Proximus One Q1 2019 EN

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#34 digital business magazine March 2019

IMPORTANCE OF AI BREAKS THROUGH Survey on use in European and Belgian markets

BUSINESSES IN BELGIUM Ardo and Easyfairs, Businesses of the Year, on their success

TECHNOLOGY STRENGTHENS NOTARIES IT as a spearhead of first-class customer service for notaries

Smart 2.0 buildings More than cost-efficient

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More than just technology

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

ith the help of new technology, we are improving the environment in which we live and work. At the same time, a piece of technology is not enough to convert an ordinary building into a smart one. In that respect, an experienced IT partner that can guide you through the different steps of such a transformation is a key success factor.


In this issue of One Magazine, we take you behind the scenes of a few prominent smart buildings, such as the new AXA head office in Brussels and the new Deloitte building at Brussels Airport. At Proximus, too, we apply the smart building concept. Step by step, we are dealing with the Proximus Towers in Brussels. Each of these cases shows that a smart building is far more than an energy-efficient building. The Internet of Things (IoT) – through smart collaboration tools and sensors, among other things – plays a crucial role in creating an inspiring, pleasant working environment and, at the same time, a productive workplace. A smart building is created on the basis of an ecosystem. No one runs the entire chain. The best solutions are achieved by thinking about the issues together, developing them together and working together. As you know, we are happy to share the expertise we have built up with our customers. In this magazine, we aim to offer you the inspiration you need on the topic of smart buildings. Happy reading.


Chief Enterprise Market Officer Proximus


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Scan this with the VEEEW app and find out all about the IBM Quantum Computer in this video.

BM Q System One is the world’s first integrated quantum computer system for scientific and commercial use. The computer is a fully integrated structure of superconducting circuits, hypermodern qubit transistor chips and a cryogenic cooling space to keep the chips at a constant temperature of -270°C. The striking design, with its black polished housing enclosed in a 27 m3 glass container, looks very much like something you would encounter in a sci-fi movie. The design was conceived by the same company responsible for the display case of the Mona Lisa.


IBM Q System One

Unlike a regular computer, a quantum computer does not work with a binary code of 1 and 0, but with a spectrum that can continuously include everything between 1 and 0. The transistor of a quantum computer can, in other words, be in two inputs at the same time. This state is called ‘superposition’. If a regular computer has to predict heads or tails, it can only guess between heads or tails. A quantum computer, on the other hand, can give all possible answers at the same time, so that it will always be right. This provides an enormous simplification in computing power. A 100-qubit quantum computer can, in theory, do the work of all supercomputers in the world in just a few milliseconds. With its 20 qubits, IBM Q System One is only a first step in that direction. But the promising applications, such as remote surgery and conscious AI, already make you dream.

Contents #34

Vision & insights


Smart buildings are smart twice over: physically and digitally. A double interview with Siemens.


The workforce of the future is showing more interest than ever in AI. Professor DaniĂŤl De Schreye of KU Leuven explains.

One magazine experience thanks to AR Online and offline are coming closer together. Read, watch and listen. Experience One magazine via augmented reality. 1. D ownload the free VEEEW app in the App Store or Google Play. 2. Scan the pages with the VEEEW icon. 3. D iscover more video, audio and web content and make One an experience.


The new head office of AXA Belgium in the heart of Brussels enables a new way of working.


Microsoft and EY survey AI use in European and Belgian companies


JCDecaux advertises via 170 digital advertising screens

13 CHÂTEAUFORM’ Fiber optic in castles

19 PROXIMUS REVAMPS THE TOWERS Smart workplaces in smart buildings


BESIX and Proximus forge an ideal partnership


Smartcare measures humidity, temperature and light



How a new building reflects the company’s vision of mobility and sustainable society



Nokia, H.Essers, KPMG and many, many more. HR professionals on the digital workplace

How Ardo from West Flanders developed into a world player in the frozen fruit, vegetables and herbs market.

What will change over the next five years?



Easyfairs doubles turnover in the course of five years



A must read: Aaron Dignan – Brave New Work

Françoise Chombar and Veerle Lozie, the strong women behind Melexis: “Diversity is in our DNA, innovation is the driver.”

Notaries call on the Fednot SNN platform



Millennials and IoT: the perfect match? A publication of Proximus public limited company of Belgian Public Law Year 13 / Number 34/Q1 2019 Publisher: Bart Van Den Meersche, Koning Albert II-laan 27, 1030 Brussels Coordination: Charline Briot, Robbin Sacré and Patrick De Saeger Contributors: Andrew Beavis, Wes L Cockx, Jean-François Dinant, Robert Doran, Isabelle Latour, Veerle De Graeve, Dries Van Damme, Frank Van den Branden, Michel Verpoorten and Filip Van Loock. Concept and realization: For more information, contact: Robbin Sacré, Nederlandstalige versie: Mail naar ­ om een exemplaar van dit magazine in het Nederlands te ontvangen. Version français: mail à afin d’obtenir un exemplaire de ce magazine en français. The technical specifications are indicative only. Proximus reserves the right to make changes without prior notification. Haven’t got the contact details of your Proximus account manager close by? Go to



Flemish university courses on artificial intelligence are packed. At the KU Leuven, 259 students are enrolled in the AI master’s course, a rise of 50% compared to last year

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“ We give them an academic background, and companies offer them the experience. That’s where they will have to take a leap of faith.” Professor Daniel De Schreye, coordinator of the AI master’s program at KU Leuven

How come there is so much interest in AI courses? Daniel De Schreye: “One aspect is that AI has been in the news for three or four years now and attracts a lot of media attention. At the same time, more and more companies, particularly the larger ones, are realizing that they are sitting on a mountain of data that is just begging to be used: analysis, image processing and marketing forecasts to name but a few. So many students come from the business world. Non-working students see this as a good investment in itself: graduates are virtually certain to get a job.” Does the initiative for this course come from the business world or the academic world? Daniel: “The academic world. The course has existed for over 30 years, but back then it was exclusively about doing research. However, we do have a capacity problem. Owing to the increased social importance of AI, we are offering the course to more and more people, but now we have really reached our limit.” What are the students’ backgrounds? Daniel: “Very varied, because AI can be applied in different areas. There are people from the financial world, economists and actuaries, for instance, who want to use AI for data analysis and data mining. Linguists are also well represented. Mechanics too, like

people who work on vision systems for robots. And students from psychology, neuro­sciences and even law are taking the course.” PROFESSOR DANIEL DE SCHREYE was the coordinator of the AI master’s program at KU Leuven for 16 years. He is linked to the Computer Sciences Department and is a professor in the Engineering Sciences faculty. He has countless publications to his name on artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analysis.

The AI hype is manifesting itself across the language border as well. In the Frenchspeaking community of Belgium, at the University of Bergen, l’UMONS, they introduced a course called ‘Hands on AI’ in September of last year. On the one hand, the course is meant for master and PhD students in computer sciences. On the other it attracts working engineers and computer scientists. The university is working together with research institutes Numediart and InforTech.

Do you work much with the industry? Daniel: “A third of our students work, so there is definitely a feel for company needs. Our lecturers – we have about 30 – also constantly set up projects with industrial partners, so we definitely have a lot of contact with businesses. However, it goes further than that: we are overwhelmed with requests from the industry, but we can’t meet them all. We have to be selective.” Have Belgian companies yet sufficiently realized the importance of AI? Daniel: “My gut feeling says yes, they have. For example, look at how the banks have embraced it: some Belgian banks have had data analysis departments for six or seven years now, for analytics, to measure marketing impact, to draw up investment profiles, to make investment predictions and more. The bigger companies definitely realize that they have to use AI.” Do regulations and ethical issues slow Belgian companies down compared to American or Chinese competitors? Daniel: “It’s true that there are some regulations on the ethics of AI as of yet, but that clearly doesn’t prevent development.

