can we bring all these data to the point where the people are thinking about — “What are they designing and what are they designing for in the lifecycle of the product?”
Barry O'Kane 11:57
Yeah, as you’ve said, that’s sort of a 20 year journey, a 20 year path of going through that process. How is that — or how much has that changed? I mean, 20 years is, it seems like a long time to us as individuals but in the grand scheme of things, you know, it’s not a long time. But so much has changed in the last 20 years so I’m interested in how you’ve seen that changes, as you said, you’ve learned as the world around us has changed?
Joerg Walden 12:21
The question comes more or less from this product cycle thinking here. If you look back, if you compare Tesla with the — I would say stand out automotive drivers, what is different there? It’s kind of speed and innovation. How fast are we developing the product in the moment, how high is the innovation cycle and what is the expectation of the end consumer to products, yeah. Just 20 years ago, it was normal that you need — seven or more years, seven plus X years to really design a new car, for example. That was more or less stun on there.
You have your processors, licensing, and things like this. It takes time to increase the quality. Now, as more and more software, as more and more digitised systems joined or merged into the production process in the end product, It starts getting, really an issue on speed and performance. Because seven years in how many generation of digital innovations you have in seven years. It’s unbelievable.
That’s a huge problem and how can you combine then, the one speed of creating high quality, physical products with everything around. With the speed, what we are used in — okay, we got a lot of updates, a lot of changes, a lot of new things are coming in the digital world. And how can we combine these two different life cycles of the physical product with the digital.
This was the biggest change, you see, and this is a huge transformation in the industry. And this is not only in your ecosystem, in your environment, in your organisation. You have to combine this with your business partners with the supply chain and everything together. This is, for me, an interesting opportunity. How can we call co-competition, co-corporate in building new business models and higher innovation cycles. To learn faster, to understand better and to consume knowledge from business partners in our product design and product innovation.
Barry O'Kane 14:25
Yeah, that is, you’re definitely right I think when you talk about that is the speed of innovation, the speed of iteration, speed of things changing and the challenge of needing that data to be more than just within my own silo, it’s going to be across the supply chain and everywhere. Can you describe, maybe let’s try and make this a bit more concrete.
Do you have an example or a story of how in your work, you’re looking to sort of digitise and pull this kind of data and this knowledge together?
Joerg Walden 14:54
Yeah, I think, if you look back in the history where we originally started for example, yes? We really started in getting more or less material information about complex products together — “How can you measure what’s in your product, what are you using, where are — how toxic is the product? Is it allowed to use it in whatever different scenario.” Or, in a different region, things like this, was really the chemical composition more or less, what we try to analyse, what you try to check against multiple regulations in the world.
This was one silo and it’s still, if you look in the organisation, it’s heavily siloed, yeah? And then more and more, the people had started thinking about “Okay, now, we have chemical compositions of products.” And that’s our one, but then they identified, “Wait, if there’s something in the plan, that's the environmentally health and safety area, where are you looking about your security, safety workers, and instructions, chemicals you're using, in the production.” Then we learned, “Wait, chemical production is not so independent because at the end, if you have a cleaner who is forbidden potentially, you cannot put — use it in your product anymore.” So the impact of environment health and safety to compliance was clear.
We are starting combining this data and showing the impact on multiple levels and not only on the end product, also combined with maybe chemical risks in the production. The next step was, “Wait, now, everybody thinks about carbon neutrality, everybody starts thinking about energy and things like this.” So typically you have a totally independent department of sustainability. And they are looking at water usage, energy usage, and things like this, material usage that is independent from the product.
But now, today if you want to have the carbon neutral product, you cannot start to do this independently. We also have to combine this energy-related information to the product. Another dimension in this. Really, moving from step-by-step into silo driven-domains. And this is I think maybe historically driven by system providers, by departments and it’s not under process. It's more on the boundaries of departments, and we have to break these boundaries and combine the information systems that you have a product-related overview without boundaries.
