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DTA Talks: the future is now!

8 July 2020

“Test and adapt. Sometimes it turns out well and sometimes there is room for improvement”. Even for the big players, who are thé digital transformers of our country, it doesn’t always run smoothly. “That’s simply the way it goes. Stop the process, learn from it and move on to something else”. During the first edition of DTA Talks on Wednesday 24th June, the past five winners of the Digital Transfomer Awards shared their insights on digital transformation in the current day and age. How have they fared recently, how is it going now and how do they see the future?

On Wednesday 24th June the first edition of DTA Talks: “The Winners edition” took place, broadcast live from the rooftop terrace of Amsterdam’s REM island (Newpeople’s platform). This was an online talkshow with Jim Stolze as its host and featuring the winners of the past five years: Robert van Geffen (Global Head of Digital Marketing & E-Commerce Philips), Anouk Beeren (Director Crosschanel Intergamma), Gerhard van der Bijl (Senior Vice President IT Albert Heijn), Hans Böhm (Managing Director Heineken the Netherlands) and Paskal van Lomm (Director Duxxie).

Working from home is here to stay but it will be organised differently

There is one thing that everyone can agree on: the future is now and the situation will never return to what it used to be. This is a conclusion that Henk Volberda, DTA judge and researcher, who took a digital seat at the table for the first couple of minutes, also reached. He is currently working on the Dutch Innovation Monitor 2020. This monitor indicates how innovative companies are. The Coronavirus pandemic has triggered a boost in Dutch companies’ rate of digital transformation. Currently, more than 1000 respondents are participating in the research. 67% of all companies indicate that working from home is something that will remain in place but it will be organised differently. Apart from that, 60% indicate that they see the digital transformation accelerating and that the development of new business models is in full swing. The research is still very much going on and the full report will be shared in autumn.

Accelerated digital transformation

Currently, the focus is on accelerating activities related to digital transformation. No one can avoid it. People were forced to work from home. It was thought that this would be a difficult process, however, Hans Böhm’s colleagues at Heineken indicated that they felt more connected than ever before. This was partially due to the daily stand-ups which were indispensable in every organisation. This was also the case at Intergamma. At the start, only one department did daily stand-ups, but from the lockdown onwards they spread through the company like an oil spill. Of course the social aspect cannot be replaced by an online meeting. “Having a beer together with the same great atmosphere as usual is not possible online.” For that, you will continue to need a place where people can come together.

The acceleration of digital transformation, or even just achieving digital transformation more generally speaking, is easier for some than others. Some had only a blank slate to go off, like start-up Duxxie, whereas others had existing processes already in place. Some have a certain target group that needs more attention when it comes to digitalisation, whereas others need to place greater emphasis on the processes involved and to look at how you can establish an omni-channel strategy next to an already existing shopping process. Digital transformation comes in all shapes and sizes. Every organisation moves at its own pace, but failing to move is not an option.

Agile perspective

As is the case for any change, it’s important for the target group as well as the company’s own people to have a central position. Philips’ Robert van Geffen indicates that you mostly have to try out different forms. “Test and adapt. Sometimes it turns out well and sometimes there is room for improvement”. That’s simply the way it goes. Stop the process, learn from it and move on to something else”. According to Gerhard van der Bijl, at Albert Heijn, giving the team a central position as well as making the organisation smarter, are also priorities. Apart from that, the customer is always the most important. Stakeholders are often involved in what the organisation does. The way in which this is done doesn’t have to be ‘pixel perfect’. Especially in these times, it’s fine for the organisation to show its more human side. From that, more flexibility has originated.

Questions from viewers

During the DTA Talks several questions were asked by viewers. How is a creative process organised online? Which tools are used? How have you involved the IT organisation in the digital transformation? And, digitalisation often comes coupled with meaningful added value from data: data science and AI. Arriving at a Proof of Concept and starting with AI is often much more complex. Are there examples of cases where AI has been used and has actually created business value? These are just a few examples of the many questions that were explored by the digital transformers. Curious what the answers were and want to get inspired? Watch the recording:


About Digital Transformer Awards

Digital Tranformers Awards places digital talent in the Netherlands in the limelight and supports companies’ digital development by offering inspiration, insights and opportunities for development, in an innovative way. Because of the digital revolution companies are forced to redefine their very essence. Digital Transformers Awards is an initiative by Newpeople Executive SearchCognizantLdJ Tech PRMirabeau, a Cognizant Digital Business.


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