I think that, above all, the far larger amount of money that China and the US are pumping into research has more impact than any concerns about AI. Flemish Minister for Innovation, Philippe Muyters, recently announced that we are going to put €40 to €50 million a year aside for this. That is definitely a good thing.” Do you also notice more interest in foreign initiatives among your students, or do Belgian companies not have to worry about an exodus of all this talent? Daniel: “About a third of the students are foreigners and they come from all over the world. We have one of the few complete AI programs in the world. There are around 10 or 15 of them, and ours is out in front. Afterwards, many of the students return home to work. Some Flemish students go abroad, but they are the real winners. They go to work at Google, for example.” What advice would you give AI graduates before they meet their employer? Daniel: “I don’t have to give them any more advice. The students are widely trained, in depth, and they have the skills to work with apps. What’s more, this is not a vocational course. It’s an academic course. We give them an academic background, and companies offer them the experience. That’s where they will have to take a leap of faith.”


AI in companies: the current situation Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around for decades, but the rise in computing power promises whole new ways of using AI. Hence business is ripe with hype, and early adopters are spreading AI adoption from value chain to value chain, across all industry sectors. But what are these companies investing in exactly and how do they manage this complex transformation? Microsoft and EY investigated the current state of AI with European and Belgian companies.


1. Current role of AI in business How important is AI? Microsoft’s report has shown that 90% of respondents in Belgium and Luxembourg say AI is considered an important topic with executives, but only 43% with managers and a mere 19% with employees. The reason might be that employees still share job insecurities about AI, and that AI is still very much an abstract notion to them. Not surprisingly, AI ranks high, but not highest, on the digital priority list. Priority is firstly given to collecting, storing and understanding data. Seventy-six percent of Belgian companies have, however, initialized successful AI pilot projects or have started using AI applications in their daily operations.

Scan this page with the VEEEW app to read the full report on AI of Microsoft and get insights of several statistics.

to predict. For instance, AI can proactively and accurately predict which customers could leave. Secondly, 62% of respondents say AI is applied in smart automation mainly to automate logistics. The third main use for AI today is in generating insights, which in Belgium rates equally with automation at 62%. For example, AI significantly contributes to forecasting product demand. Finally, at 38%, AI is used to personalize the user experience, or to introduce chatbots to customer service.

2. Problems and advice from early adopters

The main problem that all companies share is a major lack of skilled workers to meet the demand for AI expertise. Hence many have either opted to seek external partners or they adopt a wait-and-see strategy. But pioneers advise not to rely upon external partners before having internal people who can properly evaluate their data. Also, Where is AI currently deployed? Most AI in Belgium is currently either de- adopting a wait-and-see strategy can prove risky, as the ployed in IT (52%) or R&D (43%). Employees longer you wait, the harder it is to get the right people. in R&D are often engineers with a proper un- If you do choose to form a relationship before you have derstanding of and interest in in-house expertise, try academic partnerAI. Very occasionally AI is also ships, as they come with innovative and deployed in customer-facing reliable ecosystems with a lot of potential. Artificial and commercial functions like Intelligence marketing, sales and customThe problem with data in Europe er service. But it is expected Another main problem facing companies Belgium & Luxembourg that these departments will is the governance of data, specifically who make much more use of AI in owns it, how it is stored, how it is accessed the near future. and who can access it. This includes external hurdles like privacy regulations (GDPR) and AI regulations, but also internal hurHow is AI put to use? Firstly, 76% of respondents dles like organizational ‘silo thinking’. Early state that the main use of AI is adopters advise leaders to support collabOutlook for 2019 and Beyond

How 277 Major Companies Benefit from AI R E P O R T CO M M I S S I O N E D BY M I C R O S O F T A N D CO N D U C T E D BY E Y

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Proximus online



86% of companies expect AI to optimize operations.

52% of the surveyed

71% believe AI will

enterprises are afraid of AI’s impact on personnel.

71% are convinced that

43% see significant risk in the lack of clear AI guidelines and regulations.

AI will aid in engaging customers.

43% of AI executives

transform their products and services.

62% say that AI will help employees in their daily work.

fear losing control over AI and all that comes with it.

oration through projects. Deconstruct decentralized data storage and introduce a centralized system where data is readily accessible. Cloud solutions can be a helpful tool here. Meanwhile the C-suite should focus on defining data governance and strategy, so that the company is not hindered by a lack of clarity. Finally, build your data structure to incorporate unstructured data, even from external sources. Not enough agile AI leadership The third most common problem is that AI leadership is lacking in the C-suite department. Leaders need to understand the impact AI has and needs to have on business. Change management should happen bottom-up. Leaders can support this by articulating a clear vision, by setting goals and securing a broad buy-in across the organization. In general, the company approach should be agile. So, break down silos and accept that leadership will lose control. Motivate exploration by starting experimental pilot projects and use cases with uncertain outcomes to learn where value is hiding and be prepared to adjust the company direction more frequently. The transformation is not immediate, it is continuous.

Source: © Ernst & Young LLP in accordance with Microsoft, 2018

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1 2 _ B I G DATA _ J C D E C A U X A N A LY Z E S S H O P P I N G C E N T E R V I S I TO R S

Who’s seen my 170 advertising panels?


Shopping centers in Belgium attract 3 million visitors every week. These visitors spend an average of 75 minutes there. A great playing field for advertisers and a challenge for JCDecaux which operates over 170 digital advertising screens.

The need to reinvent yourself Among other things, JCDecaux manages 170 digital advertising screens in Belgium, distributed among 30 shopping centers. JCDecaux, which promotes the growth of out-of-home advertising with its increasing investments in digital applications, is strengthening its digital range thanks to the Proximus ecosystem. The aim is clear: to analyze the visitor profile in order to optimize the consumer experience and commercial policy.

VEERLE COLIN started her professional career at the Flemish Media Company (MEDIALAAN). Here she rose from Account Manager to Marketing Manager. Then she went on to work at Viacom for seven years till she became Marketing Director at JCDecaux.

JCDECAUX is a French family business specializing in ‘out-of-home’ communication (urban furniture, large posters, public transport, airports, shopping malls and retail environments, as well as public bicycle sharing). JCDecaux employs 250 people in the Belux.

Data to optimize the range Shopping centers provide a rich source of all kinds of data. The many visitors with their mobile phones enable detailed analysis of their behavior. “For our digital advertising range, we want to guarantee advertisers that they are reaching the right audience and the promised number of contacts at the required time and at the right price. To do this, we need detailed data on contact volumes and visitor profiles,” explains Veerle Colin, Marketing Director at JCDecaux. Bringing together the various data sources For JCDecaux, the solution lies in a model that combines various data sources: data from WiFi sensors that count the number of people passing by each screen, together with overall counts of the number of mobile phones present. Crossing these data with the anonymous socio-demographic profile of ­u sers instantly yields interesting

“ The available data will enable us to offer advertisers more insight into the audience reached and prepare quotes on the basis of the number of contacts made.” Veerle Colin, Marketing Director at JCDecaux

results. “Our goal is to collect all the ingredients so as to evolve to a smart way of commercializing digital advertising screens. The available data will enable us to offer advertisers more insight into the audience reached and prepare quotes on the basis of the number of contacts made,” Veerle confirms.

I N P R AC T I C E _ C H ÂT E A U F O R M ’_ 1 3

Fiber optic in historic residences Castles are beautiful, but it takes more to become a point of reference. Châteauform’, a French group specializing in the organization of seminars and corporate events, is boosting its connectivity at the Château du Val Saint Lambert in Seraing.

CHÂTEAUFORM’ which was established in 1996, is the European leader in the organization of B2B seminars. In Belgium: 2 sites of its own, 42 meeting rooms, 65 talents and 25,000 participants per year.


The events sector is fond of connectivity: screens, audio a n d v i d e o s y s te m s , h o m e automation, lighting, etc. Jan Kleingeld, Country Manager at Châteauform’ in Belgium refers to an actual trend: “Smartphones, tablets and laptops. The number of mobile appliances per participant has tripled. There is no room for compromise, and we are responding to this demand for simultaneous broadband for all our events. Fiber ensures our global interconnection.”