Emily Swaddle 17:19
Yeah, breaking silos and pulling everyone to the other is notoriously a challenging task in any industry. You’ve talked a lot about all the kind of different kinds of data that have to come together and the challenges behind digital-twinning. And kind of tracking the digital life cycle of materials. From a practical stand point, coming from my perspective of not understanding too much about the technical side of this data collection.
— How does it work in terms of initially getting these materials into this data system? Is there a lot of kind of manual data collection that has to go on? How does that look that you’re working with a customer? And how do you set it up with the client? What’s the kind of practical steps to get there?
Joerg Walden 18:09
I think you hit at the right point here, getting the data is still tough, you know-on the one side, you have a lot of discussions about intellectual property and security. And, as you know, we are talking in the really early stage of a development of a product. Or that’s a high risk area. If somebody knows what you’re doing and getting this information, you're losing your competitive advantage there. So it's a high risk area of data out of multiple elements and you know, good point.
Typically, what you do is we are connecting to design, technical systems like PLM, PDM systems, engineering systems and things like this. Where you have a first draft idea of a product, where you have some potential taking over from the last version. Or maybe some usage of things like this and you started then getting information out of multiple channels — so how do you connect, collect. We have a so-called “Care Concept — collect, connect, analyze, report, and involve.
How do you collect and connect information systems, data systems, out of your supply chain, on the one side but also internal system, trying to load material composition information as much as possible. You still will miss anything because also the material engineering area, it’s heavily increasing and so they are designing new materials faster than you can think about them.
Compound materials and things like this. On the one side you try to get out for standard materials, maybe out of libraries, out of your supply chain, you’re trying to get some information. Some of the information comes from testing centres, the take industry testing especially in collection of data is also heavily aggregating data. And giving you some information. And this is where you are starting connecting different data points than into I would say, full representative composition of your product. Of your design. And there more data points as you get, as better you can understand your dependencies and your risks on special materials, on special usages and special compositions.
The hardest point for sure is if you’re having complex supply chains, maybe international supply change, specific regents with high intellectual property, materials and things like this. And then you’re coming to an area where there’s a lot of discussion, this is the huge challenge here, how do you get this? The big advantage, more and more, is generating more trust and specifically going into this intellectual properties, a lot of discussions, the moment with block chain, yeah?
How can you use higher and secure systems, transforming, and transporting data with higher security and trust from the different parties in a system. How can you use something like this? So that’s again the technology who supports the business demands. And this is always the way — how I try to think about — “Can we use technology to support business demands? Not technology just for technology reasons. No, technology must be used for supporting business demands.”
Emily Swaddle 21:15
Yeah. So I mean, you mentioned that the risk is significantly high, I suppose, or potentially high for clients in terms of privacy and protecting intellectual property. And yet, there is enough of a pull to have this digital twinning and, and have the whole system in place. What do you think it is specifically, that motivates your clients to do this, despite the potential risks? And how do you go about kind of easing those risks or the clients fears of them?
Joerg Walden 21:51
I mean the one thing is you have a couple of laws and regulations where transparency is more and more requested. As you maybe know in Europe, we have this waste frame territory. We have the reach and we have other regulations where the end, I would say piece of transparency is requested. And you have to get data and by law, you are pushed to get this data and to make it transparent if somebody wants to see it in, the short-term.
So the processes who needs to be established are coming more and more in place here. I mean that is the good part here. So, on the other side, it is clear that if you want to move faster you have to think about this. Okay, maybe it makes sense to share a little bit for my information to be part of this bigger community and to learn faster, to innovate faster, and to get into the cycle. So it is a little bit of a balance, strong balance. A really hard balance for some organisations to open this transparency.
I think there's are a couple of organisations like for example we did this with Logitech now. They make a carbon footprint for every product. I think there are still first-movers and they are setting some points — how do you want to call this? Where everybody says “Oh, there is a new area starting now and we have to follow.” So the questions are, “Are you a first-mover? Are you a follower?” Innovative combination of data and data points and systems.
And what is driving you at the end? High-innovative products? Different kinds of business models? The different kinds of designing and speeding up the processes? It is a balance of what's strong, what is definitely not fully done at the moment, definitely. So there is a lot of business partners and industries still not open in sharing too much information. That is clear.
