Proximus One Q3 2018 EN

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digital business magazine October 2018

ADVANCED WORKPLACE New technologies create an agile working environment

PLATFORM ECONOMY Play a role in impenetrable markets

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DATA ANALYTICS The benefits for society, city and business

The future of work

Imagination Return on

Everyone wants more data, but I have to set a limit, no?

Transparent mobile data usage Enough mobile data to surf enables your employees to combine their work and private lives together. And with the right tools, you can keep total control over the costs.

With our mobile data solutions, you’ll be ready for tomorrow.

Working in the digital world starts at


Do you

already have a truly digital


Scan this page and allow Bart Van Den Meersche to welcome you to One.

igitization is changing the way we work. Thanks to the cloud and smartphones, we are no longer bound to a fixed office. We have access to data and applications and we’re in contact with colleagues on the road, at home and when we’re with customers, as well.


Nevertheless, the physical office is still important. Even in the digital age, we need a physical space where we can meet with colleagues, customers, suppliers and business partners. But even here, we use technology to provide optimal support for this cooperation. The heart of the matter is that the digital workplace offers the best of both worlds, to achieve the best results both face-to-face and virtually. The availability of data and applications ensures that staff are more productive and efficient. And, of course, the impact is greatest when the digital workplace is fully incorporated into the company’s HR policy. We at Proximus now have a great deal of experience in digital transformation. We have modernized our physical workplaces, all the digital tools and company applications have been updated and we have designed an ebook that you can download free of charge at­­We are happy to share with our customers the expertise we have built up. And with this magazine, too, we offer you the inspiration you need.

Happy reading.


Chief Enterprise Market Officer - Proximus


Stan: the robot that

parks your car

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Scan this page and meet Stan, the first automated parking robot.

o disrupt the parking experience: that’s the aim of French company Stanley Robotics, founded in 2015. To do that, they developed Stan, the first robot that can park cars autonomously. The idea behind it is simple: you arrive at a parking lot and leave your car in a specially designated place, a sort of garage. Stan, who looks a bit like a forklift truck, comes and fetches the car and parks it in the ideal parking space. You don't have to look for a space yourself, nor do you have to walk from your parked car, which means you save a lot of time. Stan parks passengers’ cars at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris­ and at Lyon-Saint-Exupéry Airport. Since the robot is in use at these (outdoor) parking lots, twice as many cars can be parked there. Stan can park the cars closer together, while also taking into account the passengers’ departure and arrival dates.


Parking robot Stan: – Stan can transport any type of vehicle up to 6 meters long and weighing up to 3 tons. – Thanks to various sensors, Stan can move entirely autonomously. – By means of artificial intelligence, the space in the car park can be optimized. – Outdoor technology ensures that Stan can keep going in good and bad weather.


Vision & insights

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Location-based analytics provide insight into the behavior of people and establish an objective basis for strategic decisions.

Steven Van Hoorebeke, CEO of SD Worx Group, on how companies should respond to the imagination economy.


By 2030, intuitive and creative thinking will be central to creating economic value. Scan the cover of this magazine with the VEEEW app and bring it to life.


How Barco manages to provide a creative, inspiring workplace for its staff.


The cities of Aalst and Dendermonde are improving security and marketing via mobile data


International examples show the social benefits of data analytics


Imagination is central in the creative economy


Eleven jobs that are becoming (more) important

24 TECHNOLOGY CALLS FOR AGILITY Impact on people and organizations


Proximus HR breaks traditional patterns


Whether every consumer will join the AI revolution with confidence depends on how you can convey the added value it provides.

26 HOW TO STIMULATE CREATIVE THINKING Tips for people who are cognitively lazy


Meetings anytime, anywhere


IT in Romania, datacenters in Belgium

36 THE SUCCESS OF THE CHATBOT Chatbots bring AI closer to the client

42 THE PLATFORM ECONOMY Creating values in digital times


“Just as in the early days of the internet, blockchain is the start of a completely new transactional platform.” Frank Verhaest, Program Manager Innovation & Blockchain at Isabel Group

44 TRENDS IN THE PLATFORM ECONOMY Where will business be in 2020 and 2021? The predictions.


Hospital puts mobility first in the transformation process


Different generations, the same behavior A publication of Proximus public limited company of Belgian Public Law Year 12 / Number 33 / Q4 2018 Publisher: Bart Van Den Meersche, Koning Albert II-laan 27, 1030 Brussels Coordination: Charline Briot, Erik Hendrix, Robbin Sacré en Jean-Marie Stas Contributors: Andrew Beavis, Wes L Cockx, Jean-François Dinant, Robert Doran, Isabelle Latour, Frederic Petitjean, Dries Van Damme, Frank Van den Branden, Klaas Verplancke, Michel Verpoorten and Filip Van Loock. Concept and realization: For more information, contact: Version française: afin d'obtenir un exemplaire de ce magazine en français, surfez sur Nederlandse versie: om een exemplaar van dit magazine in het Nederlands te ontvangen, surf naar The technical specifications are indicative only. Proximus reserves the right to make changes without prior notification. For more information, contact: Robbin Sacré, Haven’t got the contact details of your Proximus account manager close by? Go to



HEAT? Where is the

Using mobile data to see how your visitors or customers behave can give you an advantage in achieving your business goals. And above all, it ensures that you can gear your decisions and your strategy to your target groups with 100% objectivity and effectiveness.

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ith location-based analytics, you can detect in real time which people are in a specific spot,” explains Luc Cogneau, data analytics expert at Proximus. “You know which city or neighborhood they come from and what their profile is. Thanks to correlation with data from Statistics Belgium, the General Directorate for Statistics at the Federal Public Service of the Economy, you also gain access to functional data such as their social class and income level.”


How are these data collected? Luc Cogneau: “We collect these data from Proximus users’ SIM cards, each time a mobile connection is made with a GSM tower. Thanks to the address of the tower, we know the location. By going back three months and looking to see where the SIM card is between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am, we also know the probable home address of the owner. By means of extrapolation, we know the data of everyone who lives in Belgium, accurate to 90%.” What about our privacy? Cogneau: “Personal data is protected and never released. The reports that customers receive contain anonymous data on groups of more than 30 people at a time. Via the ­P roximus MyAnalytics portal, where customers can log in, we only report on groups of over 50 people. Data on groups of fewer than 30 people are not reported. In addition, the databases are heavily protected against hackers. Internally, only a few members of staff have access to them. Every data retrieval procedure is logged and screened.”

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Data analysis is now undertaken in real time. When will we be moving on to predictive analysis? Cogneau: “Real-time data will be available commercially in the fourth quarter of 2018. Various universities have already been conducting experiments on predictive analysis, such as on sales, etc., for several years. During the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the ULB did experiments with Facebook data and mobile data and they were able to determine about 30 minutes in advance how many people would be in a particular place. Also, spending behavior is currently being tested in a city in Flanders, but that’s still in its infancy. What technology is needed for location-based analytics to evolve further? Cogneau: “Because not everyone activates and uses Wi-Fi, at the moment SIM cards are the best technology for location-based analytics. The only

LUC COGNEAU studied informatics and telecommunications and is an ITIL v3-expert. He worked for Telindus in Eastern Europe, Russia, North Africa and the US, selling communications equipment. Since 2013, he has been with Proximus as a specialist in the analysis of mobile data.

step we can take, which we are already taking now, is combining more and more data sources. The future lies with artificial intelligence and machine-learning as part of that. It is the solution to predict people’s behavior. But that, too, is still in its infancy.” What impact do location data have on customers? Cogneau: “Location data are ideal for improving the customer experience and increasing customer commitment. You see where people are going and you link that, for instance, with their social class and income bracket. At a chocolate maker’s, we noticed that 80% of his customers had a specific profile. On the basis of that, we were able to suggest locations for new stores. And if you can see which cities or neighborhoods your visitors or customers live in, you can attract them with targeted marketing. For example, you can determine which stores you should open around industrial estates. The possibilities are endless.” What is the biggest advantage of location data? Cogneau: “On the basis of a market share among mobile users, we can supply totally objective information. With location-based analytics, location measurements have evolved from prehistoric clicking systems to high-tech analyses at a stroke. The information is there.” Which sectors do you think get most use out of location data? Cogneau: “Cities and local councils are already interested in acquiring location data. They want to improve the organization of their events, their security and their mobility. The Brussels Region and the provinces of Walloon Brabant and Liège have contracts running to record mobility behavior using mobile data in their region:

DATA A N A LY T I C S _ C I T Y O F A A L S T I M P R O V E S S E C U R I T Y _ 1 1


from where to where do people travel? Cities are boosting their local economy by seeing which people shop in which shopping streets. The retail sector and the transport sector can only benefit from location data, too.” Location-based analytics needs new profiles. What does the future look like? Cogneau: “We have 1.5 billion records coming in every day. And that figure is set to grow. To analyze this huge quantity of data, data miners are essential. They search out relationships within these big data. Top profiles in the field are bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer sciences. There is already a shortage of data miners. And because everyone is working with big data, this shortage will only increase.”