JAN KLEINGELD The hotel sector holds no secrets for Jan Kleingeld, Country Manager at Châteauform’. He was trained in Maastricht and has built his career in all four corners of Europe.

Success through interaction The hospitalit y bu siness is also a matter of collaboration. Château­form’ provides meeting rooms, of course, but above all it offers collaborative work tools. “We assist the client from the earliest stages to ensure that the event is properly planned. The aim is to provide technological tools that will properly pace the seminars and support the organizers and even the leaders. Maximum connectivity enables interaction between participants,” Jan goes on. Outstanding cover Jan strongly believes fiber optic is essential. “For this project, we started with the clients’ needs and opted in favor of one local partner to provide the Internet coverage, the audiovisual equipment and the technical support for these large residences that characterize Châteauform’. Take the very tight installation

deadlines before the Seraing opened, for instance. We would love to achieve a 76% occupation level for our rooms. Digitization vs. human contact Jan has managed to find the right balance between a corporate culture that places the human aspect center stage and the essential need for digitization. “Our sites are devoted entirely to seminars, where work and relaxation blend harmoniously and people will be able to take the time to think. Our digitization consolidates our promise to ensure total (digital) comfort for participants, as well as offering new features that will make a genuine difference. From interactive flip charts to giant screens and the ClickShare system, everything is provided for. But the aspect we advocate above all is human contact.”

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16 _ How do you turn a building into a smart building? Jochen Verboven and Emmanuel Marreel of Siemens explain

19 _ “IoT forms the basis for us

to improve our comfort and wellbeing at the office.” Proximus revamps the towers

27 _ Smartcare: restoring works of art via relevant data.

22 _ BESIX and Proximus join

forces to create smart buildings

28 _ “Data analysis gives us

insight into the way staff use the available infrastructure.” AXA Belgium is a pioneer in smart buildings

32 _ “The new building improves In Belgium 60% of non-residential buildings are more than 40 years old. So it’s high time they were renovated. Technology plays a vital role here. Smart buildings do more than just cut costs and use energy efficiently. They increase convenience and improve the health and safety of users.

the cooperation between staff and customers.” Karl Fabry, CTO at Deloitte Belgium



Comfortable, sustainable and efficient

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Digital twin

manages smart building


_ 17 SIEMENS is a global German group with activities in electronics and electrical engineering. The company works primarily in industry, the energy and building sectors and healthcare.

Optimal use

When can we talk about an intelligent building? Emanuel Marreel, Business Development & Innovation Manager at Siemens: “With a smart building, the general public thinks, first of all, of a building that monitors energy consumption in a smart way and keeps it under control. But the concept is much broader than that. A smart building also has advantages in the areas of comfort, health and security, among other things.” How do you convert a building into a smart building? Where do you start? Emanuel: “For an intelligent building you need intelligent technology. It has to be really dummy-proof and focus on the user experience. If that’s not the case, there’s a good chance that no one will use the solution. Above all, a smart building relies on connectivity. The heart of the matter consists of connected, secure applications with which the user interacts in real time.”

Where is the smart building concept being applied first? Emanuel: “Applications dealing with energy consumption are often a stepping stone. Buildings are responsible for a third of all energy consumption. That provides an area of application where you can achieve clear results immediately, certainly in our country, where 60% of non-residential buildings are over 40 years old. Twenty percent even date from before 1945. In the renovation market, IoT applications are often given the task of mapping out the energy consumption, after which it’s possible to target investments to reduce consumption.”

JOCHEN VERBOVEN has an engineering degree from KU Leuven. He has worked at Siemens for eleven years, the past three of which as Digitization Manager for Building Technologies.

EMANUEL MARREEL has an engineering degree from KU Leuven. He has worked at Siemens for seventeen years. In his current role he is Business Development & Innovation Manager for the digitization of cities, buildings, businesses, mobility and energy.

What is usually the next step after that? Jochen Verboven, Digitization Manager for Building Technologies at Siemens: “Usually it’s an exercise that focuses on increasing efficient use of the building. With smart applications you can monitor the use of meeting rooms, the availability of operating rooms, of machines, and so forth. Indoor navigation, in which an interactive application guides the visitor to a reserved parking space or a meeting room, is also part of the line-up.” What kinds of technologies are involved? Jochen: “IoT is the main feature. Besides that, it primarily involves mobile applications that allow the user to talk to the building. Many of the solutions are based on location data. Often this involves knowing where someone is located on arrival, for example in the parking lot or in the building, and then offering that person the right information.”

How can you make a new construction project a smart project, right from the beginning? Emanuel: “It’s essential that all stakeholders be involved in the project right from the beginning; the client, on the one hand, and the implementing parties on the other, including the architect, consulting firm and contractors. It’s important that the objective and the security of the intelligent aspect are both included in the process, as of the design phase.”

Focus on the user experience At the same time, you must keep an eye on the user experience. You don’t want technology that will only create more complexity. Jochen: “Right. That’s definitely an important focus today. I daresay that the user experience is not inherently on the agenda in the development and implementation of building projects today. For the architect that is certainly a focus, going forward.” A study by security company Kaspersky showed that the number of cyberattacks on connected devices from IoT solutions is sharply increasing. Does cybersecurity get adequate attention in the development of smart buildings? Jochen: “In German industry a charter of trust, which Siemens has signed, has been established in that regard. The charter includes an ethical standard on cybersecurity. But of course that is the position of the supplier, who also doesn’t want to get into difficulties. In practice it’s often a lot more complex. What if you sell or lease a building? That immediately raises quite a few questions on the possession of certain data

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and the responsibility for that data. Today there is a clear focus on securing all that data, but usually only later on in the process – so certainly not as of the design phase.” An intelligent building consumes less energy, but a major investment is also associated with the intelligent aspect. What about the ROI? Emanuel: “It is indeed sometimes a difficult exercise to calculate the return. It’s important that we also examine the whole picture in advance. So not just the construction costs, but also the maintenance.” “ In a smart building the focus is on the user experience. And yet user experience is very often not inherently on the agenda in the development of building projects today.” Jochen Verboven, Digitization Manager for Building Technologies at Siemens

Digital twin In practice the original building plan and the finished building don’t always correspond exactly, with the consequence of lower performance levels. Can the new technology currently available offer a solution for this? Jochen: “The building information management/model (BIM) is the big game-changer here. Such a BIM, by default, includes a 3D model of the project. It amounts to having the plan implemented twice at the same time. That results in a building in the physical world and an identical digital twin in the BIM.” Emanuel: “And that digital twin is more than a 3D model. It also involves providing sensors in the physical building that capture data and feed the digital model. Analysis of the data on the climate in the building – such as temperature and humidity – then allows the heating and ventilation, among other things, to be expressly tailored to the needs of the users depending on the weather and the availability of in-house energy generation, e.g. via solar panels. The issue of cloud and edge computing also comes to the fore here. Is it OK to process that data in the cloud? Or is that better and more efficiently done on a piece of in-house infrastructure? As digital twinning technology gains maturity, we will get the answers to those questions.” At the moment there is a lack of clear general guidelines. What do you anticipate the future to be in that area? Emanuel: “The market itself will reveal that. We are now seeing the first partnerships being formed such as that between Besix and Proximus.” Jochen: “De facto standards that the industry accepts will arise relatively quickly, just because they support a good way of collaborating.”

“ The digital twin is more than a 3D model. Sensors in the physical building capture data that feed the digital model.” Emanuel Marreel, Business Development & Innovation Manager at Siemens


Smart workplaces in smart buildings The Proximus towers have defined the Brussels skyline for 25 years now. Over the past two years, these offices have undergone a complete makeover, a process that will be completed by April 2019. Proximus has opted in favor of smart workplaces in smart buildings.



his new chapter in the towers’ story draws together various developments. “The new way of working is a major driver,” says Jan Joos, Director Group Internal Services at Proximus. “Among other things, for a while now people have had the opportunity to working from home. All the staff are not present in the towers at the same time – far from it. That means there is less need for office space – and hence costs are cut. At the same time, we offer our staff another, more suitable workplace, depending on the tasks they are doing, either on their own or as part of a team.”


