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What has the digital transformation got to do with EOS? Is it simply a hype that will soon pass? Klaus Engberding and Justus Hecking-Veltman explain how the EOS Group is preparing for the demands of an increasingly digital and networked society.

Everyone is talking about digitalisation. Is that just the latest management buzzword or something we should take seriously?

Justus Hecking-Veltman: Digitalisation, a term on everyone’s lips, is currently heavily hyped. In this case, rightly so. We must come to realise that the digitalisation of society will not come to a standstill. On the contrary, this dramatic process turns everything upside down as did the invention of the printing press, the discovery of electricity and the spread of the Internet. In this respect, digitalisation is without a doubt a subject of special significance to us. We feel the revolution throughout the economy. It is important that we actively shape this development process. To do so, we need to change our way of working.

But things are going so well for EOS, are they not?

Klaus Engberding: This appears to be the case, but we are under extremely high pressure from our competitors, not least because of the low interest rate policy and cheap money. Many investors from outside our industry are infiltrating our territory. They are willing to pay immensely high prices for portfolios. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get contracts for receivables packages at reasonable purchase prices. A clear result of this is the drop in margins. Productivity has to increase. So sustainability is the ultimate form of competitiveness.

The will to change:
CFO Justus Hecking-Veltman (left) who is also responsible for IT, and Klaus Engberding, Member of the Board of Directors and responsible for the German market

What specifically does digitalisation have to do with debt collection?

Mr Engberding: You could argue that digitalisation affects, in particular, three aspects of our work: how we operate with clients and consumers, which solutions we can offer and even how we work together at EOS. In Germany, we are currently developing new debt collection software, which meets the requirements of a digitised society.

Can you tell us a bit more about that? What will debt collection be like in the future?

Mr Engberding: In the future, we will work individually with consumers and the work will be predominantly data-driven. Our new core system will analyse existing data that we generate in contact with the debtor. We will learn from them and use the results to control the processes intelligently. This should enable us to reach the defaulting payer better at the right moment, with the right approach and through the appropriate channel.

Mr Hecking-Veltman: We are prepared to invest up to 100 million euros in digital transformation and technology. Here, it is important that we develop our system for data-driven work ourselves. This is because we don’t want to just satisfy legal requirements but also to maintain our self-imposed ethical values and ensure all EOS subsidiaries abide by our Code of Conduct.

What do your clients think about your plans for the future?

Mr Hecking-Veltman: We are fortunate that our clients trust us. As a keyword, the subject to mention is data protection, which is one of our most valuable assets. Our clients know that we are able to provide maximum security, but of course they also expect that we continuously improve our productivity and strive to achieve the best results for them. In addition, as we are developing our new core system completely in-house, we can adjust it to the specific needs of our clients.

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As for the future, your task is not to foresee, but to enable it.
ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY (1900–1944), the author was a passionate pilot, fascinated by modern technology. Among other things, he was one of the first air mail flyers on the Toulouse-Dakar route.

What cultural changes within the EOS Group will the digital transformation bring about?

Mr Engberding: A lot will change in our cooperative efforts. Collaborative project work is an important part of this, as is the willingness to assume responsibility. In connection with digitalisation, we hear ‘agile working’ again and again. I understand this to mean an increase in speed through personal responsibility within the team. This of course only works if I have complete trust and if employees are willing to assume this responsibility. We have a good team of people with whom we can succeed.

Is the digitalisation a purely German theme?

Mr Hecking-Veltman: Most certainly not. We are represented in 28 countries as the EOS Group and offer services in more than 180 countries through an international network of subsidiaries and partner companies. In some specific projects, we are intensifying our international cooperation. Currently, we are developing the new debt collection software in Germany. We keep in mind that our subsidiaries abroad can benefit from this. We are planning to transfer the findings from the application of new technology to other countries.