Crowd control During carnival time, the city of Aalst records the density and movement of the crowds to ensure a dynamic approach to physical security. Ultimately, the mayor aims to use these location services during major events as a structural element of security coordination.


Starting location-based analytics 1. Formulate clear goals for your project and be aware that location-based analytics is not an exact science. You see trends that show you why people go to a particular place. 2. It’s best if the questions you ask are as concrete as possible. If your questions are too general, the quantity of data that has to be analyzed will increase. 3. It's important to build up a history. One measurement only gives you a limited picture (how many people are there at a given event and where do they come from?). With consistent data, you gain an insight into the behavior of visitors or customers and you can take targeted action.

Mayor Christoph D’Haese and GIS coordinator Joris Verbeken.

he Carnival of Aalst is included on the UNESCO world heritage list. During a three-day period, hundreds of thousands of visitors stream into the city center. This is a very special event, with a lot of masked and costumed visitors, in an atmosphere that is often very exuberant. “We put a lot of effort into security,” says mayor Christoph D'Haese. “An event of this size requires a clear approach to crowd management, a watertight intervention plan and proper control and distribution of the police, both day and night.”


The first challenge is to obtain a practical view of the scope and movement of the crowds. The city has to ensure that the police and

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> 100,000





The annual number of visitors to the carnivel of Aalst

380 police officers are on duty for 4,400 hours

laptop stations in the crisis room for real-time security follow-up

video wall for camera monitoring, a mast and a screen for helicopter image reception

Mobile projection screens and separate TV screens for media monitoring with videoconferencing facilities

emergency services are in the right place at the right time. Therefore, during the last carnival, Aalst set up a project with Proximus Event Analytics. Joris Verbeken, GIS coordinator of the city of Aalst: “Using geolocation on mobile phones, we gain insights into the number of visitors in a certain place at a certain time, and into how these visitors are moving through the city. Of course, everything is anonymous.” Targeted deployment of police and emergency services Analyzing the data gives the city information that can be used to adjust the logistic support provided during events. 1. V iew of total visitor numbers. 2. Combination of total visitor numbers and a detailed trend over time to see, for every hour, how many visitors are actually in the festival zone. 3. D istinction between local visitors and visitors from outside Aalst. 4. V isitors’ length of stay.

CHRISTOPH D’HAESE studied law at KU Leuven. After a career at the bar of Dendermonde, in 2006 he moved into municipal politics. Since 2013, he has been the N-VA mayor of Aalst.

Multidisciplinary “The actual analysis is a fairly technical element,” says D'Haese. “The figures need to be converted into concrete, usable information.” The mayor wants to see a more multidisciplinary approach “so that the figures can be read not only by analysts, but also by those who are actually involved in the working and control of the police and emergency services.”


“ B Y C O U N T I N G

- With a population of over 85,000, Aalst is the second-largest city in East Flanders, after Ghent.


- Aalst lies on the Dender River and is famous as a carnival city.



These figures are available for the festival zone, but also for the entire area within the Aalst ring road. In practical terms, as a result the city of Aalst can make better choices about whether a greater or smaller police presence is needed in a particular zone – and during a particular period. This fits within the city's broader security policy. “We have a commando post for the security and emergency services,” D'Haese explains. “Insight into the density and the routes followed by visitors fits within this broader framework.” However, the process with Proximus Event Analytics is just the first step. “With this first report, we conduct an analysis after the event, which enables us to adjust certain things. But, of course, a real-time analysis would have far more impact because then we could intervene during the event, as well.”

E F F I C I E N T LY.” Christoph D'Haese, Mayor of Aalst

DATA A N A LY T I C S _ C I T Y O F D E N D E R M O N D E I M P R O V E S M A R K E T I N G _ 1 3

Parade and the Boulevart openair ­festival. “Information about the visitors to the events enables us to measure the results of our marketing efforts in concrete terms,” says Buyse. “We now know how many visitors there were and which regions they came from.”


Mayor Piet Buyse and Patrick Segers, Head of Tourism and City Promotion.

Golden campaigns Over a two-year period, Dendermonde is recording visitors to public events via location-based analytics. The results of these analyses help the city to organize its marketing and crowd control more efficiently.

“ T H E R E S U L T S C L E A R LY S H O W THAT W E AR E REACHING THE R I GHT TARG ET GROUPS WITH OUR C A M PA I G N S.” Patrick Segers, Head of Tourism & City Promotion service

n Dendermonde, digitalization is an essential element of the city's policy plan. “We are following a number of paths,” says Mayor Piet Buyse. “Among other things, this involves the smart city concept, whereby we aim to make optimal use of digital services, for both staff at the municipal authorities and for citizens and companies.” A second path is that of smart data: the city acquires new insights by analyzing big data. “In Proximus Analytics, we found a solution to gain a better idea of the number of people attending large-scale events and where they come from,” says Patrick Segers, Head of the Tourism & City Promotion service.


Recording visitors Last year, Dendermonde called on Proximus Analytics for various events, including the Christmas market, the Katuit Giants

MAYOR PIET BUYSE graduated with a degree in history. He began his career in education but soon switched to politics. He has been the CD&V mayor of Dendermonde since 2007.

DENDERMONDE FULFILLS AN IMPORTANT REGIONAL FUNCTION, PARTLY BECAUSE OF ITS COURT AND ITS REGIONAL HOSPITAL. - Dendermonde lies at the confluence of the Dender and the Scheldt rivers. - The city has more than 45,000 inhabitants.

Valuable information This information is of great value for the city’s tourism service. “The results clearly show that we are reaching the right target groups with our campaigns,” Segers explains. “The figures confirm our gut feeling.” And at least equally importantly, these figures provide a basis for new policy choices. “For instance, we could opt for targeted promotion in other regions, after which we can measure the effect of the campaign via Proximus Analytics.” In that respect, it would also be especially interesting for the city to link the data on where visitors come from to anonymous information about their socio-economic background. “In terms of marketing the city, that would be a particularly powerful instrument,” says Segers. Future vision of the city Mayor Buyse: “Tourism around the Flemish coastal cities is gradually reaching its limits.” The ­Scheldeland region presents itself as a worthy alternative, with its culture and nature. “But to be able to carry out targeted promotion, of course you first have to map out the existing situation – and then keep taking repeated, targeted measurements. That’s what we’re doing now.” The Proximus Analytics project also goes along with the preparations being made by the police and emergency services for the Ros Beiaardommegang in 2020. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to this event, which is held once every 10 years.

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questions that can be answered via mobile telephony datasets 1. What is the composition of the population in a given area at a given time? What distinction can we make between the local population and people from outside that geographic area? 2. How do people move through a given geographic area? How long do they stay somewhere and where do they go afterwards? 3. What changes in time and space are we seeing, for instance with regard to urbanization, the limitation of built-up areas, traffic infrastructure, etc.? What is the optimal size of certain spatial units? 4. What similarities and differences are there in terms of mobility between those who work and those who don’t? 5. What is the situation regarding commuter traffic on weekdays and what is the impact of factors such as the weather, accidents, events, etc.? 6. What is the situation in Europe regarding cross-border commuter traffic, labor migration, international tourism, etc.? Measurements from foreign mobile devices are used for this, including roaming data and data from foreign operators.