Activity-based working Depending on the work of the various teams, Proximus sets out the working environment differently. “For instance, we have introduced shared desks (flexdesks) for everyone on many floors, including quiet rooms for tasks that require extra concentration. These workplaces are grouped together in ‘anchor zones’ for teams where close consultation and cooperation are important. The most far-reaching type of collaborative workplace are floors designed specifically with areas for phone calls or brainstorming sessions, meeting rooms for video conferences, etc. This is ideal for stimulating in-depth transversal cooperation in the context of a project with colleagues from different divisions. Of course, a special concept is also being developed for services where working together is more difficult or less efficient, such as call centers,” Jan explains. Building on IoT The towers are already equipped with a building management system (BMS) which, among other things, adjusts the temperature, humidity and ventilation in line with the use being made of the rooms. The system also monitors the internal electricity network and energy consumption. “The BMS concept has been installed across the country, in all our office buildings and the main technical buildings. From the towers, we can control this centrally.” With the help of IoT applications,

“ IoT forms the basis for us to improve our comfort and well-being at the office.” Jan Joos, Director Group Internal Services at Proximus

Proximus is gradually expanding this basic management so as to evolve towards smart workplaces in real smart buildings.

JAN JOOS studied IT at the VUB. He has worked at Proximus since 1996, for the last 10 years as Director Group Internal Services.

Sensors watch and tell “IoT forms the basis for us to improve our comfort and well-being at the office,” Jan explains. “Tests have started with sensors that count the number of people present in meeting rooms. The idea is that if there are only four people in a room designed for 20, the system can then advise moving the meeting to a small room, releasing a meeting room for a larger group.” Sensors will also shortly calculate the number of people per floor, always anonymously, of course. If the maximum number of people permitted – for safety reasons, for example – is exceeded, then the system sends a warning to the person in charge. Signboard The most important works of art that grace the corridors in the towers are being given a sensor, too. “That way, we can keep an eye on the humidity and the presence of infrared light,” says Jan. “The sensor can also send out an alarm if someone moves the work of art.” In addition, Proximus is thinking about a more automated application to assist with the arrival of visitors in the building. The next development in the pipeline is extra automation for the cash registers in the restaurants. “When choosing smart-building solutions, we always go for technology that has already acquired a certain amount of maturity. We use the solutions that we also offer our customers as an IT partner.”

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Ecosystem with IoT partners

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Simulating with digital twins “We firmly believe in the further automation of buildings,” says Jan Sonck, Head of Enterprise Innovation at Proximus. “IoT will play a key JAN SONCK role here, e.g. in the context has been working in the IT and telecoms market for 30 years of the new way of working. now. He has been Head of We are seeing the tradition- Enterprise Innovation at Proximus since 2014. al boundaries between the physical and the digital world becoming blurred.” The result will be buildings that are smart by design: not just for the organization of work areas (booking meeting rooms) and receiving guests (reserving parking), but also for security (access control), measuring use and consumption (of energy in particular) and checking to see which meeting rooms are available. “In the future, companies may well take the initiative to build themselves less often while independent, specialized providers of smart offices will hold a more prominent position in the market.” Careful analysis of the data collected from measuring points in the building provides fresh, new insights. This gives the manager a digital twin of the building: a digital version that not only helps with administration but also makes it possible to simulate the impact of certain interventions. A company can examine and fine-tune a number of scenarios before actually taking a particular step.

Now that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making an appearance, a great many more possibilities are opening up. Alex Lorette, Director Enterprise Solutions at Proximus: “The sensors provide data. With new technoloALEX LORETTE studied commercial gy, we are finding patterns in these engineering in data. Among other things, that alLouvain-la-Neuve. He has worked at lows for a more proactive mindset. Proximus for almost With IoT and smart buildings, we 20 years and, since 2013, has been really are just at the beginning.” Director Enterprise Cooperation and co-creation are Solutions. essential to come up with new applications quickly. “Various parties combine their expertise in an ecosystem and that means they can make progress far faster. We work on open platforms, where we develop services with project partners and customers. In this way, design thinking is also an indispensable element in the future of the smart building.”



In their respective areas of expertise, both BESIX and Proximus act as leading players in the country: BESIX as a construction group and Proximus as an IT service provider and teleoperator. The two companies are joining forces to create smart buildings – a partnership in which co-creation and open innovation are key ingredients.

Smart building

based on an ecosystem of partners

RIK VANDENBERGHE studied commercial engineering in Leuven. He pursued a career in banking and rose through the ranks to become CEO of ING Belgium. He has been CEO of BESIX since 2017.

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ast summer, Proximus and BESIX entered into a strategic partnership, shaking hands on a collaboration aimed at jointly offering an innovative solution for smart buildings. Optimal user experience occupies center stage in the four areas that Proximus and BESIX are involved in: hospitality, workplace, efficiency in management and energy, and safety. The cooperation is based on the complementary character of the two companies. BESIX is experienced in the implementation and management of complex building projects, while Proximus boasts wide-ranging expertise in the kind of innovative technology that finds its way into smart buildings, such as IoT applications, the digital workplace, security solutions, and so on. The aim of the partnership is to combine the strengths of each company with the purpose of putting smart-building solutions into practice in specific projects.


DOMINIQUE LEROY studied commercial engineering at the Solvay Business School. She worked at Unilever Belgium for 20 years, four years of which were as managing director. In 2012 she moved to Proximus, where she has held the post of CEO since 2014.

How did the partnership come into being? Dominique Leroy, CEO at Proximus: “We’ve already acquired a great deal of experience with solutions for smart buildings, but we have constantly found that applying the concept within an existing environment is often a complex business. To make the most of a smart building’s potential, you had better take its purpose into account from the very start of the building project, even before the first plans are drawn up. We were looking for a partner with whom we could share that vision, while at the same time being able to bring our expertise to the fore. We rely heavily upon our own experience as a real estate owner and we try to commercialize relevant innovations. BESIX is the ideal partner because of their yearslong experience in the construction industry and their excellent insight into the needs of the customer.” Rik Vandenberghe, CEO at BESIX: “We had been playing with the idea of doing more in the field of smart buildings for some time. That was how we came to knock on Proximus’ door. Look, we’re two robust companies with a solid Belgian grounding. There’s no question that establishing a collaborative partnership focusing on the subject of smart buildings is a


good idea. We are both extremely committed to innovation, and we both value open innovation. That shared mindset saw to it that we arrived at a partnership quite quickly.” How do you see the concept of smart building developing from here on in? Rik: “Although it’s a fairly recent concept, the trend is now clearly there for all to see. Actually the idea is quite simple: you add intelligence to a building. It has everything to do with the general evolution in the use of technology. Everyone has by now become familiar with the advantages and user-friendliness of technology, and these days that’s what ­u sers also expect of a building. At the same time there is the issue of a building’s carbon footprint. A building causes substantial CO2 emissions, but by using new technology we can reduce those emissions. That’s another important part of the story.” Dominique: “We observe a growing complexity in the needs of real estate investors, operators and users. We believe that technology can be a vital enabler to meet those demands. Genuinely creating value for the customer is crucial in managing a digital ecosystem where different partners cooperate and provide integrated solutions. The partnership with BESIX is a fitting example.”

Flagship building How are Proximus and BESIX jointly going to respond to these expectations? Dominique: “The first project in our cooperation is the building of the new headquarters of BESIX Nederland in Dordrecht. There we will show how we incorporate the concept of

BESIX is the largest construction group in Belgium. The company has a history stretching back more than 100 years, and has grown into a world player. BESIX’s projects include the European Parliament in Brussels, Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the highest tower in the world) and the Al Wakrah Stadium for the 2022 Football World Cup in Qatar. BESIX has 15,000 employees.

smart building in the plans from the design phase and how BESIX’s employees and visitors will derive benefit from that.” Rik: “It was an obvious course of action to work out a proof of concept in a building that we will be using ourselves. We are turning it into a genuine flagship building, which will act as a European reference for what we can carry through in conjunction with Proximus in the field of sustainability, energy-efficiency and safety.” Is it easier to create a smart building in a new-build or can it also be done in the context of a renovation? Rik: “It obviously works much more efficiently if you can have the concept incorporated into the design from the get-go. But you can just as effectively turn a building into a smart building through renovation. In fact, you can often achieve a host of good results even with minor renovations.”