But the question is how long is it possible and what is your differentiation in the future? And if you are thinking about other business models. And other ecosystems and combining the three P’s, you have people, plan and profit approaches into our products in the future.
Emily Swaddle 24:00
And on that point of the three P's, the sustainability side of things as well? Is that up there as a big reason for companies coming in and working with you? Is it something that you've experienced resistance against? Or is it kind of a response to greater consumer awareness of these things that companies want to respond to that?
Joerg Walden 24:22
I would say it is a combination of consumer demands on the one side. I mean we see this also heavily known in Europe with the Green Deal and also regulations of sustainable restart after COVID discussions here. So it is a combination of governmental consumer demand. And then you have, for sure, you have some really business leaders here, who really want to set a point and say, “Okay we can do this. We can create a product out of recycled stuff. We can really keep materials in the cycle. We want to extend the lifetime of our products,” and things like that.
I think it is a combination of a lot of multiple directions. And maybe it is also supported a little bit by better technologies and trust in technologies like blockchain and other things here that people are really thinking, “Okay, nobody can change the visibility of my information. I still have the full control here.”
It is a little bit losing control of information. It is tough for some organisations and if you show them, “Okay guys, if you have a smart contract, whatever in place, we can support that nobody can change it if you don’t accept it.” Nobody can make a box in software that the visibility is strange, and things like this. So giving them a trusted infrastructure, giving them a trust system helps them also jumping over this barrier of losing control you know?
Emily Swaddle 25:54
Yeah, I think that it is a really good point that it is difficult for a lot of — especially I think bigger businesses to consider the idea that it is okay. It is acceptable. It’s even maybe advisable to let some of this information out into the world. And we have certainly seem to be shifting really dramatically away from a protection of all data to more of an open sharing kind of idea. So I think there is a bit of a shift within this mindset that we have been talking about.
And towards this transition of a circular economy. As you mentioned, in order to progress faster and faster, sometimes the best idea is to share what you’ve got with other people and look at what they are doing. And kind of integrate things together, which goes against the traditional capitalist competitive mindset, I think. And interesting that you mentioned as well how digital technologies have a part in that and how better the technology is becoming much more trustworthy.
In order to share this information in a way that does make organisations more comfortable. That is really interesting.
Joerg Walden 27:10
It is a co-competition, the model is. How can you reap on the one side? And I mean we see this in multiple areas. You know again, the automotive industry. Look at the challenges that they have today. It’s huge, even for the largest. On the one-side, you have to discuss, “Okay, what are you using in the future? Is it diesel? Are we using gasoline? Are we using hybrid? Are we using electric? Are we using hydrogen?” So there is a lot of different fundamental decisions that they need to make and they are huge on the one-side.
On the other side, they have to think about autonomous driving and sharing economy. And so, even for the largest organisations today, I think it is impossible to manage all of the faster and faster moving innovation cycles and designing the product in the right direction, if they are not really focusing on specific areas and value chain networks. I don’t want to call this anymore the supply chain anymore. It is really a value chain network where they all together are responsible for the end-product. That is another dimension yet. It is another dimension, maybe even another kind of organisation in the future. How we are working together, when we are all maybe with the full-risk, getting our payments, yeah?. If you think about a model, we could be responsible for the product and just at the end of the design of the product or the end of the shipment of the product everybody gets paid, maybe with a blockchain or whatever, yeah?
So the risk and the model and the structure is totally different. I think this comes more and more into this digital generation. A generation set or way, who gets more responsive now in the industry too. So the mindset of the one side of the technology and the other side, the need from the end-consumer, the government, all of these combination together gives us a mix of rethinking how we are building products. And what kind of information we need and what way forward. And we cannot produce 20 years, the same kind of style of products. So it is absolutely impossible here.
Barry O'Kane 29:19
And I think that is an interesting thing that ties it back to something you said earlier about, well, the mindset but also about changing business models. Which is obviously a big part of circular economy conversations. I think what you’re saying there is that having that data or that visibility or that knowledge on top of the technology, or in the technology. Were you saying that that is sort of enabling or allowing different business models and different approaches?