Privacy and data use are major causes of concern these days. The three cases on the next page show that as well as serving commercial purposes, data from mobile locations can be used for the social good. Technologies and investments enable research that benefits society. GSMA, an umbrella organization of mobile network operators worldwide, of which Proximus is a member, aims to help NGOs and organizations prevent epidemics, natural disasters and pollution by means of a ‘big data for social good’ program.

Scan this page and surf on the website of GSMA for more informations.

DATA A N A LY T I C S _ I N T E R N AT I O N A L E X A M P L E S _ 1 5


NAMIBIA Predicting the spread of a malaria epidemic The movement flows of millions of people in Namibia were charted for a year using mobile telephony data. The current residence of the user can be deduced from these data. These data were combined with other information to predict how a malaria epidemic would spread. In African countries, mobile location data is a valuable source, as in many cases, few other data sources are available. The data are also more accessible there, because privacy regulations are less strict.

Source: Malaria Journal

PARIS Measuring the impact of lockdowns after attacks Proximus used location-based analytics to analyze the impact of the lockdown in Brussels after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015. Fewer people made the journey to and from Brussels, while there was more traffic towards other central cities. Source: Proximus

HAITI Tracing mass displacements after earthquake In 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake, followed by a nationwide cholera epidemic. People moved away from the affected areas in huge numbers, with the risk of yet more death due to the disease. With the help of mobile data via SIM cards from Haiti's biggest operator, the movements of these people were analyzed so as to be able to offer the right help. The daily position of SIM cards was followed for 42 days before and 158 days after the earthquake. To exclude non-active SIM cards, only 1.9 million SIM cards were taken into account; the ones that made at least one call, both before the earthquake and in the final month of the analysis. In Port-au-Prince, a ratio of 3.2 people per SIM card was used to extrapolate the number of people who moved from the number of SIM cards that moved. It was estimated that 630,000 people (on the basis of 197,484 SIM cards) who were in Port-au-Prince on the day of the earthquake, had moved away 19 days later (approximately 20%). Source: PLOS

SÃO PAULO Charting air pollution In São Paulo, Brazil, air pollution causes chronic diseases and consequently the premature death of thousands of people a year. Telecoms operator Telefônica Brasil ­designed machine-learning based algorithms that combine data from the mobile network with data relating to the weather, traffic and sensors that measure air quality. As a result, traffic patterns and air pollution can be charted more cost-effectively and decision-makers obtain crucial information to channel transport in certain areas of the city. Source: GSMA


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18 _ In the age of imagination, knowledge is no longer power. 19 _ We are looking for: M/F with talent for 11 new jobs in 2025. 20 _ “In Belgium you are either an employee or you are selfemployed. There’s nothing in between. But there is more flexibility in the Netherlands.” Steven Van Hoorebeke, CEO at SD Worx Group 24 _ “The reason why work is

meaningful. That is what it's really about in the future.” Gary A. Bolles, expert in the future of work at Singularity University

25 _ “Who knows, in 20 years’ time our current jobs may well be gone.” Jan Van Acoleyen, Chief HR Officer at Proximus 26 _ “The average person is cognitively lazy. We need to stimulate creative thinking.” Michaël Van Damme, Experimental Psychologist



Please don’t ask an eight-year-old what he wants to be when he grows up. Two-thirds of primary school children will have a job in 2030 that doesn’t even exist yet. Automation is taking over tasks where you and I can no longer offer any added value. In just five years from now, people will be making a difference through creativity and imagination.

Imagination Return on


Knowledge is no longer power CONTEXT

Two-thirds of today’s jobs will no longer exist in 2030. That’s what the World Economic Forum is saying. It’s all about the arrival of new technology, which is automating traditional, repetitive tasks at lightning speed. s technology takes over boring, repetitive jobs, we have no choice but to be creative. Because with imagination, people make the difference. We can see that clearly already in digital platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, which rely entirely on the creativity of users. Virtual reality, too, combines technology and human imagination.


Outsourcing rational thinking We are standing on the brink of a new age: the age of the creative economy or the economy of the imagination. In this economy, intuitive and creative thinking generates economic value. We outsource logical, rational thought processes. For that, we rely on automation.


According to research carried out by McKinsey, data collection, data processing and predictable physical work are first in line for automation. The tasks that are most difficult to pass on to technology involve taking decisions, planning, human interaction and creative work. In these areas, people still beat machines. We deduce that from the growing demand for inventors, designers and developers of all sorts of products and services.


Power of imagination To survive in the creative economy, new skills are a must. Knowledge is no longer power. Creativity is. Imagination and creativity are not merely innate talents. They are skills that can be learned and stimulated. Of course, in the creative economy there will be more jobs than just designers or editors. Entrepreneurs, scientists, managers, accountants or IT specialists will need to be creative, too. Therefore, it is important to pay sufficient attention to this in education and training courses today. Honing creativity needs to be high on the agenda, just as in the past – in the knowledge economy – the acquisition of knowledge was a prime objective. Thanks to imagination and creativity, we will soon be interpreting our jobs, our economic activity, differently. The power of imagination also lies in the fact that it allows us to come up with a vision of the future – and put it into practice. “Logic takes you from a to b.” said Einstein, “but imagination takes you everywhere.” Now more than ever, this idea is front of mind in the age of imagination and the creative economy.

T H E F U T U R E O F W O R K _ VA C A N C I E S I N 2 0 2 5_ 1 9

We are looking for a (M/F) The digital transformation and new technologies are changing the job market. An overview of 11 jobs that will become more important in the future.

1. VR-coach

A virtual team in a virtual office calls for a specialized coach: M/F, of flesh and blood, to direct staff in virtual reality.

2. Drone manager

3. Project manager

7. Digital locksmith

As a ‘drone manager’ you see to the planning and performance of flights as regards logistics, scientific research, film production, etc.

Project-based work is replacing fixed jobs from the recent past. More and more project managers coordinate the whole thing and act as the link between freelancers.

11 HOT JOBS IN 2025

4. Technology philosopher

5. Cryptofinancial adviser

6. Medical mentor

The lucky few whose CV includes IT security and financial management skills will be able to manage cryptocurrency portfolios for private individuals and companies as cryptofinancial advisers.

Code red! An app indicates that your blood pressure is too high. The sensor beeps and you are warned, but fortunately, in 2025, you can rely on a medical mentor for the right interpretation and support when monitoring your health.

8. Home automation technician

9. Personal productivity coach

10. Digital teachers

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other new technologies are having a major impact on people and society. Technology philosophers study the ethics of using certain technologies.

Do you call your electrician when you are no longer able to switch off your lights via your voice command system? Home automation and the IoT are part of the standard equipment of a home. It’s good to have the number of a home automation technician who connects and secures all devices.

Automation takes away all repetitive tasks. With the jobs that are left, people make the difference. But technology is increasingly providing diversion, led by social media. Personal productivity coaches ensure the vital focus.

Rapid technological progress constantly requires new, targeted skills among the working population. Coaching sessions, training courses, tutorials, webinars, etc. are taking place more and more online.

Digitalization has reached locksmith, too. When the technology behind the digital lock fails, the digital locksmith frees people from their predicament, mainly their car and their own home.

11. 3D-printing designers

Hamburgers, the latest shoes or prostheses: 3D-printing designers are prized in virtually every industry. It goes further than just spare parts for machines. What size do you have?

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Belgium needs more

flexibility VISION

By 2030, individuals will organize their work differently. How should companies and organizations respond to this? Steven Van Hoorebeke, CEO at SD Worx Group, on the impact of the creative economy on HR.

“ I do not belong to the doomsayers who argue that many jobs are disappearing because of automation.” STEVEN VAN HOOREBEKE, CEO at SD Worx Group

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SD WORX offers worldwide services in the areas of payroll, HR, legal support, training, automation, consultancy and outsourcing. SD Worx has 4,150 employees in 10 countries. The head office is in Antwerp.

’m not one of the doomsayers who believe that a great amount of jobs will disappear,” says Steven Van Hoorebeke, CEO of SD Worx Group. “It’s not the low- or highskilled jobs that are most at risk, but those somewhere in between. We have robotic process automation (RPA) projects running in Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Smart computer software is taking over a number of boring, repetitive tasks. That does not mean that the people who, until recently, were doing these jobs will no longer be needed, but that they will have more time for other tasks. Our payroll consult-


ants, for instance, are increasingly taking on an advisory role.”

