Steering beyer’s Fit For The Future Strategy Dynamically

German audio solutions major beyerdynamic, with a view to driving the company’s business stronger and more focused into the future, has recently initiated a series of measures that have significant bearing on the brand. One of those moves was the appointment of Robert Winterhoff as Managing Director for Global Sales & Marketing.

Bringing along with him, over 20 years of thorough industry exposure – the last being with the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India & China) bloc – Winterhoff forms beyerdynamic’s top- management, together with the company’s long standing Managing Director Wolfgang Luckhardt.

Understandably, choosing India as his first overseas assignment in the new role, the high-profile executive was in Bengaluru recently, though preceded by his industry interactions in Delhi and Mumbai. SI Asia caught up with Winterhoff, to know more about his plans for beyer… Excerpts:

SI Asia: Congratulations on your coming onboard beyerdynamic- to the highest hot seat. Upfront, what does it mean to you- professionally, and personally?
WINTERHOFF: Thank you for the compliments. Working on an organization’s global footprint has always given me a lot of satisfaction. Being able to leverage my experiences managing business overseas particularly here in Asia paired with our excellent growth opportunities excites me.

SI Asia: What does it mean to beyerdynamic?
WINTERHOFF: I love what I do, and beyerdynamic will benefit from it. I will bring leadership and energy to lift the company to the next level.

SI Asia: Your coming onboard beyer itself is said to be part of the ‘Fit for the Future’ strategy. What exactly does it mean to the company and the market?
WINTERHOFF: The execution of the strategy essentially means getting closer to the consumer and the partners. We will focus on both- regional growth and expansion of our current product portfolio. The strategy aims at helping the company gauge the future market needs, unlock the potential of new markets and develop product-solutions that meet the customer needs by getting even closer to the community. The ‘Fit for the Future strategy,’ therefore, can be taken as meaning sustainable growth.

SI Asia: Having taken the hot high seat, what is your immediate priority?
WINTERHOFF: I‘ll need to understand beyerdynamic environment, customers and partners. What works and what doesn’t “culturally,” and what needs to be fine-tuned. I will form strategic partnerships, using ethical practices, and work on profitability business. My obvious focus first will be to build a global international sales organization and make our product/solution portfolio more attractive for the customers.

SI Asia: beyer has also recently restructured its business focus and units. What is the vision and purpose of the initiative? How does it benefit the company’s cause?
WINTERHOFF: As I mentioned before when we talked about the ‘Fit for Future’ strategy, one of our goals is to get closer to the customer. And that’s one of the most important reasons why we decided for the two new business units. We restructured the organization to have the chance to work more focused on different target groups, and we bundled competencies in the teams by doing that.

SI Asia: beyerdynamic has been one of the best known audio innovators. What do you think is the most impactful innovation thus far?
WINTERHOFF: If I understand “thus far” as the timeline since the time the company has been in existence it is definitely the invention of dynamic headphones for series production which came with our first headphone DT 48. As you know this is still our business today and the outcome of this first innovation led to several others, and to microphones and conference systems. In recent times, we perfected the dynamic headphones. For example, the Tesla Technology is one of our younger innovations that we are proud of, but which is still based on the dynamic principle.

SI Asia: While conferencing system solutions are one of beyer’s strengths, we do not hear much about the Tour Guide Systems- your take on this?
WINTERHOFF: You will. I am very confident that we will have a marketing campaign by the 3rd quarter of 2016 in your part of the world to give you access to these exciting products.

SI Asia: The visit to India is your first overseas trip after taking the global sales & mktg reigns at beyerdynamic. What made you prefer it that way?
WINTERHOFF: This was a very conscious decision. In my view paired with my previous experience in the region, India has for beyerdynamic fantastic growth opportunities. In my previous stint, I was responsible for the BRIC – Brazil, Russia, India and China – markets, and India at the moment appears more rapidly growing than the rest in the bloc. The country has so much to ask for in terms of potential government business, academia, and others. On the other hand, our growth areas are close to regional growth areas which I think we haven’t captured yet enough, which is exactly why I made India as my first overseas assignment in my new role.

SI Asia: With your thorough exposure to the BRIC markets, how would you compare India against the rest of the bloc in terms of strengths, and weaknesses?
WINTERHOFF: Let me focus on the strengths – India is on the forefront of information technology advancement from the region, and that stands the country a huge advantage. We, beyerdynamic, as a German audio engineering company, are investing with our local office in Bangalore to participate in the country ́s march of progress. That we see no weaknesses as in earlier years, and infrastructure situation is very much improved, we see the country presenting exciting opportunities for growth.

SI Asia: One of the challenges in the region is said to be counterfeit products. Does beyer suffer from the challenge?
WINTERHOFF: We are very much aware of the problem. However, we are very fortunate that it is not a problem for us at the moment.

SI Asia: beyer does have competition from major players. What makes the brand stand out from the competition?
WINTERHOFF: beyerdynamic drives on values. We have kept our authenticity since 1924 through outstanding sound performance, pioneering spirit, innovative strength, premium quality made in Germany and more than 90 years of brand success. A huge amount of passion is put into each of our products for nearly one century. Audio expertise of many generations of engineers and users run into our products. In summary – We are the Generation Audio.

SI Asia: Would please elaborate on beyer’s Agenda 2024? What all does it intend to bring to ‘brand beyer’?
WINTERHOFF: Agenda 2024 is our internal project which is known to the outside world as our “Fit for the Future” strategy. As already stated our intention is get closer to the customer and leverage our technological advantage in the defined market segments. Generically said, Agenda 2024 is a performance timeline when the company completes 100 years of existence in audio business, and celebrates its centenary.

SI Asia: What does it have for the APAC region in particular?
WINTERHOFF: We are going to increase our global footprint in the first step. We will orientate our sales offices throughout the region to reinforce our sales and marketing activities.

SI Asia: How do you view the audio industry in APAC vis-à-vis other regions of the world- in terms of adopting technology?
WINTERHOFF: APAC region has made amazing progress over the recent years adopting state of the art technologies compared to other parts of the world. That’s one of reasons we will focus in the APAC region and in particular on development of beyerdynamic India infrastructure. To reflect this vibrant market we will hold some of the new product launch first in the region.

*This article was originally published in Systems Integration Asia Feb–Mar 2016