Joerg Walden 29:48
Not even allowing, maybe only enabling it. So if you look about now for example, I think I am always using this wonderful example of Philips and of the airport of Amsterdam. So think about a company like Philips buildings lamps, yeah? So what processes do you need to have and what understanding do you need? So you are creating your lamps, you have been your sales force just pushing, pushing, pushing, more, more, more. And, “I make a lot of money if I am selling a lot of lamps.” Wonderful.
Now think about weight. We are not selling lamps anymore, we are selling light. What does that mean? You really want to produce more and more and more? Definitely not because you have to spend more resources in getting the same output. So if you are just getting the money for the responsibility of the output, you start totally — “Oh wait. We have to recycle this, we have to think about energy, what we are using. And oh wait, when should we change them? There is a new technology lease.”
So you have to balance when do you substitute what resources you have, maybe what can you reuse if you are getting them back out of the resources you have in there, out of the technology. So thinking about the total life cycle, thinking about the total life cycle of the product — it’s quite a challenge. It is not easy and there is a big black hole in most industries today and this will change in the next 10 to 20 years.
We don’t have a lot of experience of how our products are used today. And so normally, you’re selling your product — it is gone. You don’t know if it is used, how often it’s used and things like this. Most of the industry has really have no [inaudible] how — really often and whatever the product are used they’re selling in the market. And so but if you are going in these connected devices and these internet of things and the smart devices and smart connect, everything is more or less connected. everything sends data to something. So the knowledge of how our products are used, over engineered, under engineered, and where and what and whatever. This will change heavily with these digitalisation of assets. And as more assets are digitised, it is better we learn and it is better we can improve the usage. Maybe not selling products, just giving them away for usage.
And I think this is really a combination of technology, what goes into the market, learning from technology, and improving the usage. What starts with a digital cycle then an improvement cycle. And give us a lot more possibilities what can we do and how can we use product more efficient and the material is more efficient in the future.
Barry O'Kane 32:30
Yeah and that ties into again to several of the other conversations we’ve had these seasons. So it is definitely a recurring theme and a really important thing that is happening right now. But also the point you made about the aspiration, like this big black hole of knowledge. The need that is getting filled. I wanted to contrast that with the more I guess fundamental or prosaic questions, or, I guess a starting point from a linear to a circular economy.
So doing your blog, on ipoint-systems.com, there’s a really interesting series of articles but one stood out for me and it was a very simple set of questions. Like, “Business transparency helps answer three fundamental questions. Do you know what is in your product? Do you know your suppliers, and do you know your direct and indirect impact?” And it seems to me that what you were just talking about there and having the ability to rethink the way that — instead of selling lamps, we are actually selling light, or the equivalent in other sectors.
But even kind of the journey from, “I don’t know anything about my supply chain,” there are all of these horror stories and particularly in the fashion industry or textile industry about things. Horrendous disasters and places like Bangladesh and then the brands who don’t even know that that is where — they don’t know that they are contributing to that and it is maybe two or three tiers down in the supply chain. So with the work that you are doing, how much do you see is kind of businesses just trying to get a handle on what their current —
You know, just trying to understand their supply chain and answering those three questions. And how much are people who are kind of moving beyond that to thinking about their business models and these bigger aspirational mindset changes.
Joerg Walden 34:09
Oh, good question. Yeah, I think we have a little bit we call as a [inaudible] model, the way we are trying to explain our customs a little bit. You say, “Okay the fundamental of everything is compliance,” yes? So it’s the basic is a ground floor in, so if you are not compliant, I mean, you cannot be sustained, yeah? It is impossible. So the first thing is always — and then you see, I will say, a big split between — do the people trust? “Ah, compliance. I don’t like compliance, oh no go away.
Okay, just do it hiring a service provider, managing this, done. So there is just a checking the box and pushing this forward. Go-go-go-go. So the question is really, do the people understand the value of the data? Do the people understand the opportunity they are having with this? And the possibility of more sustainable business, maybe, even what is clearly shown more revenue and more profits on the long-term sustainable businesses.