Self-directed project teams

What type of jobs do you think will gain the upper hand? Van Hoorebeke: “Jobs that make the difference. Here creativity, proactive and critical reflection, cooperation and sales insight are important. For a major retailer, for instance, we are drawing up a three-year plan to predict permanent and temporary recruitment. This means that the warehouse managers will soon be able to work more accurately and the company will cut costs substantially.”

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Need for flexibility

Further to your Manager of the Year award, you said in Trends that people no longer want to work in the traditional way. What do you mean by that? Van Hoorebeke: “There are various forms of the new way of working. It’s about working independently in terms of time and place, but also working on a project basis, with considerable autonomy. We have been spreading this new way of working for some time now. Our staff can work at home or at different office locations, but that is not obligatory. In addition, the various offices are granted a great deal of autonomy and people work as part of self-directed project teams. For instance, there are offices where everyone works part time but they, themselves, have decided that they will all go to the office on Tuesday afternoons.” Can you give us a few more examples? Van Hoorebeke: “I’m thinking, among other things, of home nursing, where a couple of successful experiments are running with self-directed teams. Niko, the light switch manufacturer, works with self-directed teams, too. It’s a principle that can be applied in many sectors.”


Studied computer sciences at KU Leuven and electrical engineering at Ghent University. He has been CEO at SD Worx Group since 2013. In the past few years, he has brought strong growth to the company, focusing on globalization, digitalization and a customer-centric approach.

In the Netherlands they have been implementing projectbased work for some time now. What about Belgium? Are we ready for this? Van Hoorebeke: “We can’t escape the fact that in Belgium, we need more flexibility. Our employment regulations are far more strict than in the Netherlands. In Belgium either you are an employee or you are self-employed. There’s nothing in between. There is more flexibility in the Netherlands, for instance with the status of self-employed workers without staff. Belgium is one of the European countries with a stricter framework. These flexibility issues fall within the scope of action of the National Labor Council. I hope they bear in mind the global movements in this area.” What impact does new technology have on recruitment? Van Hoorebeke: “I believe in the combination of people and technology. In theory, we can already automate the entire process – from recruitment to contract. But I don’t think it’s helpful to do that entirely. You can automate certain facets, such as screening CVs or analyzing a video interview using artificial intelligence (AI).”

“ In Belgium either you are an employee or you are self-employed. There’s nothing in between. In the Netherlands there are more options.”

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A new framework

Coaching staff who work more and more on a freelance basis is a lot more difficult than with permanent staff. How should business leaders best deal with this? Van Hoorebeke: “M anagers have to be able to act flexibly. That’s the biggest challenge. They have to dare to let go. They can no longer control what everyone is doing. It’s all about the results that staff produce. How they work is not really that relevant anymore.” How can companies create an umbrella culture and togetherness with a workforce that may consist mainly of freelancers? Van Hoorebeke: “We need to think in much broader terms. It’s about more than just these freelancers. It's about having the different generations in the workplace work together in a streamlined way. The needs of a 20-year-old, a 40-year-old and 60-year old differ. It’s important to deal with these different needs in the right way, for example by incorporating enough flexibility into the salary package, among other things.” McKinsey and other consultancy firms agree that creativity and imagination will play a decisive role in economic value creation in the future. But how should we reward that creative work? Van Hoorebeke: “I believe in introducing a framework in which the company stimulates creativity. The salary is important, of course, but so are appreciation and self-development. That’s why, at SD Worx, we have an innovation lab where staff can launch ideas. A self-directed team looks at every initiative and allocates a budget. The manage-


ment is involved only when the initiative is ready for production. This approach leads to enthusiasm and pride among staff.”

Building up international experience

Staff expectations today differ from 10 years ago, for example with regard to project work and working from home. How do you deal with this at SD Worx? Van Hoorebeke: “In addition to working independently in terms of place and time, and the input of self-directed project teams, we have started an initiative to let people build experience at our offices in different countries. I’m very much in favor of this. It’s enriching to get to know other cultures this way and so, from time to time, exchanges take place. When we organize a major event, for instance, it’s done with a team that consists of staff from head office and from the offices in other countries.” If automation is shortly to take over repetitive jobs without any human intervention, the importance of business outsourcing is bound to increase. How does a company like SD Worx respond to this? Van Hoorebeke: “Companies are increasingly leaving specialized tasks to their HR partner. We have a division that can take over the entire salary calculation process. We help companies to convert to the new way of working; we help with their wage policy or conduct data analyses, so that the HR manager can adopt a more strategic policy. Companies outsource jobs like this in order to focus more on their core activities.”

How do you see jobs evolving? ANNEMIE DEPUYDT ICTS Directorate at KU Leuven, ICT Woman of the Year 2016.

“In the past few years, we have seen huge progress in artificial intelligence and robotics which is having a big impact on jobs today. And there’s no end in sight. Jobs will disappear, of course, but many jobs will change radically, instead. Staff will be supported by digital assistants. In this context, lifelong learning will become very important. And that, in turn, creates new jobs.”

LAURENCE SCHUURMAN Manager at Capgemini, Young ICT Lady of the Year 2018.

“While companies continue the fight for talent, employees are also crossing swords for jobs that meet their changing requirements. There is a growing desire among employees for more flexible jobs that can be adapted to their personal lifestyle. More and more, a feeling of freedom, the chance to make a difference and have responsibility within the company are conditions that jobs have to meet. An attractive salary and the possibility to work your way up are no longer sufficient. Popular jobs are ones with interesting content and a new way of working. They will be brimming with the latest technologies and be supplemented by strategic thinking and communication skills that involve keeping employees motivated, too, so as to meet customers’ expectations.”

2 4 _ T H E F U T U R E O F W O R K _ S T R A T E G Y_ I M PA C T O N T H E I N D I V I D U A L A N D T H E O R G A N I Z AT I O N

Agility offers the best outcome “New technology grows exponentially,” says Gary A. Bolles, future of work specialist at the Singularity University think tank in Silicon Valley. “Disciplines like machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics only strengthen one another and speed things up.”

What strategy should we follow?

To put it simply, work is an economic transaction: you receive money because you perform a task with a certain skill which resolves a problem. In practice, a job consists of a set of tasks that you tackle with a set of skills. “Automation focuses on one specific skill in this set,” says Bolles. “Tasks disappear from the package, but others come along.” That’s the biggest challenge: we have to adjust our existing talents and, at the same time, develop a completely new set of skills. “This phenomenon is not really new. When the switch from agriculture to industry occurred, there was suddenly a surplus of people with agricultural skills and a shortage of industrial skills.” A similar phenomenon is occurring today.

How should we tackle this?

“ Those who find an opportunity for themselves and are successful in their jobs also contribute to the economy in general.” GARY A. BOLLES, future of work specialist at the Singularity University think tank

When the way we work changes, that has an impact at every level: on the individual, on companies, communities and countries. At every level, business agility offers the best starting point.

1. As individuals - Due to the exponential impact of new technologies on work, the question, for every employee, is whether there will be meaningful and sufficient paid work in the future. As an individual, you have to develop skills that are linked to new technologies. Everyone needs to be good with technology. - E very employee must train to be sufficiently agile and to adopt an agile attitude. - I t ’s impor ta nt to develop self-knowledge about your own skills and take a critical look at what you like doing. It will come down to acquiring the right new skills throughout your career. - Employees have to embrace entrepreneurial thinking and seek opportunities in their work themselves. Look for problems that customers could come up against. A person sees a problem and devises a solution to it. That’s the difference compared with a robot. Those who find an opportunity for themselves and are successful in their jobs also contribute to the economy in general.

2. As a company - Agility is at the top of the list of priorities for organizations, too. It is best to choose a strategy for your company that basically focuses on constant change. - O ffering different contexts for people to work in makes you more competitive. - Investing in training and coaching to give staff the right skills at the right time will be essential. - It’s best to keep an eye on technological developments and regularly review how technology can support your business. - Companies should establish an extensive network so as to build ecosystems. - The reason why work is meaningful expands to include the issue of what the future is really about. As a company, too, you keep on assessing the purpose of your business.

3. As a community - Education and training systems must and will change constantly to keep up. - Ideas on new ways of working have to be supported by the community. - Industries are being reshaped and directed at cooperation and partnerships.

