The Silicon Review
Sustainability is proving to be much harder than companies anticipated. Here’s a solution.
iPoint-systems gmbh develops software and provides services for environmental and social product compliance, and sustainability. iPoint’s solutions enable automated and secure exchange of relevant information across the entire value chain and product life cycle – from product concept through production and the use phase to recycling and reuse. In particular, iPoint’s software and services support companies in meeting and staying one step ahead of voluntary goals and targets, mandatory regulations, and requirements, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), REACH, RoHS, WEEE, ELV, Conflict Minerals- and Modern Slavery-related laws, as well as other emerging developments in the compliance and sustainability arena.
iPoint-systems was incorporated in 2001 and is headquartered in Reutlingen, Germany. It has more than 150 employees at 15 locations around the globe, with a clientele of tens of thousands of companies from various industries, including automotive, electronics, aerospace, mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, medical devices, and apparel.
iPoint-systems’ recent awards include:
- Participant of ‘Scaling Circular Business 2018’ Project of the European Commission. iPoint and 12 other European organizations were selected out of hundreds of other applications
- Verdantix ‘EH&S Innovation Award’ with Emerson
- Top 100® ‘Top Innovator 2017’
- Business Newspaper Handelsblatt: CEO Joerg Walden among Germany’s ‘100 Smartest Innovators’
- Top 100® ‘Top Innovator of the Year’
- Verdantix ‘Smart Innovators Badge for Product Stewardship Solutions’
- IPC ‘Distinguished Service Committee Award’ for contributions to the development of the Conflict Minerals Data Exchange Standard IPC-1755
- Gartner ‘Sample Vendor’ in the areas ‘Sustainable Sourcing and Procurement’ and ‘Life Cycle Assessment’
- Gartner ‘Cool Vendor in Sustainability’
- Top 100® ‘Top Innovator of the Year’
Joerg Walden, iPoint-systems gmbh CEO/Founder, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Rewind: Talking Flight
iPoint’s four founders had the idea of creating an information system for customers on the basis of the Oracle technology iFS (Internet File System) that meets the entirely new requirements for the exchange of information between OEMs and suppliers, emerging as a result of the Internet hype. We regarded this as an opportunity to establish an intelligent knowledge management system that re-merges different data sources and permits everybody to obtain an individual view of their information. In terms of information management, we envisaged a process-oriented departmental approach, which was unusual at that time. The term ‘CPI’ – Central Point of Information – emerged in this context. This was also to be expressed by the name ‘iPoint’ as a single point of integration, a point of establishing, managing, and integrating connections, a point where various sources are merged to something new. And based on this idea we founded iPoint in 2001. Our company history so fare includes four phases:
1. The Early Years: Automotive and Compliance Agent
In the early years, the automotive industry was iPoint’s main focus. The first solution was the ‘Automotive Agent’ – a standalone tool that monitors websites, extracts data, and integrates them into internal systems. The Automotive Agent was very successful from the start. After just six months the first few employees were hired, and within the very first year, iPoint was able to increase revenue by 173 percent. In less than five years, iPoint became the market leader in web portal integration with the Automotive Agent.
The year 2003 marked the first customer installation of the ELV/IMDS solution ‘iPoint iMDS’. Here iPoint also managed to become market leader in less than five years, this time for IMDS in-house solutions for automotive suppliers. In the following years, iPoint continuously developed and enhanced this solution, today known as ‘Compliance Agent’. For example, further functional aspects like sustainability and environmental protection were implemented, leading to an impressive customer base within a short amount of time. In 2007, iPoint was able to perform the first installation of the iPoint Compliance Agent for a major automotive OEM. In less than five years iPoint became the market leader in the automotive industry with this IMDS / RRR solution.
2. Crisis as an Opportunity: 2008-2011
The global economy crisis in 2008/2009 brought many customer projects to a halt. Needless to say that iPoint felt the impact. Subsequently, two decisive measures were instigated: Firstly, tapping into further industry sectors, and secondly, expanding the product portfolio by acquiring the KERP Center of Excellence Electronics and Environment (today operating under the name of ‘iPoint-Austria’), in order to become the first provider of a comprehensive platform for compliance and sustainability.
2009 also brought us a prestigious award: We were honored as one of Germany’s 50 Customer Champions, an award recognizing companies which inspire and delight customers and demonstrate excellent customer relationship management. This approach, which continues to be a vital part of iPoint’s strategy, is backed by results from our regularly conducted Customer Satisfaction Surveys, which reveal that the majority of our customers believe that collaboration with iPoint is backed by high levels of trust.
3. Sustainable Expansion: 2012 ff.
iPoint’s journey from an automotive-focused integration expert to a cross-industry compliance and sustainability partner also manifests itself in other awards the company received over the years. Thereby, pioneer spirit and innovational strength – along with sustainability, integration, and agility the core elements of the brand iPoint today – have played a vital role in the company from the start.
In 2012, iPoint reached an important milestone with a new solution to support companies’ social sustainability efforts: the iPoint Conflict Minerals Platform (iPCMP). Launched in September 2012 in cooperation with the AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group), 47,000 companies from more than 100 countries are using this solution today to meet legal requirements in the area of Conflict Minerals compliance. With this solution, iPoint achieved a market-leading position in less than three years. In view of the ever-evolving regulations focusing on human trafficking and slavery in global supply chains, we also expanded our portfolio in the area of social compliance, and launched a new tool, ‘eLRT’ (electronic Labor Rights Template), in November 2016.
Since 2012, iPoint has been developing SustainHub, a universal compliance and sustainability platform – first as part of a research project funded by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme, since 2015 as a Cloud solution now used by over 45,000 companies worldwide. Depending on their requirements, companies can select different applications, for example: the Conflict Minerals app for collecting, aggregating and reporting Conflict Minerals-related data across the entire supply chain, or the Material Compliance app for managing data concerning substance-related regulations.
In recent years, iPoint has continued the expansion of the iPoint Group and its solutions portfolio to realize its vision of building an integrated digital platform for the Circular Economy. For example, in 2017, iPoint integrated the ifu Institute for Environmental IT Hamburg, an industry leader in Life Cycle Assessment and Material Flow Cost Accounting, and co-founded iPoint BiS in Stuttgart, a provider of EHS & Sustainability solutions. In 2018, iPoint co-founded CircularTree, a Berlin- and Melbourne-based startup aimed at leveraging Blockchain technology to make the world a better, more sustainable place by supporting companies to achieve sustainable and highly efficient supply chains and product life cycles.
Future Arrangements: Sky’s the Limit
Placing sustainability at the forefront of everything that we do, we at iPoint are driven by the question of how today’s solutions can contribute to securing a sustainable world for future generations. Our vision: We want to be the best in implementing product sustainability. We want to be the company best known for supporting our customers on their journey to sustainability.
iPoint does not only support and accompany other organizations on their way to sustainability. We also strive to embed sustainability into our own corporate strategy, organizational culture, and everyday operations. Applying principles of responsible management, supporting and respecting the protection of human rights, upholding employee rights, as well as implementing environmental protection, are therefore integral elements of iPoint’s corporate strategy, policies, and procedures.
Joerg Walden: A Brief Background
Joerg Waldenis the CEO and founder of iPoint-systems. 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.
Mr. Walden holds a civil engineering degree in automation from Reutlingen University.