Complementary expertise How does your specific project approach work? Who does what? Dominique: “Connectivity is our greatest strength. We provide for glass fiber, not just up to the building but also in the building, seeing to it that there is network connection throughout the building. A modern building is full of steel, concrete and insulation. So we have to ensure connectivity everywhere in the building, both 4G and Wi-Fi. Then we trace out the whole IoT map. We equip the building with sensors, which supply the data that serve as raw material for the actual smart-building applications. We also offer solutions for staff and visitor access control and security, applications for the monitoring and control of energy consumption, and so forth.” Rik: “In this way, the complementary nature of our cooperation clearly comes to the fore. Through our projects we want to contribute to a better world, with buildings that offer functionality, comfort and energy-efficiency. The solutions supplied by Proximus help us to fulfill those objectives. We actively strive for buildings with lower energy consumption; clients are asking for support and guidance in the transition to renewable energy, in gaining greater

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flexibility in their own energy production, and so on. That’s a challenging development for construction. We’re convinced that the best way forward is to join forces so as to adopt an end-to-end approach to these issues.”


New concepts


In what way is new technology having an effect on smart building? Rik: “It’s about more than just bricks and bytes. The user also has a major impact on the success of the smart building.”


Dominique: “That’s right. A smart building is only really a success when there is also added value for the people living in it or the companies operating in it. New technology – we can think of artificial intelligence and machine learning – will clearly help make the difference in that respect. Take the electric cars that employees use to get to the office. Smart technology will determine what the best time is for the battery to be charged. But these cars likewise constitute an extra source of energy and at a particular time the building can draw power from these batteries. Smart applications will thus constantly keep the building’s energy consumption in balance.” Rik: “In the new headquarters of BESIX Nederland we are now providing a solution with batteries in which surplus energy is stored and subsequently made accessible through the network whenever it is needed. The end result is a building with as low an energy consumption as possible, in which an application based on artificial intelligence closely monitors the balance between energy production, consumption and storage.” This example clearly illustrates how the smart building relies on data collection and analysis, whereupon the right measures are taken in response to those data. Dominique: “That’s right. It also shows that in the context of the smart building we have to handle those data very carefully. In that respect we espouse the same values as BESIX. When we receive data in the context of smart-building applications, we always do so anonymously, using encryption and so forth.”

Rik Vandenberghe, CEO of BESIX



The good example Do you expect more regulations to be introduced in this field? Rik: “First and foremost we want to lead the way and we want to keep that position in the field of open innovation. If future rules or standards are put in place, we’ll be prepared for them. By being at the forefront we’re also helping to give shape to things. We’re creating the future.” Dominique: “Just like BESIX, we at Proximus are also putting forward a number of best practices. It is an approach that enables you to be perfectly in sync with reality, but at the same time remain dynamic enough too. However, a legislative framework is rather static in nature and as a result can sometimes be a restraining factor. By supplying the good examples ourselves, we at Proximus will undoubtedly be able to provide some leverage.”

S M A R T C A R E _ M E A S U R E S H U M I D I T Y, T E M P E R AT U R E A N D L I G H T _ 2 7



Even works of art generate data IoT applications are essential for companies that want to work more efficiently and grow faster. Smartcare is an innovative IoT solution that accurately monitors environmental factors and provides continuous data. The organization IPARC (International Platform for Art Research and Conservation) already makes frequent use of the solution for the purpose of professional art conservation.

WAT IS SMARTCARE? - IoT solution based on sensors that monitor parameters - Measures humidity, light intensity, temperature and movement - Data are available in a personalized application

For more information about Smartcare, scan this page and watch the IPARC customer testimonial.

Smartcare is an IoT solution based on sensors that can monitor a variety of parameters and filter relevant data from them. For instance, IPARC uses the application for round-the-clock surveillance of artworks and movable heritage. The application measures humidity, temperature, light and the proximity of visitors to works of art. These data are continuously available in a user-friendly format via a handy, personalized web page. In a joint effort with the collection’s owner, the art restorers then take targeted action where needed. Speeding up the time to market The sensors in the device are connected to the Proximus LoRa network, so the exchange of information uses little power and benefits from triple encryption. This means that Smartcare is an easy and secure solution. In addition to art conservation, Smartcare can be applied to all sorts of sectors. For example, this technology can be used to

monitor crops in the agricultural industry, or create a perfect working environment in offices, or for the surveillance of goods during transport. IPARC, SME of the Year The International Platform for Art Research and Conservation cvba (IPARC) is a multidisciplinary knowledge structure that provides both public and private collections with restoration and conservation services. With the department for preventive conservation they provide services for collections, offering both Smartcare and climate-controlled art storage.

Automatic temperature regulation in three phases The brand-new smart building of the VLAS (Kortrijk, Kuurne, Lendelede) police zone creates a pleasant working environment. FRANK MAES Project Coordinator, C3H (Drie Hofsteden police department)

In early December 2018, the Vlas police zone moved to its new building in Minister De Taeyelaan in Kortrijk. The three separate police stations in Kortrijk, Kuurne and Lendelede were brought together in one smart building. Frank Maes, project coordinator: “The temperature is adjusted automatically in three phases. When no one is at the office, we switch to the night temperature. When the first person arrives in the morning, we go to the standby temperature and after an initial period of half an hour, we go to the comfort temperature. We use sensors for this. If no movement is detected in a particular office, then the comfort temperature will not be on.” Extra oxygen or not? “We also work with an automatic ventilation system. If too much CO2 is detected in a meeting room because there are a lot of people, then our ventilation system supplies extra oxygen. This system works with climate ceilings (radiant panels), with warm pipes in winter and cold ones in summer.”



ntil 2017, AXA Belgium rented a building in Watermael-Boitsfort, on the outskirts of Brussels. They thought carefully before moving to the city center. “The idea of adopting another approach arose back in 2012,” says Raf Boterdaele, Head of Building & Facilities Management at AXA. “We were looking for a solution that would benefit the mobility of staff in the long term.” They chose the old Engie Electrabel head office in place du Trône. The historical part of the building – which once served as a hotel – was retained, the second wing underwent a thorough renovation and a third section consisted of a new building, with a horizontal rather than a vertical structure. This creates more interaction among the staff.


The result is a building with a large horizontal surface area – no less than 50,000 square meters altogether, of which 35,000 is for the offices and the central forum with the company restaurant. “It’s a modern office building but one with character, with a story,” Raf says. “And above all, the location provides huge added value in terms of mobility. The starting point in the design process was to make the building inaccessible by car but easily accessible by public transport. Central Station is within walking distance. There are metro and bus stops literally in front of the door. In addition, we’ve provided a large bicycle parking area, including facilities to take a shower after your ride in to work.” A suitable space for every job AXA Belgium switched to the new way of working back in 2014, with staff given the option of working from home as well. “We’ve followed this line firmly in the new building,” Raf explains. “For the layout of the offices, we adopted the principle of the activity-based workplace.” This means that the various areas are geared to the type of work. So there are meeting rooms of various sizes, rooms for work that requires extra concentration, spaces to hold informal gatherings, telephone conversations, brainstorming sessions, various bubbles – these are small rooms with three chairs and a small table – dynamic and smart rooms, etc.

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AXA is an international insurance company and asset manager with a 100 million clients and 160,000 employees in 62Â countries. In Belgium, AXA Belgium has 2.9 million clients, 3,500 employees and 3,200 brokers. In 2017, AXA Belgium posted an operating profit of â‚Ź357 million.

A smart At AXA Belgium, a smart building is one link in a greater whole.