4. As a country - The agility of the government will help determine a country’s position in the world in terms of work and the labor market. - I nvesting in mobility, flexible work and innovation is essential. - The policy and the regulations on new ways of working must be closely followed and open to adaptation where necessary.


“ Sixty-five percent of today’s jobs to disappear by 2030? That’s a fairly cautious estimate,” in the view of Jan Van Acoleyen, Chief HR Officer at Proximus. “All jobs are changing. Who knows, in 20 years’ time, our current jobs may well be very different or gone altogether.”

ur labor market will change not only due to the impact of technology, but also because society is changing,” Jan Van Acoleyen states. That is precisely why it is important, as an employee, to be open and receptive to this evolution. Digitalization calls for candidate profiles that were not needed in the past, such as in the context of security or the changes in the privacy laws. “At the same time, a wide debate is taking place,” says Van Acoleyen. “Data are central to this. After all, these data are the basis of the new solutions and services. That calls for new skills in data architecture, data analysis, etc.”


Adapt skills The importance of digital interaction is increasing in the digital world. “Companies establish a digital relationship with the consumer,” says Van Acoleyen. “The digital aspect pervades everything. Including field service technicians, or think, for instance, of areas like security or privacy laws.” Specific skills are needed for this, which employees need to hone constantly throughout their careers. “We’re doing the same thing at Proximus, too. As an employer, we see it as our responsibility to invest in these new skills along with our staff.” In practical terms, Proximus is focusing on areas such as security, data analytics and digital marketing. The Proximus Corporate University now offers various intensive courses. Some of these involve staff following a training course one day a week for a fairly long period. “We look at what


skills we will need in five or ten years’ time and build courses around that. We do that, among other things, with so-called learning deals, where experts train one another. The future calls for more than just digital skills. Digitalization itself means that the difference can be made partly through talents in the field of communication, collaboration and creativity.”

With mixed teams “The big question is how, in the digital context, we can offer the customer a better service,” says Van Acoleyen. “Behind the scenes, we do that by working beyond the boundaries of traditional departments. Employees are less tied to organizational structures and are given the chance to work with their colleagues differently.” Proximus is breaking the traditional mold. “In the past, first the technical development of a product took place, then came a marketing plan and the sales followed that. Today we work with transversal teams, so that development, marketing, selling and services are in close contact with one another.”


All jobs are changing

studied educational sciences at KU Leuven. He has held senior HR positions at companies including Nokia, Agfa and Barco. He has been Chief HR Officer at Proximus since 2016.

26 _ T H E F U T U R E O F WO R K _ I N T ER V I E W _ S T I M U L AT E CR E AT I V E T H I N K I N G

3:00 PM

70 dB

During their afternoon dip, people are more tired and hence the most creative.

People's creativity peeks in a sound environment of 70 decibels, comparable with a vacuum cleaner, a television turned up loud, several people talking on the phone, etc.

The average person is cognitively lazy “Creative thinking means coming up with an idea that is new and feasible,” says Michaël Van Damme, experimental psychologist. “Innovation, in turn, is the implementation of these new ideas.”

Research shows a clear link between innovation and the financial results of a company. “So innovation is an attractive choice, because it helps the company stand out from the competition.” However, between innovation and return lies a vital third link: culture. “Innovation is more than just a process or a piece of technology,” says Michaël Van Damme. “Internal communication determines how a company innovates successfully.” First apart, then together The basis for all this is the need for innovative ideas. “People overestimate the creativity of a group. Working alone is usually more creative.” So is it more useful to ask five staff members to come up with five ideas each, rather than have them brainstorm together? “At first yes. The average person is cognitively lazy. It’s less fun when you have to think about something yourself, but it produces more: more ideas, more perspectives.” The best approach combines the two methods: first prepare individually, then brainstorm. Teamwork It’s important to then bring the innovative ideas together and make choices. “Innovation remains teamwork, above all,” says Van Damme. “So it’s not a good plan to reward ideas individually. That gives rise to competition within the group, which curbs the innovation process.” At group level, communication is once again the crucial factor. “You have to dare to put your idea to the group. Some colleagues won’t listen. Others will come back with counterarguments.” That leads to fragile communication moments. “There is a need for vision and security. Everyone must feel at ease when putting an idea to the group.” Only then is there a basis on which to take the common vision forward; only then can creative thinking lead to successful innovation.

MICHAËL VAN DAMME is a comedian, keynote speaker at TEDx Talks and gained a master’s degree in experimental psychology at Maastricht University. Michaël is a managing partner of The Forge – a UGent spin-off that stimulates creativity and innovation in companies. As part of his doctoral research, Van Damme carried out research on creative thinking.

HOW CAN YOU TRAIN PEOPLE IN CREATIVE THINKING? 1. Look for connections, establish links, make associations People have a tendency to put the problem at the center and then look for a solution to it. But by putting your starting point as far as possible from the problem, you often come up with ideas that you would otherwise never have thought of.

2. Put forward alternatives, fight your own cognitive laziness Don’t be too quick to say, “We don’t have the time or budget for that.” But fight your cognitive laziness and think ‘How can we make the time or the budget for this?’ ‘How could that be done?’ Criticism is very helpful, but always put forward an alternative yourself or ask others for alternatives.

The Circle, foundation of Barco’s digital workplace



In 2016, Barco in Kortrijk moved to their new site, One Campus, where the most striking feature is the circular, glass building, The Circle. At the same time, the company introduced a new way of working (together). Far more than just providing tools, support for the change proved important to the process.




 architect: Jaspers-Eyers

develops connected visualization solutions for companies in the entertainment and healthcare sectors, among others. Barco employs 3,500 people worldwide, records a turnover of €1.1 billion and is listed on the Brussels Stock Exchange.

 contractor: Cordeel  25 meters high,

75 meters in diameter  set on a campus of

230,000 m², of which 48,000 m² is built on  flexible workplaces for 600 staff members  company restaurant that seats 450 people  auditorium with 170 seats  40 bubbles  99 meeting rooms, including 26 in a separate meeting deck  R&D offices  training center  Experience Center

Yves Bryse, Campus Manager: “Historically, Barco was founded and built on two sites in Kortrijk and Kuurne. Not only had the buildings there become outdated, we also had the impression that there was little synergy between the two sites. When the idea of investing in a new building came up, we questioned the staff in depth. We compiled their ideas and wishes in a manual that we took to the architect. The new building had to be welcoming, in a location where everyone could work together well and in a place that could easily be adapted over time to the development of the company, without having to constantly rebuild.”

MOST USED DIGITAL TOOLS 1. M icrosoft Skype For Business 2. M icrosoft OneNote 3. M icrosoft OneDrive

Barco is applying flex work in the new building. How did you take this into account during the construction works? Bryse: “In new office buildings, sometimes you see an exclusively open-plan layout - and nothing else. We didn’t fall into that trap. For the new way of working, we opted for a wide range of different workspaces. Yes, there is a lot of open space, but at the same time there are other rooms on all floors, where people can hold meetings or work in silence. We believe it is important for everyone to be able to work together well, but also take a break easily. There is a terrace and at least one coffee area on each floor. Centrally, there is a large restaurant where people can meet throughout the day.”

The internal network

What was the most important motive for evolving towards a digital workplace? Bryse: “We realized that staff usually had a strong network outside the company – with other companies, universities, etc. – but that the internal network was often much smaller.



NATHALIE VUYLSTEKE has 17 years of experience at Barco. Since 2017, she has supported the development of the digital workplace in the company as Digital Collaboration Specialist.

“ The development of a digital workplace calls for a reliable framework. We involve staff in the selection and testing of new tools, which ensures a high adoption rate.”

YVES BRYSE has over 20 years of experience in HR. He has worked at Barco since 2010. As Campus Manager, he makes sure that staff, visitors and partners can work together in optimal conditions on the new One Campus.

“ The traditional office is not the ideal environment for every task. The fact that now there is a choice between different types of workspace has brought peace and comfort.”

