Dentsply Sirona CEO Simon Campion explains company changes

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Since the start of his tenure in September 2022, Dentsply Sirona President and CEO Simon Campion has focused on making operational changes and refocusing the dental giant’s clinical education offering and R & D programme. (Image: Dentsply Sirona)
Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

Wed. 3. July 2024


Nearly 1,200 dentists from 50 countries attended the second Dentsply Sirona (DS) World held in Dubai earlier this year. The event showcased the “ultimate experience in digital dentistry” and a refocused dental company that has changed the way it executes its strategy under the fresh leadership of President and CEO Simon Campion. Dental Tribune International spoke with Campion in Dubai about the operational changes that have taken place at the company, its renewed focus on innovation and clinical education initiatives, and how it aims to remain competitive in meeting the evolving needs of dental professionals.

Mr Campion, since joining Dentsply Sirona in September 2022, you have focused on operational changes and a new operating model to drive growth and transformation in the company. Can you elaborate on the most significant operational changes implemented so far and how they align with your vision for Dentsply Sirona’s future?
Improving the efficiency of the organisation is a clear focus for us, and we are managing that through our operating model. That is the discipline that we have brought to the organisation, and it allows us to see all the factors that are important to us as a company and to our customers. It is not just financial performance that the operating model tracks, but also, for example, the number of dental professionals trained and the number of educational events we have had—it is the entire organisation.

Another change is related to the important areas of R & D and innovation. We have become far more disciplined about how we look at R & D and its predictability, particularly in the area of digital dentistry. We believe digital dentistry is the key to the future, and that has driven our product development and launches over the past 18 months. DS Core, in particular, is going to be a cornerstone of dentistry of the future. We launched DS Core in May 2022 and since the launch we released numerous value-adding features, workflows and services for our users. For example, we launched the communication canvas and the SureSmile Simulator in September last year. We have planned a road map of launches related to DS Core for the coming years. All our equipment will be connected with DS Core and the software is going to be central to the practice of dentistry in the future. All of our clinical workflows will be powered by DS Core, and the flexibility and efficiency that it will offer dentists and dental practices, regardless of how they are connected or structured operationally, will be significant. So, we will continue to invest heavily in R & D and in digital dentistry in particular.

A third area that we have doubled down on regarding investments is clinical education. We have expanded our clinical education footprint through the launch of a new digital channel, DS Academy Campus, and we have expanded our DS World events. Last year, we held the first DS World Italy and this year, we will hold the first DS World events in Tokyo and in Sao Paulo. We also held a number of implant symposiums over the past year—one in Athens, Greece and another in Warsaw, Poland—and the 2024 Implant Solutions World Summit in Miami in June.

In a 2023 interview, you mentioned a focus on “a healthy innovation pipeline” and “a winning customer experience”. Could you share some insights on recent innovations Dentsply Sirona has developed and how these are enhancing the customer experience, especially in the context of digital dentistry?
In addition to DS Core, we launched Primescan Connect in September 2022. Scanners are central to the future of digital dentistry, and we know that our scanner is extremely competitive in the marketplace. Coupled with DS Core, it unlocks added value for our customers, irrespective of how and where they practise dentistry. In Dubai, for example, we have launched the X-Smart Pro+, our new endo motor, and I think readers will have heard how well this endodontic motor is performing in the marketplace. We have also launched the Lucitone Digital Print Denture System for in-house denture manufacturing in combination with our Primeprint Solution.

Although I can not share details, rest assured that 2024 will hold further meaningful launches for Dentsply Sirona. We spend more than 4% of our revenue, which is approximately US$170 million per year, on R & D, and a lot of that goes into the digital space and the software space, in particular. That won’t be changing. In fact, we are aiming to be more efficient with how we spend our R & D dollars so that we can unlock even more value for our customers.

“[Rest] assured that 2024 will hold further meaningful launches for Dentsply Sirona.” 

To be clear, will these investments in R & D be seen across all product areas and specialties?
We have been and want to continue to be a leader in digital, but as you rightly pointed out, we have a very broad portfolio with R & D needs. The way we meet these needs is by ensuring that we deploy our resources in the most efficient way, assessing whether projects are predictable in terms of when they are going to come to market and whether they have the potential to satisfy key needs of customers. We then prioritise those needs in order to truly make a difference for clinicians and their patients.

In this regard, we have enhanced our customer proximity and centricity. One of the ways that we have done this is through surveys that help us understand how our products are regarded in the marketplace. Just recently, we surveyed 2,000 dentists in the US, Germany and China to assess whether we have any product gaps. The overwhelming response from all three geographies was that we had no meaningful gaps in our portfolio. Whether it is preventive, restorative, endodontic, aligners, implant or digital dentistry, we are seen as having extremely competitive implant solutions and extremely competitive essential dental solutions. That means we can tailor our R & D work to focus on those areas where we see opportunities. Also, we hired Kevin Boyle as senior vice president and chief technology officer, and he brings a wealth of experience in driving innovation in a disciplined and predictable yet exciting way.

