Dr. Wolfgang Köstler Appointed New CEO
- Founder and former CEO Harald Grumser moves to the Supervisory Board
- Thorsten Meudt becomes new member of the Executive Board as Chief Technology Officer
- Reinhard Fischer is responsible for product development
Effective July 1 of this year, Dr. Wolfgang Köstler was appointed as the new CEO of Compart AG. He thus succeeds founder and owner Harald Grumser, who moved to the Supervisory Board and will chair it in the future. The three-member board also includes Christof Mayer (Chief Research Officer) and Thorsten Meudt as Chief Technology Officer. Reinhard Fischer was also appointed Chief Development Officer on July 1. In this position, he is responsible for all product development and reports to Thorsten Meudt.
Harald Grumser: "I managed Compart for 29 years and developed it up to Compart 4.0. Now it is time for younger people to take the helm. Compart is my child, which has now fledged. I will continue to guide it with a lot of advice and a little less action and make sure this child continues to do well." According to Grumser, Compart has never been in as good a position as it is today and now has the most well-coordinated management team ever in the company's history. Above all, the transition of the entire product portfolio to a component-based architecture and the development of new solutions and components, which began four years ago, is a very solid basis for ensuring growth in the future, according to Compart's outgoing CEO and new chairman of the supervisory board.
Wolfgang Köstler: "Compart has been firmly established in the market for years and has a high reputation. This is borne out by the growing number of well-known customers, who are themselves market leaders in their respective industries." This good reputation naturally obliges, the new CEO continues. After Compart has invested heavily in new products in recent years, these are now to be stepped up and targeted for market success. Especially in the product business (software licenses and subscriptions), Köstler intends to further increase growth in his new role as CEO. "Our strong financial position allows us to continue to invest in product development at a high level, while expanding even more through the expansion of our sales force." According to Köstler, Compart is aiming for further expansion in North America in particular, in addition to Western and Northern Europe.
Thorsten Meudt, Chief Technology Officer: "With the transformation to Compart 4.0, as Harald Grumser calls it, we have set the right priorities in recent years and put Compart in a good starting position for the coming years. In addition to the architecture, we will therefore focus very strongly in the next few years on further expanding our offering functionally, especially in the areas of transactional processing, digital input and output channels, and interactive workflows." Integration into and interaction with third-party systems via interfaces that are as open as possible will also play a major role, he said.
Thorsten Meudt, who was already responsible for product management among other things in his previous role as Chief Marketing Officer, refers in this context to numerous challenging and successful projects in the past and current fiscal year for transactional and interactive processing in customer communications, including at WWF Switzerland (integration of document creation and processing in Salesforce.com).
"Based on the experience gained so far in these pilot projects, we therefore want to develop robust standard components in the coming years, which will then be available to all customers. Of course, this also includes the further development of our DocBridge® Pilot and DocBridge® Mill Plus solutions, which have been used successfully for years and which, after all, reflect our classic strengths in output management."
With the component-based architecture, Compart has set up a state-of-the-art technology that gives customers a very high degree of flexibility in the deployment and operation of solutions and components of the DocBridge® family, according to the new Chief Technology Officer. According to Meudt, the microservices-based approach, which requires no client installations at all, is suitable for "anyPremise", from a single server in the company's own data center to a fully orchestrated container solution at cloud service providers such as Amazon and Microsoft.
Reinhard Fischer, new Chief Development Officer, adds: "Our customers are increasingly asking for container-based solutions that can be quickly and easily integrated into their existing infrastructures. Our goal is therefore to use container technologies such as Docker, Kubernetes and OpenShift to make DocBridge® Gear the platform for customer communications of the future. This is, of course, a big task for me in my new role as well." The new head of development sees supporting the agile development teams in the technical implementation of Compart's strategy as a key goal of his new job.
Interview on the Change in the Board of Management
Compart founder and former CEO Harald Grumser says the company has laid decisive foundations for strong, continued growth by transferring its entire product portfolio to a component-based architecture. Grumser will remain closely associated with the company in his new role as Chairman of the Supervisory Board.
Learn more about Compart's market position and strategic goals in this interview with Grumser, CEO Dr. Wolfgang Köstler, and Chief Technology Officer Thorsten Meudt.
Compart has never been better positioned than today
1. It‘s often said that one should leave when the going gets toughest. That begs the question: Why make these changes now?
Harald Grumser: I managed Compart for 29 years and developed it up to Compart 4.0. Now it‘s time for younger people to take the helm. Compart is my child, and it has now flown. I’ll continue accompanying it with a lot of advice and a little less action and make sure this child continues to do well.
To put it bluntly: Compart has never been in such a good position. It currently has the best-prepared management team in the company‘s history.
Four years ago, we set out to transfer our entire product portfolio to a new, component-based architecture. When we realized how difficult it was for our development team to break down the previous product silos, I took over the department myself. At the time, I said I would do it for three years. That time is up now, and we‘ve put development on a completely new footing. We‘ve invested eight figures developing new products and components that will secure our growth in the future.
2. You talk about Compart 4.0. What do you mean by that?
Harald Grumser: For its first eight years, Compart was a project house that focused very strongly on OS/2 and developing individual solutions for customers. That was Compart 1.0. At the beginning of 2000, we made what was probably our most important entrepreneurial decision and transformed ourselves, with our print data converters, into a pure product house as Compart 2.0. From 2005, with internationalization and the expansion of our portfolio into the Doc-Bridge® multichannel solution product family, we were Compart 3.0. It was during that period we grew the most. Since 2015, we have been positioning ourselves as a platform for digital and transactional document-related processes. To that end, we have virtually reinvented ourselves as Compart 4.0.