With the digital workplace, you always have all your information at hand, so it is far more easy to come together with colleagues and strengthen the internal network. In addition, we wanted to hone cooperation with colleagues abroad. Cross-border working is crucial for us.” Companies expect the digital workplace to make the organization more interactive, more flexible and more productive. But the biggest challenge often lies in change management. Was that the case at Barco, as well? Bryse: “Definitely. It really is a big change. The staff have to think about the place where they work, depending on the type of job they have to do. The traditional office is not the ideal environment for every task. The fact that now there is a choice between different types of workspace has brought peace and comfort, but it does require quite an adjustment in habits adopted over the years.”

Give it a chance

How did you bring your staff on board? Bryse: “We invested a great deal of time in talking. I myself gave small groups of 20 staff members tours during the construction work 130 times. So we really told people what was happening. In the run-up to the move, 80 staff members acted as campus coaches. They made the difference in helping to make a few clear arrangements with everyone. All the workspaces are shared, eating at your desk is no longer an option and there are a number of basic rules about holding meetings. Eventually, a charter was produced, with the main arrangements on working and working together. We didn’t impose anything on staff, but we asked them to give the new concept a chance.”

NaviTrans meets anytime, anywhere NaviTrans develops software for logistics companies. To save costs and maintain efficiency, the company managers decided to equip their new head office with a digital communication infrastructure. The telephone exchange with its outdated technology was replaced by Skype for Business. GREGORY DEPREZ Operations Director at NaviTrans: “Skype for Business fits in perfectly with our new way of working strategy. We can share screens with our colleagues in other countries easily, which brings us closer together. So long-distance meetings are much faster and we can save on travel and cut our costs.”

One central platform runs and protects the communication tools. Scan this page to find out what advantages this has.


Proximus online

5 FUNDAMENTALS FOR A DIGITAL WORKPLACE 1. Home zone With flex desk capacity utilization of 85%, everyone has their own zone, the basic principle being that everyone is welcome everywhere. 2. Output management How and where a given task achieves the best results determines the location and the tools. 3. Shared workspace Everything is shared and everyone can work (together) where it is most suitable for their task. 4. Clean workspace The health of staff takes priority: hygiene and ideas such as ‘sitting is the new smoking’ are attracting a lot of attention. 5. Powerful meetings Digital tools and clear rules enhance efficiency in meetings.

Thanks to the Barco ClickShares in every room, employees can share their laptop or mobile device on a central screen without any problem.

Better digital cooperation

What role does the Digital Collaboration Specialist play on the new campus? Nathalie Vuylsteke: “A while ago, a lot of work was put into a reliable intranet platform. But digital cooperation has evolved a great deal in a short period of time and it is clear that we need to expand our view to take in the entire digital workplace. My job is to make contact with the staff to see how we can cooperate more and better ­digitally on a worldwide basis. We also conducted a survey to find out what staff think of certain tools and what else they need. On the basis of these findings, we are currently drawing up a roadmap that will lead to the introduction of a number of new tools.” How do you use digital tools to improve cooperation and interaction among staff? Vuylsteke: “The intranet is still an important channel for communication, supplemented by digital signage in the building. As regards digital cooperation, we have been using Microsoft Skype for Business for quite some time now. Since the move, we have focused more on Microsoft OneNote and OneDrive. At a later stage, we want to give staff a platform where they can chat within a team about a specific task, call one another and share documents, all without having to switch to other applications.

Download the ebook ‘The digital workplace’ Today, everything is connected with everything because the digital transformation is changing our way of working. The workplace is no exception. Read all about it in the ebook. You'll be ready for tomorrow.

Scan this page with the VEEEW app and download your copy of the ebook about the digital workplace.

AI polarizes. That much is clear. But so is the fact that technology will play a major role in areas such as human health. Whether all consumers will join this AI story with confidence will depend largely on how companies and developers succeed in making them understand the added value of AI.

For other consumers, AI cannot become part of our daily lives quickly enough. They are looking forward to the roboboss or the AI doctor that will be helping them out. They are optimistic and enthusiastic.

The fundamental change that artificial intelligence (AI) can and will bring about creates fear in some consumers. What about these robots we’ll be working with? Going to work in a self-driving car? No thanks!

Are consumers afraid of AI?





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3. AI moves from insight to action. Converting insights to actions: this is where AI can help you. Which problems, questions and doubts do your customers have and what actions need to be automatically linked to them to ensure customer satisfaction?

2. AI with the focus on the human touch. People still trust people most. Consumers must be able to sense the human touch in your customer contacts and service provision. A strategy in this area is best based on a personal approach, with insight into the customer's context and real-time responses. So support your staff with smart AI systems.

1. Acting consistently increases customer loyalty. To improve customer satisfaction, your services must be available at all times via all possible channels and always work in the same way. A company that is able to act adequately in the same way and within the same timeframe at all times inspires confidence. Communication channels that are able to react to one another optimally, that can share data, etc., break through silos and thus work in your favor.

These three tips will help you integrate AI into your products and services the smart way.

Convince your consumers of the advantages of AI


Data have no borders Why would a Brazilian company use a Belgian datacenter via its Romanian IT department? Nico Verpoorten, Infrastructure & Network Manager at Stefanini, on the how and why of these digital musical chairs.


tefanini is a Brazilian company that has its European headqu ar ters in Brussels, but its IT staff are mainly at three sites in Romania and two in Poland,” Nico Verpoorten explains. “There is a technical facility in Bucharest, but the vast majority of our operations are directed from the Proximus datacenter in Machelen.”


It’s not really surprising that Stefanini ended up there: Nico knows the datacenter very well. “I started working there for my first job,” he explains. “After that the center was taken over by IBM and then by Proximus. Okay, the fact that I once worked there is of course not enough for a company like Stefanini. What was more important was that Proximus

NICO VERPOORTEN obtained a master’s degree in electronics and telecom engineering from Antwerp College. He worked at Unisource which then was integrated into KPN Belgium. After this he moved to Techteam, which was taken over by Stefanini in 2010.

STEFANINI works on outsourcing, app development, consulting and staffing. Its head office is in São Paulo, the EMEA region is served from Brussels and the US from Detroit. Stefanini employs around 22,000 people and is active in 40 countries in North and South America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

was able to offer us absolute guarantees in terms of uptime, redundancy and security. We opted for security and freedom from worry: the cooling works properly, the power supply is fine, everything is secured. It’s audited annually with a positive result at the end. That is worth a lot to us.” Hybrid cloud “Above all, we were looking for a party that would rent us pure rack space. After all, we run our equipment ourselves. We are going for a hybrid cloud solution. Is that an expansion? No, it will be more efficient, but in fact I think we’ll need somewhat less room. That’s the way it goes with technology, isn’t it?”

Proximus online

Everything about datacenters Do you want to know more about our datacenter solutions? Go to You’ll be ready for tomorrow.

Scan this page and get a 360° experience at the Proximus datacenter in Brussels.


Chatbot reduces the distance to the customer TECHNOLOGY

In service centers, chatbots provide a double advantage. Customers receive a clear answer to their questions and, at the same time, the service center staff have more time to deal with complex issues.

_ 37

Alexandre Warnier: “First and foremost, the chatbot should be seen as a new channel, a new way of moving closer to the customer. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), the chatbot instantly ‘understands’ what the questioner is looking for. So the chatbot recognizes the real content of the question, regardless of how the person asks it. In this way, AI is able to figure out natural language. Once it’s done that, the chatbot initiates the right action. The technology provides a solution to answer customers’ questions, both day and night.” Gerd Bogaerts: “Nevertheless, there are also simple applications. You don’t need any AI to make an appointment. The great advantage is that the chatbot acts as a filter.”

The human factor How far will people and chatbots be from one another in five years’ time? Bogaerts: “In five years it may no longer be possible to say, just like that, who is answering the question: a chatbot or a person. Apart from that, we will, of course, continue to discuss more complex things with people. That won’t change.” Warnier: “The human factor remains essential, even in service centers. Besides, people already sometimes think they are talking to a chatbot whereas, in fact, it’s an agent or vice versa. Above all, that confirms the quality of the chatbot’s language.” Today we communicate with chatbots by text or voice. Could that eventually be done differently as well? Alexandre: “In the future, the chatbot may perhaps also give answers that contain some augmented or virtual reality.” Bogaerts: “More importantly, in the future, the chatbot will also recognize emotions and be able to react appropriately.” So are we ultimately evolving towards service centers that only use chatbots? Bogaerts: “For simple tasks, yes. But people will continue to deal with complex issues.” Warnier: “That will allow the agents at service centers to focus on tasks with added value. Besides, a new form of cooperation will develop between agents and chatbots, so that, among other things, they'll give tasks to one another.”