It shows clearly that they make more revenue, yeah? So it is a mindset. It is a leader, a question at the end. And a responsibility question from the leader from the management, “How do they really see this and how do they want to connect the dots inside the organisation?” What is the first tough step? Then you have maybe the sustainability office and things like these. So it gets a little bit of budget but that is also not the final goal.
The final goal if you have a transformed organisation. If you have a sustainable organisation, every person in the organisation knows exactly — “If I make a decision, what is the impact of my decision to my product and to sustainability of my product here?” So I can just buy cheap materials in China or whatever. If energy costs and other things are extremely high, if transparency in the production plan is really uncertain, yeah? And things like this. So every person needs to understand in the organisation where and how is their contribution to a sustainable product?
And if you are there then you reach the final goal and then the organisation is really fully understanding how they have to work together in creating sustainable products and what is the impact of their decision and the end product itself here?
Barry O'Kane 36:36
So to finish up, what I'm interested in is, I guess- your vision of how were you and iPoint systems, you talked about being around for 20 years, and looking forward to the next 20 years at the start of this? So what is your vision for that?
Joerg Walden 36:50
So I think my wish is really that we are understanding the impact of — “What are we doing with our own production and with our product at the end?” So how can we make sustainable product so that we fully can create a sustainable world in the future where we understanding what materials are we using, what is the impact like, I said, to the people, to the planet. And how can we at the end with information help faster innovate and build better products for the future. And enable a future for our children and grandchildren, yeah?
And I think this is where I wanted to support a little bit and showing this and helping the organisations in creating more sustainable product with giving them the right data, making the right decisions and improving to get the impact as low as possible to the earth, to the environment and still having fun and using products and at the end. So I am really not the person who wants to downsize everything. So I think we have to understand and make an impact visible.
And to reduce the impact to the environment and the ecological system, I want to be helping everybody in the product generated to do this and as easy as cost-efficient and to sustain there as possible here.
Barry O'Kane 38:14
Yeah, that ties really strongly to something that's that you said during our conversation that really stood out for me as well. It's not technology for technology's sake. But the reason for this data, the reason for the technology, the reason for looking at tackling some of these difficult problems of gathering the data and, you know, protecting privacy and IP, and how to share that and expose that data to the right people who are making decisions, design decisions and so on. That ties back to what you just said there about that you didn't mention technology, you mentioned the outcomes and the impacts of the work, I think is really powerful.
Joerg Walden 38:49
Yeah, I think we have to understand the different positions. And we have to try to align them to generate the best output. And that is always what I am trying to do here. So it is using even I am like I said the IT guy, I think from here it is a tool. It is technology but that should help in making things better, easier, and understandable. And then I think this is unbelievable for me if we see how much information and data and knowledge we can get today. And how is this increasing every year?
If we use this right, reduce redundancy, improve faster and learn faster, that’s a wonderful opportunity and a big opportunity in what we should use and if we use this right, we can make it a lot better here. I am fully trusted in this thing.
Barry O'Kane 39:44
And that's a really positive note to finish on, talking about the opportunity. Very final question just before we finish up for people who want to find out more about the work you're doing and about iPoint Systems. Where should they go?
Joerg Walden 39:56
I think we have a couple of blogs, we have LinkedIn, we have sure- webpage www.ipoint-systems.com. And names, contact me also on LinkedIn, whatever, I'm open for every discussion. Looking forward for getting feedback, looking forward for learning. That's, I think, the most important point and really happy to be connected and protected by everybody.
Barry O'Kane 40:20
Excellent, thank you. As usual, we'll put the notes, those links into the show notes on HappyPorchRadio.com. Thank you so much. That was a really great conversation. Really appreciate your time. And hopefully, that's another great insight into those of us who are working in software and digital, and kind of hearing your vision and your inspiration and the story and the opportunities and the challenges in all of that. I find that really inspiring. Thank you so much.
Joerg Walden 40:41
Emily, Barry, thanks for your time. Thanks for giving me the opportunity here to talk. Thanks very much and enjoy your day.
Emily Swaddle 40:48
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