The insurance company has gathered everything together at its new head office in the center of Brussels:


a new way of working,

a new underpinned by smart technology in a smart and easily accessible building.

work culture

For this project AXA Belgium received a nomination for IFMA Facility Project of the Year.


Above all, AXA Belgium was looking for a solution that would catch on. At the first NWOW location in the Marnix building, the company had seven workstations per 10 employees. Now there are just six. 1,540 workstations are provided for the 2,600 or so staff members who come to the office in Brussels. “The ratio of six to 10 instantly makes a difference of a few thousand square meters of office space,” says Raf. “The impact on the budget is huge. But, of course, it has to remain workable.” So AXA Belgium provided an IoT solution in the building to closely monitor the use of offices, workstations and meeting rooms. Spacewell (formerly MCS Solutions) worked out a solution based on the Proximus LoRa network. In this way, the IoT applications are kept fully separate from the AXA Belgium IT environment and there can be no impact on n ­ etwork security. New insights In practical terms, 1,850 sensors have been installed in the building which register the snapshot occupancy of workstations and meeting rooms. Every six minutes, they send a report to the IoT platform via the LoRa network. “Analyzing this data gives us an insight into how staff use the available infrastructure,” Raf explains. “That enables us to further optimize the way the building functions.” In addition, there are around 50 ‘comfort sensors’. They measure the temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, among other things. “The comfort sensors collect data that the IoT solution puts online straightaway,” says Sven Toelen, Global Marketing Director at Spacewell. “So the application provides a form of quality control of the technical installations in the building. The reports immediately show whether the heating and ventilation system is working properly.” A third part of the IoT process will record the use of the bathroom facilities so that AXA Belgium can gear the cleaning of these areas better to the actual needs of staff, among other things.

RAF BOTERDAELE gained a degree in bio-engineering from the University of Ghent. After 13 years as Manager Buildings & Facilities at Mercedes-Benz BeLux, he moved to the role of Head of Building & Facilities Management at AXA Belgium.

SVEN TOELEN has a degree in commercial engineering from Antwerp University. He works as Global Marketing Director at Spacewell.

“ We gear the building to the staff. We measure the use of the workstations and meeting rooms via IoT.” Raf Boterdaele, Head of Building & Facilities Management at AXA Belgium

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HOW IT WORKS 1. D ata is collected anonymously by wireless sensors.

The combination of renovation and new building enabled AXA Belgium to integrate the digital component right from the start of the project. “Everything is digitally equipped,” says Raf. “There are LED lights everywhere, there is a motion detection system and we achieved the internationally accepted BREEAM certificate for sustainability.” The reduction in the surface area that we needed is the single biggest environmental parameter. Fewer offices automatically means less consumption. “The project continues to evolve all the time. Step by step we are collecting more data, so that we can make better analyses to optimize processes.”

2. D ata is sent over the LoRa network to the gateways. The LoRa network has its own open frequency which doesn’t interfere with your local network.

3. T he raw sensor data is gathered in sensor hubs from where it is sent to the cloud.

4. T he cloud aggregates the data in a structured way (pre-processing) before it is sent to the COBUNDU platform.

5. T he COBUNDU platform processes this data and combines it with other data sources. Additionally, the platform monitors the health of the sensors (battery and signal strength).

Cultural change Reporting remains the most important criterion. “We aim to obtain as much useful information as possible from the data that we collect and analyze and this, in turn, provides the input for new initiatives.” Among other things, AXA Belgium is thinking about developing an app for staff that combines everything: booking a meeting room, consulting the restaurant menu, reporting a technical issue, etc. “For the staff, it really was a huge change,” Raf goes on. “They work fully digitally now, but autonomously as well. Results and trust are more important than the number of hours worked. In this way, the new building underpins an important cultural change as well.”

6. E asy-to-understand dashboards provide the insights needed for informed decisionmaking. Occupants get workplace guidance through various channels (app, kiosk, Outlook, room display) combining real-time occupancy data visualization with reservation capabilities.

Which network fits your IoT project?

Proximus online

We connect more and more appliances and discover new Internet of Things applications that improve your company processes. Read all about it and go to You’re ready for tomorrow.

Scan this page with the VEEEW app and discover the video of AXA Belgium.


3in1 flexibility, mobility and sustainability

spaces are available: from a small room for a personal conversation to an auditorium that holds 199 ­people.

Two years ago, Deloitte Belgium moved to the brand-new Gateway building at Brussels Airport. Gateway expresses the firm’s vision when it comes to mobility and a sustainable society. DELOITTE

Curious to see Deloitte’s site? Scan this page with the VEEEW app and find out all about it in the video.

The new building was designed with special attention to employees’ well-being. For example, it offers services such as the canteen, the Tarmac Café and a fitness area, and uses ergonomic furniture. “We offer an inspiring setting for our employees, c­ lients and visitors,” explains Karl Fabry, CTO of Deloitte Belgium. “That was also what we had in mind for the central atrium, with the work of art called ‘Stilthouse’ by Arne Quinze. We identify with the themes that Quinze works with: dialogue, sustainability and diversity.” The building substantially improves the collaborative dynamics between employees and clients. Various kinds of

is an international group of professional service providers in the areas of accountancy, auditing, consulting and financial advice. In 2018, Deloitte, with its 286,000 employees worldwide, reported a revenue of €43.2 billion..

KARL FABRY studied electromechanics and holds an MBA. He has held various positions with Deloitte, both in Europe and worldwide. Since 2018 he has been CTO of the Belgian branch of Deloitte.

Inspiring setting Technology also plays an important part, of course, in supporting better collaboration. Thus, digital signage is provided at reception, in the atrium and on every floor. For example, Deloitte posts its welcome message in the atrium for clients who come to visit. Commuters can consult the train schedules there as well. With follow-me printing, employees can easily use the nearest ­p rinter.

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“ We have a space where employees can invite clients to test new, innovative digital applications. In our role as consultants, we wish in this way to do our bit for sustainable development and better mobility.” Karl Fabry, CTO at Deloitte Belgium

Karl: “And then there is The Greenhouse, a space where employees can invite clients to test new, innovative digital applications. In our role as consultants, we wish in this way to do our part for sustainable development and better mobility.” Much more than wireless connectivity At the Gateway building, Deloitte opted for an innovative, fully managed Wi-Fi solution. “This involves much more than just a wireless connection to the company’s network,” Karl notes. “We use the Wi-Fi network in other ways as well. Via a sensor, we measure the number of people using a given area, such as the restaurant or a floor.” The installation is based on a central wireless controller and 450 access points that communicate with each other. “The access points exchange information about the quality of the signal coverage, for instance, and the number of connections. This allows them to optimize the connection for the benefit of roaming devices throughout the network.” The use of new technologies further emphasizes the importance of data. “We thoroughly test every new app that we wish to use in order to take stock of any risks that may arise. If confidential client data are involved, we go through a series of security checks in any case, such as data encryption, multifactor authentication and penetration tests.” A second aspect of our approach has to do with privacy and confidentiality. Naturally, Deloitte complies with the GDPR legislation. Only once an app is given the green light across the line will the firm start using it.

INNOVATIVE IN EVERY SENSE Both the location at the airport and the design of the building are eye-catching. And that’s not all. “Gateway is a statement. The building demonstrates how we are reducing our carbon footprint and committing ourselves to enhancing mobility,” according to Karl Fabry, CTO at Deloitte Belgium. With Gateway, Deloitte is replacing four older office buildings. The move itself has enabled the company to reduce its CO2 emissions by 40%. This was partly the result of the use of free cooling – a technique that uses outside air to cool the interior. This allows Deloitte to make considerable savings on the use of mechanical cooling.


Technology makes life easier. Deloitte’s employees use the same applications on their laptop, tablet and smartphone, thus enjoying greater flexibility, including when they work remotely. When they are heading for the office, the Get To Work app shows them the most efficient route. The app helps employees not only with navigation, but also with the choice of the most suitable means of transport (car, public transportation, bike) and provides information about the availability of parking.