Success with chatbots: 3 helpful tips ALEXANDRE WARNIER is an engineer but also went on to study economics and philosophy. He has worked at Proximus for 10 years, since 2016 as Head of Digital Transformation.

GERD BOGAERTS is an industrial engineer with a master’s degree in industrial policy. He has worked at Proximus since 1994 and is now manager of the Customer Help Center.

1. Work on the design of the chat itself: prepare the chatbot to hold a natural conversation, with a logical structure. 2. E nsure integration between the agents and the chatbot: this is essential for long-term success but less important with a pop-up chatbot (for instance, to support a temporary measure). 3. Go for a clear approach: let the customer know who they are talking to, a chatbot or an agent.

Chatbots @ Proximus Bogaerts: “For us, too, chat is an extra channel that customers can use to contact us. It means we can be available day and night and, at the same time, answer questions more quickly and better. Chatbots increase efficiency in the service center and improve the customer experience at the same time.” How do customers react to chatbots? Warnier: “Very positively. There is a double advantage for helpdesks. On the one hand, there is a clear, positive effect on customer satisfaction and, on the other hand, chatbots increase productivity among the agents.” Bogaerts: “The same goes for sales. Chat and chatbots together form a new channel. That brings in extra sales: transactions that otherwise would not have happened. At the same time, the chatbot absorbs the additional pressure, deals with simple sales transactions itself and passes on the rest to an agent.” What happens when someone asks a chatbot an open question? For example: “Hi, what sort of questions do people usually ask you?” Warnier: “It’s difficult to anticipate that sort of question. The chatbot may say: ‘I don’t know the answer. I will put you through to an agent who will help you.’ But for questions about, say, invoices, digital TV or Wi-Fi, virtually all possible answers have, of course, been included in the system.”


Blockchain ensures simplified and reliable processes. The big challenges lie not in the technology, but in the new business models that result from it.

Blockchain is here to stay and create trust VISION

FRANK VERHAEST manages strategic related blockchain projects at Isabel Group.

_ 39

rank Verhaest, Program Manager Innovation & Blockchain at Isabel Group: “Put simply, you could describe blockchain as the solution that acts as the virtual bookkeeper for processes carried out via the internet. The bookkeeper and his clients have a relationship based on trust. Well, blockchain creates trust between parties with opposing interests, such as a buyer and a seller. And just like the bookkeeper, blockchain stores the transactions carried out in a ledger.”


What is the technical story behind blockchain? Verhaest: “A blockchain is a distributed, open data register, containing data that cannot be altered or deleted. Distributed means that the data register is not located in a single place. A blockchain is literally a chain of blocks of data, spread over different computers – often thousands of devices. Open implies that no single party is the exclusive owner of the blockchain. As an individual user, you cannot modify or delete the datablock. So a blockchain is really a big database, open to everyone, but at the same time also monitored by everyone.”

ISABEL GROUP is the largest provider of multibank internet banking for professional users in Belgium. It digitizes the financial supply chain of professional users and forms the link between the business world, banks and suppliers.

Isabel Group offers financial solutions:  Multibanking via the Isabel6 platform  Exchanging of financial and transactional documents via Zoomit and CodaBox  Open banking via the Ibanity API store

260 experts

€65.4 MILLION turnover in 2017

From diamonds and food to mortgages

Where can we apply blockchain? Verhaest: “The blockchain concept offers a solution for transactions where trust is important. For instance, suppose a buyer only wants to pay for goods once he has been able to check the quality. But at the same time, the seller wonders whether he will see his money once he has delivered. Blockchain can solve that by recording receipt of the goods and – after approval from the buyer – making the payment automatically. A blockchain platform like this is now available in the form of This solution is an initiative taken by seven European banks, including KBC. Incidentally, the IoT can also play a role here. An IoT application could be used to register receipt of the goods.” Do you know of any more examples of concrete applications? Verhaest: “Diamond business De Beers has developed a blockchain application which guarantees that diamonds are genuine. Blockchain can also be used to support traceability in the food chain with a solution from the company Provenance, stop the black market in concert tickets or record mortgages.”


“ Just as in the early days of the internet, blockchain is the start of a completely new transactional platform.” FRANK VERHAEST, Program Manager Innovation & Blockchain at Isabel Group

Is it possible to work with blockchain yourself? A fair amount of consultation is necessary between parties who may not always have the same level of knowledge when it comes to blockchain. Verhaest: “Blockchain is not rocket science. The technological aspect accounts for maybe 20%. The big challenge is the business model. You have to question that and dare to throw it out – and that often requires a different mindset.”

No more middlemen

According to the World Economic Forum, in 10 years blockchain will be responsible for around 10% of worldwide economic growth. How do you see that happening? Verhaest: “Blockchain is here to stay, that I do think. You really can do a lot with it. I like to compare it with the early days of the internet. Just as back then, blockchain is the start of a completely new transactional platform. Companies should certainly not wait to start working with it. By carrying out tests and looking for applications, confidence in blockchain will only increase, and even better ideas will follow as a result.

Where do you think the greatest potential lies? Verhaest: “Blockchain is an essential element in the platform economy, precisely because it’s a technology that guarantees trust. It’s something you need to dare to experiment with as a company. Ultimately, it’s about coming up with simpler, better processes. A typical trait of the platform economy is that the role of the middleman disappears because at the moment, it is this middleman who provides the trust. A party like Airbnb brings supply and demand together. In the platform economy, landlords and tenants talk to one another directly, without a middleman, while blockchain makes sure that both parties can trust one another.”

Pilot phase

How about the situation in ­Belgium? Do you see opportunities for Belgian companies? Verhaest: “There’s a lot going on, with companies working on proof of concept. New startups are appearing all the time. I’m thinking here, for example, of Solarly, a startup from ­Mont-Saint-Guibert that has devised a solution the use of smart, connected solar panels in Africa. Blockchain is popping up more and more in logistics and the digitalization

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“ Blockchain is an essential element in the platform economy, precisely because it’s a technology that guarantees trust.”

of document flows, too. At the moment we are in the middle of the pilot phase. The expectation is that many of these projects will go live from next year. And in the meantime, the technology is gaining maturity.” Blockchain can be sure of attracting a lot of interest because the technology is fraud-resistant. But using more and more technology increases the risk of cybercrime. Can blockchain fall victim to that, as well? Verhaest: “The risk of fraud with blockchain lies mainly in smart contracts, pieces of code that are programmed on a blockchain. When these smart contracts contain bugs, they can be exploited by hackers. Mining, which is often used with cryptocurrencies, can also be a problem when miners have more than 51% of the mining power in their hands. One solution for many companies is to use a private blockchain environment – rather than a public one – where mining is not necessary. The blockchain platforms themselves are almost always opensource software. If something were to go wrong somewhere, the open-source community puts it right straight away.”

Isabel Group develops corporate identity solutions “Isabel Group is using blockchain to develop an application that can best be described as itsme® for companies. We are a corporate identity provider. For this, we are working with four leading Belgian banks. When a company registers as a customer with a bank, a so-called on-boarding process takes place. If the company opens an account with another bank, it has to go through the same procedure. By bringing in Isabel Group as an identity provider, this is no longer necessary. Just as a person can easily make themselves known with Itsme, companies will be able to do so quickly, easily and reliably via Isabel Group. That should simplify digital traffic between companies and among government services, banks and other companies. It’s a solution where blockchain provides the trust.”

42 _ PL AT FO R M ECO N O M Y _ I N T ER V I E W_ A P I



Every business transformation

is a digital

transformation Pieces of technology available via a web platform are paving the way for more and faster digital transformation. The platform economy is forcing companies to think about the way in which they create value in the digital era.


