Adapting to digital business models
Digital leaders are supposed to lead the adaptation of their organisation to new, digital business models. Many new challenges emerge on this journey. How to adapt your organisational model to best serve the digital transition? Which new competencies do you need to attract in order to prepare for the digital future? Which new forms of collaboration do you develop with your internal and external ecosystem?
To exchange ideas and experiences on this topic, over 50 digital leaders gathered at the CIONET Belgium event ‘Digital Business Models. Which competencies and organisation do you need?’, which was held in Vilvoorde on May 16th.
IT governance challenges
Prof. Dr Steven De Haes, University of Antwerp, shared the conclusions of his recent ‘Board level IT governance’ research project, which examined why in most organisations non-executive board members are not involved in technology decision making, and why they should.
Empirical studies demonstrate that more board-level engagement leads to more organisational performance. “However, often IT is considered as something operational or companies simply rely on the CIO as they don’t have sufficient expertise themselves”, explained De Haes. “Often board members have a legal or financial background. To tackle this, boards should ensure that they have a balanced team capable of also addressing the digital challenges, next to the many other topics on their agenda. This requires the presence in the board of experts or multidisciplined directors, who understand the governance challenges around IT and digital. Obviously, the board should not look at the technical details of IT but give direction and provide oversight. The real discussion should be about IT-enabled business transformation and business risks.”
“Boards need to extend their governance accountability from a mono-focus on finance and legal to including technology and providing organisational capabilities to ensure that IT sustains and extends the company’s strategies and objectives”, concluded De Haes.
Finding a new balance
Xavier Bourgois, CIO and Senior Vice President IT of Barco, explained how to find a new balance by turning a technology company into an XaaS innovation enterprise. Barco is a hardware and software manufacturer of display and projection technology, collaboration connectivity and image processing.
“We live in a deflationary macroeconomic environment characterised by globalisation and shorter technology cycles. Growth is slower as we are no longer in a traditional replacement market. Today, customers demand outcomes and will only pay for what they get. That is why tech companies have to rethink who they are and evolve from being a technology vendor to delivering outcomes, using the right mix of hardware software and services. In order to create an ‘outcome-based proposition’, they have to understand the outcomes customers desire and innovate technologies and business models”, Bourgois explained.
Barco tackles these challenges with the XaaS (Everything as a Service) concept. Examples in other industries, such as Car as a Service making use of intelligent car sharing, Scan as a Service in the healthcare sector or shared workspace services show the way to go. The XaaS model is simple to use, customers only pay for the results, and they can turn the service on or off at any moment.
“But this transition to finding a new balance requires hard choices about the role and size of the IT department”, he warned.
No data, no glory
Philip Taillieu is co-CEO of Be-Mobile, a world leader in smart mobility, providing a wide array of solutions through its integrated mobility platform. The company offers solutions such as Connected Vehicle Platforms, Traffic Management, Smart Parking, Mobility Payments Platform, Mobility as a Service, etc.
No data, no glory… The platform offers a unique combination of infrastructure intelligence, user intelligence and personal messaging. The mobility database integrates data from sensors in traffic lights, cameras, radars, etc.; crowdsourced data from drivers, social media, police and emergency services, parking payments, etc.; other data from public transport, car and bike sharing, filling stations, toll services, etc.; and floating car data from GPS systems, smartphones, telcos, etc.
Today, Be-Mobile provides the data coverage of more than 10 million European vehicles. How did they deal with this rapid growth? Taillieu explained: “We did this by having a clear strategic vision, investing in new breeds of people while trying to keep early champions on board, and gradually bringing governance and structure in the company. Moreover, the company was split into business units, allowing each of them to focus on their own specific offering. Finally, as things change rapidly, open communication lines have proven to be necessary.”
Data, the new oil
Gert Vanhaecht, CIO Belfius Insurance and Head of IT Digital and CRM Belfius Bank, stated that Belfius goes for 100% digital with all analogue banking services having a digital extension on web pages or mobile apps. In 2016 the ‘Belfius Mobile First Digital Bank and Insurance Program’ has won the Belgian ‘ICT Project of the Year’ award in the Large Organisations category. This project was set up to transform Belfius from a traditional bank to a digital and ‘mobile first’ bank.
“The project focuses on creating a real-time based personalised customer experience with a zero-touch approach – no paper and no human intervention – enabled by data and data analytics”, explained Vanhaecht. “In the past we used to aim at target groups of customers of whom we assumed they would be interested in our offering. But that approach was far from precise. The new normal stands for a real-time and personalised offering for which data is the new oil. A real-time decision engine decides which data to use and which experience to create at any specific moment in time. To achieve this, several technologies are being integrated, e.g. OCR, document signing technology, fingerprint recognition, etc. And, whenever a new innovation has proven to be useful we add it to our apps.”
Vanhaecht stressed the importance of a strong partnership and alignment with the business partners. “Business and IT should collaborate as one team.” Also a strong collaboration with other concerned departments, e.g. legal, is necessary. “The combination of skills through collaboration is more important than just technology”, he concluded.
Digital transformation in sports
Bert Van der Auwera, Head of Digital Transformation, Contract Management, etc. at football club RSC Anderlecht, explained that in the past several club departments created their own digital solutions. This resulted in silos and knowledge gaps. The SAP Business One tool, for example, was implemented by the Finance department. Other departments only used it for the creation of PO numbers. “The new stadium development project was the perfect opportunity to bring people together. Through the centralisation of knowledge and data, we expanded the financial tool with quick, scalable wins”, Van der Auwera said. “We created, for example, a warehousing system for sports equipment. By scanning article numbers directly in or out the SAP system we obtained valuable data for a better support of e-commerce.”
“In a next step, we identified a number of core activities and responsible persons, and set up clear procedures including KPIs, budgets and security. We also made people accountable for identifying and closing the knowledge gaps within their own line of responsibilities.”
“Today we pay special attention to connecting with our fans, sponsors, players and other peers. We bring them the best possible story based on good data, with maximum convenience to enjoy it anywhere and anytime. By learning to use new digital possibilities, maximising knowledge and centralising data, we are building the best possible digital story.”