Left to right: Dentsply Sirona CEO Simon Campion, Vice President Public Relations and Corporate Communications Marion Par-Weixlberger, and Senior Corporate Communications Manager Anna Bruns; and Dental Tribune International Chief Marketing Officer Lars Hoffman and CEO Torsten Oemus. (Image: Dentsply Sirona)

What can you tell us about implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in the portfolio and Dentsply Sirona’s position on AI technology?
Your question is well timed: recently I was at our facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, where our AI group is located. We did a complete review of our AI funnel, and I am very excited by what I saw. The topic of AI has been part of R & D for quite some time, for example, we introduced AI last year through our SureSmile Simulator. AI will be extremely important in the future for digital dentistry, assisting dentists to make faster decisions and providing supportive tools to assist them in validating or invalidating their initial hypotheses.

Moving forward, AI is going to be integral to DS Core; in fact, it already is, and its roll will continue to expand in our equipment and software.

Since you started as CEO at Dentsply Sirona, what have been the biggest challenges and successes, and how do you see this evolving in the future?
As for many companies, the COVID-19 period was challenging and then our company underwent leadership transitions. So, the first thing we embarked upon was trying to stabilise the organisation by communicating very clear messages to the team and establishing a robust foundation for what we wanted to achieve. Those efforts have manifested in the form of very clear strategies around innovation, operations, quality, clinical education and investments and in concrete terms regarding what “good” looks like according to external and internal expectations. These were the foundational pieces. I think the most exciting thing for us all is the position our portfolio puts us in—having an end-to-end portfolio with very high-quality products and a robust pipeline of what is to come. Our future is in our own control.

So, the changes have been mainly internal, getting back to the strengths of the portfolio and getting the message out properly, but have there been any specific strategic changes?
The strategic change has been the investment that we are making in clinical education. I think we had not done enough of that historically. We have put our money where our mouth is in the past 12 months, making the significant investment in holding two additional DS World events and developing great online clinical education that is available to more people globally.

With the launch of the DS Academy Campus, clinical education becomes more like a global initiative, a platform that is accessible to every dental professional around the world in their local language and at low cost. Is that your goal, the democratisation of clinical education?
The word “democratisation” is a very appropriate. The new campus gives dental professionals around the world access to a range of live and on-demand courses on topics across the spectrum of specialties and on general topics in dentistry, including diagnostics and treatment planning, implants and endodontics, but also key topics such as how dentists can drive sustainability in their own practices.

During the first quarter of this year, we are expanding the DS Academy offering by more than 20 courses in aligners and restorative dentistry, and we will continue to expand our offering throughout 2024. This does not represent a pivot on our part, as we see online training as complementary to in-person training. Our online training offerings can help to equip our customers to make the most of in-person training and to prepare them for more advanced training in the peer-to-peer space.

You have a great range of speakers in all areas of dentistry, and you have chosen to move to your own event series. Does this mean that you will cut back on larger traditional dental events and concentrate on your own localised events?
Our strategy is to do both. DS World is obviously our flagship event, whether it is in Las Vegas, Madrid, Italy, Dubai, Tokyo or Sao Paulo. I think that the importance of the event and the quality of the training that we provide are reflected in the number of people who attend. We had nearly 5,000 dental professionals in Las Vegas, 1,000 guests in Madrid, and over 1,200 here in Dubai. We will be expecting similar numbers in the Asia Pacific region. It is a big investment from the company. Are we backing away from other events? The answer in general is no. We participated in a very meaningful way at last year’s International Dental Show in Cologne, and we will participate once again in March next year. We are not backing away from the traditional ways in which we show up in front of our customers. The combination of capability, offering and reach are an opportunity for us to complement those traditional events with our own.

“The objective of training in dentistry should be to make it more accessible and more understandable for anyone who participates.” 

And through the DS Academy Campus, you are now able to bring this message to areas where there are no in-person events?
Online means there are virtually no boundaries. Content can be tailored to local languages, and I think that AI is going to help tremendously in that area. I think we really should make it easy. The objective of products in dentistry is to make clinicians’ lives easier. The objective of training in dentistry should be to make it more accessible and more understandable for anyone who participates. If that means going online in local languages, then we need to address those opportunities.

Like we saw in Dubai, Dentsply Sirona also likes to bring in local speakers, not just international ones.
I think it is important to hear from peers in the community, and I think it is also a yardstick by which we can measure our success as a provider of world-class training to local clinicians. These opportunities also support local key opinion leaders in their efforts to become strong voices within the international dental community.

What is your message to clinicians about Dentsply Sirona?
I believe the offering we have is unparalleled in the dental world. We have an opportunity to empower clinicians to provide world-class dental care, not only because we have no meaningful product gaps but also because we can support them through our online and in-person clinical education. We want to be your partner in providing the best care for your patients, regardless of where in the world you practise.

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