Gateway is easily accessible by train and bus. “We are increasingly involved in international projects. That, too, has now become that much easier. Our office is just a few minutes’ drive from the airport’s departure lounge.” There is parking for bikes in the building, along with spaces for carpools and charging stations for electric cars. “At the same time, not everyone has to come to Zaventem,” says Karl. “We have 12 regional offices dotted around the country. This enables employees to plan their movements conveniently. Many employees also work on location at clients’ premises.”

Beyond technology “It is important that we devote a lot of attention to the user experience,” says Karl. “Proximus helps us look beyond just the technology.” If a firm wants to lend optimal support to the user experience, it has to look at the entire technological issue from beginning to end, including all mutually interdependent systems and applications. “It is with this in mind that we continue to invest in improving the work environment and work experience of our employees,” Karl continues. “Today – and in the future – technology will play a role more crucial than ever.”



The environment in which we work is changing rapidly. This is due to changes in the market, such as the altering needs of customers, but also wider trends such as globalization and digitization. All this has quite an impact. Employees have to develop new skills, while managers have to adopt a suitable leadership style. The digital workplace is very much part of this context. But the challenge is not only to offer the right technology, but also to ensure that staff use the tools and benefit from them. Therefore, close cooperation between IT and HR is essential. Persona-based segmentation – a marketing technique – can be a good starting point to support each role in the company with the right tools and offer everyone a smart, secure and flexible workplace. The digital workplace not only calls for a new way of working, but also for a new way of thinking. It’s all about adapting the corporate strategy, vision and culture – including HR policy – to the new needs.

“ Technology can’t be something you just play with. After all, it plays a crucial role in the continued success of the organization and the staff, to be able to serve customers better.” Jan Van Acoleyen, Chief HR Officer at Proximus

Scan this page with the VEEEW app and read the full report of the round table discussion and discover how HR professionals support the digital workplace.

Belgian companies discuss the digital workplace

A fitting solution for every profile

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KARL BOLLE Head of HR Belux at Securitas

KARINE VANDENBERGHE Corporate HR Director at KPMG Belgium

JOERI VELDEMAN Head of HR Benelux, Austria and Switzerland at Nokia

LAURENS DE MEYERE Service Delivery Expert IT-End User Experience at Novartis Pharma

“ You can see our internal platform as a sort of internal Facebook, where staff share their experiences. It creates an extra link among staff, as well.”

“ That’s one of the challenges in the context of the war for talent, it’s not just about using new tools, but job content is changing fast, as well.”

“ At Nokia, everyone can work at home, but regular contact with colleagues at the offices remains important.”

“ Again and again, we have to weigh up what we digitize and what we support with personal contact.”

SACHA DENYS Regional Head of HR & Corporate Communications at PSA

MIKE DAUTZENBERG HR Director at H.Essers

JEROEN MINOODT Global HR Shared Service Director at Esko

ALAIN DE DAUW VP HR Airtec Division at Atlas Copco Airpower

“ It is important, but it does not always go without saying, that people understand technology and innovation well enough to see all the potential opportunities. Top executives often have insufficient understanding of technologies to lead their organization through innovation and automation.”

“ Our drivers have an onboard computer and all sorts of other tools, but it can create a distance, as well. We have to make sure we provide the right support, so that they feel involved.”

“It is important to ensure the right combination across the departments. And then you have to make sure that digital technology is actually used in practice.”

“ Homeworking is not exclusively suitable for office workers. Some manual workers are also permitted to work at home, depending on their job. You have to set out a clear policy and believe in people – until you can trust them.”


What will change in the next five years?

ENTERPRISES WILL REVOLUTIONIZE APPS AND APPS WILL REVOLUTIONIZE ENTERPRISES By 2022 about 90% of apps will be built on microservices, which improve the ability to design, debug, update and leverage thirdparty code, providing applications that are much more complex. In turn, they will allow an organization to evolve its technology stack, giving it the means to install even better IT infrastructure. Not to mention that 35% of all production apps will be cloud native, making production speeds faster.

DIGITAL INNOVATION WILL ACCELERATE IMMEASURABLY In the years spanning between 2019 and 2023, approximately 500 million new logical apps will be created, which is equal to the number of apps built over the past 40 years.

SECURITY WILL BE REDEFINED By 2022, 50% of servers will encrypt data both at rest (inactive data stored on any device) and in motion (active data in transit). More than 50% of security alerts will be automatically resolved by AI, and no less than 150 million people will have a digital identity embedded in a blockchain-based system.

International Data Corporation (IDC) published its worldwide IT industry 2019 top 10 predictions for the next five years. What’s new and what will change? Here you get an overview of the five most important trends.

FRESH INFLOW OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPERS WITH NEW SKILLS In 2024, a new class of professional developers will expand the current developer population by 30%. They will be able to produce code without custom scripting, therefore accelerating each company’s digital transformation.

AI WILL BE THE NEW UI 2024 is the year in which one-third of today’s screen-based apps will be fully automated and AI-enabled. The user interface (UI) will be maintained by artificial intelligence and as early as 2022, 30% of companies will engage with their customers using conversational speech technology.



Those who follow the world economy may not expect it in these turbulent times, but even today, there are certain Belgian companies that stand out. They are successfully adapting their way of working by using the latest technology. Whether it’s drones, sensors or smart badges, high-tech companies Ardo, Easyfairs and Melexis are putting Belgium firmly on the map.


Supply chain length is the big challenge


Common sense. That’s what turned Ardo into a world-class player. The West Flemish company – named Business of the Year 2018 – combines that attitude with entrepreneurship, innovation and a commitment to sustainability.

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ut even thoug h Ardo is a player on the world stage, it remains an authentically West Flemish company. We can deduce that from the warm welcome offered to us by CEO Rik Jacob. Everything exudes the pride of the company, its respect for the product and for the hard work of its employees. Jacob is the type of business leader who sets great store by ‘just doing it’.


How do you look back on being awarded as Business of the Year? Rik Jacob, CEO of Ardo: “With great pleasure. We have enjoyed the title for a full year. It has already given us a great deal of additional visibility.” What do you owe this title to, do you think? Rik: “I see it as a sign of appreciation for the path we have followed in the past few years. In 2015 Ardo merged with Dujardin Foods (the two frozen food companies of the seven Haspeslagh nephews), together with VLM Foods we made an important acquisition in Canada, we invest heavily in sustainability and innovation and, at the same time, we continue to achieve growth in both turnover and income.”

With the help of investment programs Today in Europe Ardo has a 20% market share of its segment. Some 40% of the production originates in Belgium. Is there still room in our country for sustained growth in Ardo’s production capacity? Rik: “Future growth lies not in increased capacity, but rather in raising productivity and yield. We continue to invest in better frozen food lines and more warehousing space. And we are not only doing this in our own country. There are also investment programs underway in France and Spain, among others. Ardooie is right at the heart of the West Flemish vegetable-growing area. How important are those roots to the success of the company? Rik: “West Flanders has various assets that are essential to our sector. We have a long tradition of growing vegetables, ideal agricultural land, well-structured agrarian companies, a temperate maritime climate and hard-working, flexible workers. With Ardo, we very soon turned our focus to export. All the elements were

Rik Jacob, CEO of Ardo

in place for that activity as well, including the good logistic location of Flanders. The proximity to specialized suppliers of frozen food technology and automation was also a distinct advantage.”

ARDO is a family firm based in Ardooie, in West Flanders that has grown into a worldclass player in the frozen vegetables, fruit and herbs market. The group has 21 sites in nine countries. Most of its activities are centered in Europe, but Ardo also has a pineapple processing plant in Costa Rica and runs a sales office in Canada. Every year, the group sells 860,000 tons of vegetables, fruit and herbs, worth around €1 billion in turnover. Ardo has a market share of 20% in Europe, which makes it the largest player in its segment. Ardo’s clientele includes retail customers (under its own name and private label), the food service sector and the food industry.

