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At Novozymes, enzymes and microbes are supplemented with data

With Mikael A. Ludvigsen, CIO & VP, Novozymes

Digital ambitions are high at Novozymes. Optimization, automation, and digitalization are employed to develop new services that support biological solutions reducing the use of chemicals.

At Novozymes, the "Better business with biology" strategy guides all decisions – including those concerning IT. CIO Mikael A. Ludvigsen and his colleagues are responsible for contributing to the business strategy through a collaboration that focuses on optimization, automation, and digitalization of the company.

Essentially, Novozymes has two departments that work towards the same goals, but at different paces and with different agendas.

Collaboration makes all the difference
The "classic" IT area drives global operational aspects such as stability, performance, and security, while 'Digital Transformation' focuses on bringing new data-driven services to market quickly.

– We fight for the same cause and we have the same strategy, sharing our portfolios and priorities, Mikael A. Ludvigsen says of the IT and digital transformation goals that Novozymes has set for itself.

His task is not only to support day-to-day operations, but also to augment the value proposition that has made Novozymes a world leader in its field.

– Experience clearly shows that we now get the best of both worlds, simply because each department has the opportunity to focus on a slightly narrower portfolio of tasks, while working towards the same goal, he says of the cooperation between the two areas.

The process of creating a digital transformation is so fundamental that the entire company needs to be involved. And that makes the collaboration between the two departments particularly crucial.

Novozymes(UK)

Transition or transformation?
While the digital transformation is high on the agenda in Novozymes, Mikael A. Ludvigsen makes no secret of the fact that this can be somewhat arbitrary:

– We have struggled to grasp digital transformation in the right way. Because where do you draw the line between transition and transformation? To us, the difference seems to be that digital transition is the ongoing digital development of internal operations and processes, which we evaluate and optimize, and steadily guide in a more digital direction. Conversely, we talk about digital transformation when we develop new, digital services and business models that we want to use to engage customers – e.g. using data.

Data and cloud join forces
And data, in particular, is a recurring theme for Novozymes:

– Of course, everyone is interested in data. Right now, we are experiencing that data is shifting from being a supporting product to being the focal point of many things – especially in new services, where we can use data to extract more value from our core products, Mikael A. Ludvigsen explains.

Among other things, Novozymes is exploring the development of digital products that add further value for customers.

This development is enabled by the fact that far more data has been moved into the cloud, where it is more easily accessible:

– Where previously, some employees spent perhaps 80 percent of their time on the actual data collection, they can now spend the same amount of time analyzing the data that others have intelligently put together. This means that we gain many more insights and causal connections that we can continue to develop further.

Digital teams and innovative culture
Innovative business prospects rarely spring from the field of IT itself, however, but rather from many different levels in the organization. Mikael A. Ludvigsen describes a culture where innovation is brewing, with room for growth, and where people are expected to take their ideas and run with them:

– Only when an idea has been allowed to mature a bit, do we tie everything together and assign them to defined projects.

Projects are typically realized in digital teams, which consist of both IT and Line of Business – and if the initiative in question is a market-oriented one, the sales organization acts as a driving force. This is increasingly done using agile methods, which may have originally been championed by Novozymes-IT, but meanwhile are gaining a foothold among employees who do not typically work in an agile way. The digital mindset is firmly rooted in the organization, not least because, thanks to a new CEO at the helm, Novozymes has completed a number of reorganizations and established several new digital teams.

Interdisciplinary cyber-attack training
In addition to digitalization, cybersecurity is one of the hot topics on the Novozymes CIO's table. Management backs him up fully, however, and this means that the area has been strengthened with resources and investments.

Novozymes started with a comprehensive, external 360-degree safety assessment, which formed the basis for the plans that have since been implemented. And then they increased the amount of training considerably, says Mikael A. Ludvigsen:

– We have prepared, and not just with theoretical exercises, but in the concrete environments where we would need to work our way back from an attack. It is important that the training does not occur in the IT area alone, but rather includes interdisciplinary participation from production units, HR, and communications, among others. That way, everyone knows what to do – and we won’t find ourselves doing it for the first time during an actual attack.

To secure operations and open lines, Novozymes also established an out-of-band solution outside its normal network. And they set up an SMS service, allowing them to reach all 7,000 users globally via SMS if the IT systems are down.

Digital facts about Novozymes

  • Outside Novozymes-IT, the organization has established several digital marketing teams and an independent department responsible for digital transformation. This department does not work with operations and security, but instead keeps the ball rolling on agile transformation projects.
  • To supplement the skilled in-house team, Novozymes collaborates with innovative start-ups concerning both innovation and new technologies for which the group does not have the required skillsets in-house.


Mikael A. Ludvigsen's top tips for the well-prepared CIO

  1. Focus and prioritize your projects. The agenda is growing constantly and nothing is ever taken off it. It is impossible to execute everything successfully simultaneously. Keep value in mind: When is something valuable? And for whom?

  2. Assign roles and responsibilities for new projects from the beginning. Remember that a new product must not only be conceived, but also developed, operated, and updated – and someone must be responsible for each phase.

  3. Before investing in new projects, it’s a good idea to put old ones to bed. Otherwise, your technological debt will be huge.