55th ‘Business Breakfast’: Creating Business Value with your IT Organisation
Transformation requires change. And the idea of ‘change’ is easier to swallow when it comes in a comfortable setting. So we also made some changes to the 55th Business Breakfast at foryouandyourcustomers. A new time. A new venue. New perspectives. And fresh, new faces eager to hear about how to create value from IT.
Instead of an early-morning breakfast, this event took place on a Thursday afternoon. And instead of breakfast treats, guests were treated to a variety of Italian-inspired bites. But changes like these seem to have been a great idea. This event had more guests than any previous one in Amsterdam.
The Business Borrel (the Dutch word for ‘informal drinks’) took place at Mondo Mediterraneo Traiteur, a charming location in the popular Czaar Peterbuurt in Amsterdam. Guests munched on mozzarella and tasty Italian sodas as they waited for the presentations to begin.
One participant said he never misses the events. ‘No matter what the topic is, I know it’s always going to be interesting,’ he said. ‘And these events are a great chance to step back and see the big picture.’ Networking opportunities were also high on the priority list. ‘At these events, we’re not competitors. We’re all just business people trying to do our best with the possibilities of technology. It helps so much to be able to share our experiences with each other. We’re all pretty much going through the same thing,’ another participant said.
Straight talk from the source
Walter Hottinga, Amsterdam’s CEO, started off the event with opening comments and then welcomed Jonathan Moeller, Founder of foryouandyourcustomers to the stage. The audience could count on Jonathan to give it to them straight: ‘How does the IT organisation create business value? Because with the right IT, companies develop faster,’ he began.
Jonathan walked participants through the Exploded View model, discussing how each layer of an organisation has a direct link – and impact – on every other. And at the heart of all of it is the IT. ‘Your IT organisation is fundamental to your organisational development,’ Jonathan explained.
But transforming the IT organisation is about much more than technology, Jonathan says. It’s also about collaboration. ‘More than 500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci drew the first sketches of the human anatomy,’ Jonathan said. ‘And because of his work, others could learn without having to explore the human body themselves. In the same way, sharing knowledge of how things work in the IT organisation helps the entire company understand why things are the way they are, and what possibilities are available throughout the entire organisation.’
Facing the challenges
Walking through the Exploded View, Jonathan explained that foryouandyourcustomers uses specific tools to help companies get a clear overview of the opportunities and challenges at each layer. Tools like Information Modelling at the Data layer, and Use Case diagrams at the Organisation layer. And while many companies use these tools to improve a single service or product, some companies use it to map their entire organisation, and all its roles, functions, capabilities and components. And that makes for some pretty large maps. Several of the event participants were seeing the Exploded View for the first time. So Jonathan wasn’t surprised when they had questions. But Jonathan reminded participants that true digital leadership and business development comes from facing and solving big challenges.
Later in the day, Walter added his thoughts: ‘When clients tell us that using the Exploded View feels complicated, we simply remind them that it really works. Often, a new client comes to us with a straightforward request, like: ‘We want to find a new customer service tool‘. The Exploded View helps them recognise the interdependent capabilities and resources that would give them far more than just a new tool – it would give them more value and better performance by exploring how to serve customers better and truly meet their needs.’
Exploring the HEMA journey
Better performance was the goal when Carsten Klomp first took a role at HEMA – a Dutch retail chain since 1926. HEMA needed a new platform for its eCommerce environment, and Carsten was brought on to make sure it happened. ‘Very quickly, I noticed that we were working in two different worlds,’ Carsten said. ‘We had the eCommerce team on one side, and the IT team on the other, with separate budgets, systems and resources.’
In order to truly bring about change within the HEMA organisation, Carsten knew he had to ask a fundamental question: ‘How can we do this better?’ Now, three and a half years later, Carsten is CIO at HEMA, with an entirely restructured IT organisation and ambitious plans for digital leadership. In his first six months as CIO, Carsten had to make tough decisions about the teams. ‘In a role like this, it’s important to be clear about where we’re going, and then to move quickly. It doesn’t help anything if you try to initiate change slowly and gently – it just takes longer. So, even though I wasn’t always the most popular guy in the room, making the tough decisions quickly helped us build momentum to fundamentally change the IT organisation.’
Carsten’s aim is to turn the IT team from purely operational to highly innovative – and to reduce dependency on external suppliers. And that means structural change. Starting with quick wins to build momentum, Carsten is now setting the foundation for a new IT organisation that is structured to create clear lines of ownership and responsibility. By 2020, he aims to have the organisation ready to increase digital maturity and deliver cost-efficient and advanced solutions. And a greater ambition to take HEMA from a local player to a successful global brand.
‘In the end, our aim is to create real end-to-end business value and enable full product ownership to rest with the business side,’ he says. ‘Our scalable, curated platform of microservices is at the disposal of every product owner, and it is up to them to develop the solutions. We’re already seeing the first successes from this approach. A simple interface on sales’ teams PDAs is helping improve the customer experience in stores. The interface was created by the product team, with the tools we provided.’
Popping the cork
Instead of a traditional Q&A session after the presentations, there was one more change in store for participants. Moving directly into the networking and interaction portion of the event, attendees sipped on wine and starting discussing topics in small groups. foryouandyourcustomers colleagues were on hand to answer questions and spark discussions, but visitors also benefited from talking to each other. And perhaps, from the wine and cocktails as well.
‘Jonathan’s vision on how to handle all this is so reassuring,’ one participant said. ‘Ten years ago, there wasn’t any talk of IT in the retail sector. Ten years from now, we won’t survive without it. Jonathan’s confidence is comforting for us, as a legacy retailer, who is still learning how to make the most of all of this.’
Transitioning from a Breakfast to a Borrel was a very good change, indeed. The lively conversation and rapid fire questions continued long after the official close of the event. But with the pasta steaming and the wine flowing, there was no shortage of interesting insights to explore.
CIO AT HEMA
Since summer 2018, Carsten Klomp has been CIO at HEMA, where he started more than 3.5 years ago as Manager Online Development. In his current role, he is responsible for the digital transformation of HEMA. Carsten designs and implements an omni-channel strategy and an Agile working method. Recently he opened an innovation lab at HEMA where employees can try out new technologies using prototypes. During his master in Human Centred Multimedia at the UvA, Carsten started his own web development company in 2004. Between 2006 and 2015, he worked at full-service agency Emakina (formerly Relephant), where he guided several Dutch brands towards a digital future.
FOUNDER OF FORYOUANDYOURCUSTOMERS
Jonathan has been an entrepreneur for 28 years. After founding eight companies with several hundred employees, it is no exaggeration to call him an expert in Digitalisation and Contemporary Business Management. He is the author of the book ‘Multichannel Guidelines‘, created several tools and developed the ‘Exploded View‘ model. Together with his wife and their three children they live in Melbourne, Australia and Zurich, Switzerland.