“ The platform economy works in all directions: you can use services, but you can also build solutions yourself and then offer them to others via the platform.”


oftware is eating the world. A digital variant of virtually every conceivable process and every conceivable service now exists. “These days, the cloud is used not only for processing power and storage space,” says Jan Manssens, Director Strategy, Growth & Innovation at Proximus, “but also for complex applications such as blockchain and machine learning.” That makes it possible to build new solutions very quickly. “Things that once appeared on the market as a product are now available immediately as a software service. What's more, this service often interacts with the physical product as well, so that the whole exceeds the sum of the parts.” The development towards software services has given rise to various IT ecosystems fairly quickly, including IBM Cloud, SAP HANA, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services, to name only the best known in the market.

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The whole value chain “We see companies coming to the realization that a great deal of value still lies hidden,” Manssens goes on. “By optimizing the available corporate data and combining them with information from other sources, new opportunities are created.” And this is where the biggest challenge lies for platform players: they have to keep the threshold as low as possible. “A company that decides to adopt a platform model is making a strategic choice. It’s important that all the links in the value chain are on the platform and that the value ultimately also flows back to the various links and players.” This is an exercise that goes much further than the digitalization of existing tools and services. “Stand-alone digital solutions – each with their own separate delivery route – will ultimately not make the difference. Digitalization needs to penetrate to the very core of a company. Bringing digital products and services together on a platform gives rise to a whole new story.” Down to work with APIs Proximus EnCo supports this development. On the platform, developers gain immediate access to the technologies of Proximus and its partners, provided via APIs or programming interfaces. Using APIs, it is possible to build new solutions quickly and easily by combining existing blocks with one another. What's more, you can respond faster. What the CIO is proposing is too expensive and comes too late: this witty remark is often bandied about. The traditional IT approach only offers solutions to yesterday’s problems, as it were. “By thinking in terms of APIs, IT places the ball

firmly in the business camp. On a platform like Proximus EnCo, you can then move in various directions. You can benefit from solutions, but you can equally well build applications, not just for your own use but possibly also to offer to external parties via the platform.”

JAN MANSSENS Director Strategy, Growth and Innovation at Proximus.

In search of value The API economy is creating a new type of freedom from restraint and greater agility. That provides new opportunities but, at the same time, it is also a challenge for those offering existing, integrated solutions. “With the platform model, you no longer have to purchase a complete software suite for logistics, for instance,” says Manssens. “Instead you just take a very specific functionality, such as the API for the estimated time of arrival.” This example immediately shows the obstacle facing service providers. “In the platform economy, they are moving away from their familiar business model. In short, they need to understand very clearly where the value lies and only then think about what they put on the platform.” Just waiting to see what will happen is not an option here. “Every business transformation is a digital transformation today,” Manssens concludes. “In the ideal case, a company makes the result of this transformation into a spin-off and, that way, it sells the service to other companies – again via the platform.”

4 4 _ T R E N D S I N T H E A P I ECO N O M Y _ W H AT W I LL T H E FU T U R E B R I N G?

Where will the API economy go by 2020 & 2021? By 2020, 60% of all enterprises will have an organization-wide digital transformation platform strategy. They will be implementing that strategy as the new IT core for competing in the digital economy. Source: IDC

ENTERPRISES BECOME DIGITAL PLATFORMS, ONLINE AND IN REAL TIME. By 2021, these digital platforms will orchestrate information exchange between multiple organizations in their ecosystems using the cloud.

THE DIGITAL ECONOMY WILL AFFECT ALL SECTORS, ALL ACTIVITIES WORLDWIDE. At least 50% of global GDP will be digitalized, with growth in every industry driven by digitally enhanced offerings, operations and relationships.

75% of organizations will have core cloud API strategies to enable an API-driven economy.

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION IS SOON TO BE THE NEW OLYMPICS. By 2020, investors will use platform, data value and customer engagement metrics as valuation factors for all enterprises.

SECURITY IS A FUNDAMENTAL BUSINESS ELEMENT IN THE API ECONOMY. 60% of organizations engaging in M&A activity will consider cybersecurity posture as a critical factor in their due diligence process.

IT’S ALL ABOUT BUSINESS… By 2020, 60% of digital transformation projects involving professional services firms will be primarily sponsored by C-suite executives outside of the IT department, and line-of-business executives will have significantly greater visibility and involvement in these projects.

I N P R AC T I C E _ DX AT EP I CU R A _ 45


A hospital network in

full mobility mode When it comes to digital transformation, the hospital network ­EpiCURA definitely stands out. Transformation is a long-term project, but the foundations are essential for a multi-site organization that aims to become entirely mobile.

EpiCURA is a hospital network in the district of Mons-Borinage and Ath. Spread across three hospital sites and seven satellite sites, the organization has a total of 806 beds, 2,750 staff and 450 medical practitioners.

The call center had a dropout rate of over 40%. Today calls are answered within 20 seconds. 2,750 EpiCURA employees now have easy access to patient information, thanks to their 360° view of the file. Around 250,000 calls are handled every quarter.

Simplicity on a daily basis Before replacing the traditional telephone exchange with the ‘Unified Communications’ solution from Proximus & Avaya, staff at EpiCURA had two or even three telephones. The call center had a drop-out rate of over 40%, and the mobility across the different sites remained an enormous chal-

“ The future is about full mobility – both intramuros and extramuros - serving mobile players in the healthcare sector.” François Burhin, CEO at EpiCURA

lenge. Now, all those involved in the hospital network can collaborate with others, regardless of their location, the time or their chosen devices. We have a common platform and agility without compromise. A call center as the nerve center These days the new integral solution in place at EpiCURA is responsible for taking calls within 20 seconds, for providing a message service tailored to each department and for tracking its patients. Around 250,000 calls are handled every quarter. Convenience is optimized for both patients and call center staff. A unique patient experience One of the challenges faced by EpiCURA in its digital transformation is to preserve its proximity to the patient. This involves ensuring that information is passed on from the moment the first meeting is arranged all the way through to remote medical care. With no more obsolete informa-

tion and with real time updates, 2,750 EpiCURA employees are now able to approach the patient personally, thanks to their 360° view of the file. Change management and business application The integration of new technology requires good change management. EpiCURA made use of a communication campaign targeting patients and an initiative that was very innovative in the hospital sector: ‘ambassadors of the new telephone technology’. This team of internal experts helped facilitate the change process by offering tailored support to all stakeholders.


JEAN-MARIE STAS Marketing Expert at Proximus and granddad of Alix and Arthur

ow that our grandchildren are growing up, we see certain patterns returning. Parents want the best for their children and intend to bring them up in a certain way and with certain values. Just as we did when they were that age. Now that we are grandparents, we are no longer so strict with the rules, because everything will be fine. You see this pattern with other people as well, and certainly with the previous generations. I call this the ‘generations syndrome’: certain behavior that always recurs, regardless of culture or society.


I see syndromes like this in the workplace, as well. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say someone starts working at the age of 25. The 25to 40-year-olds are really the first generation. These people invariably want to seize everything, change everything, and they are eager to learn. This is the period when they are trained as employees. The 40to 50-year-olds react differently.

The generations syndrome They have proved their worth and they know – by trial and error – how things must be. This is the generation that wants to maintain the status quo because otherwise they will have to start questioning themselves again and sometimes they are already having personal difficulties with their mid-life crisis. The 50- to 60-year-olds think that, having done the same thing for 25 years, slight changes could be made. Not too much, but just enough to learn new things at work. The over60s, on the other hand, have come to the conclusion that the world has changed so much that everything needs to change because “Things can't go on as they have for the past 35 years.”

Of course, these are all caricatures and a great many nuances are possible. Nevertheless, the world is changing; people change, but human beings don’t. And, at the end of the day, this is just where the difficulty lies for every organization: having everyone contribute to change. But the second generation, in the prime of their lives, precisely the people who can mobilize the most energy efficiently, are the ones who want change the least. This is the ‘squeezed generation’: right now, their children are becoming adolescents, they may have difficulties in their marriage and their parents are getting old and needy. So their way of working becomes their anchor. Routine at work to compensate for the loss of routines in their private lives. What I want to say is this: don’t take it all too seriously. Make sure everyone can laugh at work, that everyone likes coming to work. These 35 years pass very quickly. Being wrong is not serious, because ours is a learning organization. Change? It happens anyway: the world changes, the competition changes, the products and services change, the organization changes. But the fun needs to stay. Hopefully my children realize that as they bring up their children, too. Everyone should just enjoy life, because it’s over before you know it.

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