3. What makes Compart stand out as a company?
Harald Grumser: We have been developing document components for almost 30 years now. That corresponds to about 800 person-years; more than 1.5M development hours. Since we have always attached importance to clean architectures and have placed little emphasis on ancillary trends, most of these classic products are still relevant and productive today. For example, our solution for fax compression, which is required for many formats such as TIFF, PDF, and AFP, dates back to 1993 and is probably the best-tested component ever. I know there are only a few providers with such a variety of technologies for document management that have this level of vertical integration in their portfolio. And it‘s also fully cloudenabled with compliance-proof development processes. Also, our customers appreciate that we don’t abandon anyone and we run a fair business. No one has to pay for defects that are Compart's fault, which unfortunately happens from time to time. That attitude doesn’t seem to be a matter of course with every company.
4. After an exciting and fulfilling working life as founder and CEO of Compart, what projects are ahead for you?
Harald Grumser: I'm chairman of the advisory board at the Böblingen/Sindelfingen Software Center, which provides about 800 jobs with more than 110 member companies. In addition, we are currently creating a business incubator called "AI Xpress" with 1.2 million Euros in funding from the Böblingen district. It‘s aimed at startups and young entrepreneurs with clever ideas in the field of artificial intelligence. I‘m also involved in various working groups in the district and am a founding member of the "Böblingen district remains colorful" initiative, which campaigns against racism and for diversity and cosmopolitanism. In addition, I‘m a sponsor and trustee of the Schatzsucher, an association that helps disadvantaged children participate in society. So my wife has no worries about having to amuse a bored retiree!
5. Dr. Köstler, you have been a member of the management board as Chief Finance Officer since 2014. Now, as CEO, where do you see Compart in 2021?
Dr. Wolfgang Köstler: Compart has been established in the market for years and has a great reputation. This is borne out by the growing number of well-known customers who are themselves market leaders in their respective industries. Our good reputation naturally creates an obligation. As Harald Grumser mentioned, we‘ve invested heavily in new products in recent years. These will now be stepped up and brought to market success in a targeted manner. We want to grow even more, especially in the product business (software licenses and subscriptions). Our strong financial position allows us to continue to invest in product development at a high level and, at the same time, expand geographically through the expansion of our sales force, not only in Europe but especially in North America. After all, our sales force and partners are already repre-sented in all major, Western markets, so we are in a good position to scale up further with new products on an international scale.
6. The world of customer communication is changing rapidly, with key words being digitization and omnichannel. What challenges does Compart face against this background?
Dr. Wolfgang Köstler: One thing is certain — the trend toward outsourcing IT processes continues to increase. Companies no longer want to operate their own data centers and are looking to the cloud, whether private or public. We show them feasible solutions because in recent years we‘ve invested heavily to make our products cloud-capable. What's more, there‘s a glaring shortage of qualified IT specialists in Germany, which we are feeling particularly acutely at our headquarters in Böblingen. We are also now competing fiercely with the major automotive manufacturers and their suppliers for bright young talent. That's why it's important to us to position ourselves even more strongly as an attractive employer.
7. Mr. Meudt, there‘s a lot of talk about developing new products at Compart, including in and with the cloud. Is the company well-equipped for the future?
Thorsten Meudt: With the transformation to Compart 4.0, as Harald Grumser calls it, we have set the right priorities and put ourselves in a good starting position for the coming years. In addition to the architecture, we will focus very strongly on further expanding our offering functionally, especially in transactional processing, digital input and output channels, and interactive workflows. Integration into and interaction with third-party systems via interfaces that are as open as possible will also play a major role. In the past and current fiscal years, we have successfully implemented demanding projects for transactional and interactive processing in customer communication with our DocBridge® Gear and DocBridge® Impress solutions. The integration of document creation in Salesforce.com at WWF Switzerland has also become a reference. Based on the experience gained so far in these pilot projects, we intend to develop robust standard compo-nents in coming years, which will be available to all customers. Of course, this also includes the further development of our DocBridge® Pilot and DocBridge® Mill Plus solutions, which have been used successfully for years and reflect our classic strengths in out-put management. We will be focusing equally on batch processing and transactional and interactive communication.
8. How futureproof are Compart's products and solutions in terms of technology?
Thorsten Meudt: With component-based architecture, we have set up a state-of-the-art technology that gives customers a very high degree of flexibility in deploying and operating solutions and components of the DocBridge® family. The microservices-based approach, which requires no client installations at all, is suitable for Any Premise, from a single server in the company's own data center to a fully orchestrated container solution at cloud service providers such as Amazon and Microsoft. At the same time, these microservices also incorporate the proven basic technology familiar from DocBridge® Mill Plus, for example. So we are confident we can take our almost 30 years of Compart into the future. That is why we see ourselves very well-positioned for the challenges ahead.
9. What do you see as the biggest tasks in your new role as Chief Technology Officer?
Thorsten Meudt: Because product management was already my responsibility, my team and I were already very involved in setting up the new architecture. It’s all the more reason for me to look forward to working even more closely with our development department. And I will continue to occasionally work hands-on with our consultants on projects in the field.