It is no secret that Ardo is now looking towards the North American market. What are your plans in that region? Rik: “We see the same potential there as in Europe. We intend to grow significantly. Our acquisition in Canada follows that model, because it can create an opening into the American market. Thanks to the takeover, we have a valuable sales network and the requisite expertise, for instance, in the complex areas of customs and good legislation. At the same time, we realize that the market segments in the US are very different than in Europe. The food service market, for example, is very important there. In addition, we also have to handle logistics very differently. The distances are greater, which means that there is greater need for transportation and temporary ­storage.”


DRONES KEEP AN EYE ON THINGS Ardo is the Business of the Year for 2018 and combines entrepreneurship with innovation and sustainability. For example, the West Flemish company uses drones to monitor fields from the air. With the images, they can evaluate the suitability of the land for agriculture. With the data and drone images, Ardo determines where additional irrigation or pesticides are needed. What’s more, the information that comes from the drones is used in the tractor’s GPS. In this way, growers receive guidance on sowing or crop spraying.

What do you consider the biggest challenge for your market? Rik: “The sector is evolving very quickly. Today we are working with centrally controlled, integrated and connected production lines. The big challenge lies in the length – expressed in time – of the supply chain. In December we negotiate volumes and prices with the agricultural companies, but it is only in the first half of the following year that they deliver the vegetables. Our customers, however, purchase vegetables from us all year round. That makes for a complex process of planning and forecasting. Peas, for example, are harvested during only eight weeks of the year. But we must ensure (after the harvest is over) that we have a supply that enables us to satisfy our customers until the following harvest.”

Drones and satellite images Is there a role here for new technologies? Heidi Goovaerts, Group Marketing & Communications Director: “For sure. We are in close contact with agricultural businesses. We guide them in their choice of seeds, we offer guidelines regarding sowing and we

RIK JACOB is the CEO of Ardo. Previously, he was the CEO of Dujardin Foods, the frozen vegetable company that merged with Ardo in 2015.

HEIDI GOOVAERTS studied economics and gained an MBA from Antwerp University. Since 2001 she has been the head of the marketing department at Ardo.

“ Twice a week we lead groups of 30 to 40 visitors around the factory. We see this as part of our employer branding, since it is not always easy to attract new employees with a technical profile.” Heidi Goovaerts, Group Marketing & Communications Director

monitor the crop right up to harvest. New technology helps us do this. For instance, we use drones to monitor fields from the air. The images help us determine where extra irrigation or pesticides may be required. What’s more, the information from the drones is used for the tractor’s GPS, so that the grower knows exactly where some intervention is needed. We use satellite images in a similar way.” How does Ardo use technology in the office? Rik: “In the first half of the year, we began building a new head office. We decided to do so in Ardooie, in order to stay close to the production site. Various technologies play a key role in the new office building. It will be an energy-neutral structure that uses heat and cooling generated by the production arm.” Heidi: “There will be an openplan area for 200 employees, along with several spaces designed for specific activities, such as meetings, phone calls or study. Twice a week, we lead groups of 30 to 40 visitors through the factory. We are planning an experiential space for them as well in the new building. We see this as part of our employer branding, since it is not always easy to attract new employees with a technical profile.”


GROWERS RECEIVE PURIFIED WASTE WATER With European funding and in collaboration with Interreg, Ardo has built a basin for 150,000 cubic meters of water. This is for purified industrial water from the Ardooie factory. Via a network of 32 kilometers of underground pipes, Ardo makes the water available to local growers. They use the water to irrigate a total of around 500 hectares of agricultural land.

Accompanying growers How does Ardo contribute to a sustainable and greener agriculture? Rik: “Our products remain far below the maximum residue limits of pesticides imposed by Europe. But we want to do even better. We offer the growers expert guidance in this regard. By planting vegetables too close together, for example, diseases may spread. A perfect cropping intensity prevents such problems and thus reduces the use of pesticides. As a result, we have already succeeded in keeping 70% of our peas entirely residue-free. We also have various plans involving energy and water. Half of the electricity we use comes from a biomethanization plant that we feed with plant by-products such as peels, cutting waste, etc. Frozen fruit and vegetables thus contribute to sustainability. The waste stays with us – rather than being transported to the consumer – and produces green energy.”

Drones as support for emergency services In some difficult circumstances, drones are the only option. “They can be deployed quickly and they are a lot cheaper. Ecologically it’s great too, because drones are far more environmentally friendly. We are mainly a training center. In Belgium, you are obliged to follow a training course and we give these courses, to teach people to fly drones, a little like a driving school,” says Elwin Van Herck, CEO of Noordzee Drones. “We make sure that the people in command receive the camera images from the drone on site in real time. That way, they can always make an accurate decision based on real-time data. So a good mobile network is very important to us. Over the years, we have noticed that the Proximus 4G network is very reliable, even in difficult circumstances,” says Tersec CEO Tom De Jaeger. Tersec develops and integrates emergency systems. They provide a drone feed and GPS coordinates in real time. This allows emergency services to respond more quickly and more efficiently, wherever they are.

Scan this page with the VEEEW app and discover in the video how drones fulfill a supportive role for helicopter units.


Digitization is not the end of trade fairs What is the secret behind the success of the Enterprise of the Year 2018? Is it its view of technology, its employees, or maybe both? Marleen Vanhee, Group CMO of Easyfairs, explains.

A winning combination A great story deserves an award, and that’s precisely why Easyfairs has been rewarded with the top prize for Enterprise of the Year in the French-speaking part of the country. A fantastic example of entrepreneurship that has its roots in university life. “The adventure began over 30 years ago in the student quarters of our Group CEO Eric Everard in Louvain-La-Neuve. Today we’re an international enterprise, active in 17 countries, that has doubled its revenue in the space of five years,” clarifies Marleen Vanhee, Group CMO of Easyfairs. Since then the company has combined good management, innovation and talent with impressive financial results and new opportunities for expansion, year after year. Reinvesting 80% of the profit With its profit, Easyfairs makes strategic choices focused on the future. The focus is completely on the long term, and so most of their profit goes toward optimizing operational efficiency, expansion, digital technology

EASYFAIRS IN FIGURES: • 18th in the worldwide top 20 of trade fair organizers • 1,198,000 visitors annually • 28,455 active exhibitors • 700 events • €160 million in revenue • Operates in 17 countries • 752 employees

MARLEEN VANHEE Easyfairs is preceded by Roularta Media Group on her CV. In 2018 Marleen Vanhee gave her position at Easyfairs an international impetus by becoming Group CMO of Easyfairs.

and talent. “To move forward you must innovate, and thus dare to invest. Our strategy consists of reinvesting 80% of our profit. Aside from the strategic acquisitions and launches at home and abroad and the digitization of our products, we are primarily aiming to automate our processes at the international level.” The development of talent As befits future-oriented companies, Easyfairs opts for ongoing development of its talent. For this, the 750 employees of the company can count on the Easyfairs Academy, where talent is rewarded by the UFI (the international association for the event industry). “Easyfairs Academy is a program for talent development where we offer a combination of F2F learning and an online platform. The intention is to give our employees the opportunity to optimally develop their talents on a permanent basis. That contributes to greater motivation,” Marleen explains. “By exchanging best practices, they learn from their international colleagues.” Between the digital and the human The development of digital products is also very important to Easyfairs. “A fine example is EasyGo, a digital service pack-

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ArtBrussels, one of the top cultural events in Europe.

age for exhibitors that already accounts for 3% of our income, but it is expected that this will increase to 10% in 2021. Exhibitors get the opportunity to get more from their participation in a personalized way. For example, they can choose to put the focus on visibility or on lead generation and, here too, we optimize the user-friendliness by means of a digital platform for exhibitors, My Easyfairs.” The company tailors these technologies to the visitors as best as possible so that they don’t hinder, but support, the course of business; for example, the use of smart badges with NFC chips. “Visitors get a badge with an NFC chip that makes contact with a reader at the exhibitor. At the end of their visit they get an email with information about all the exhibitors they have selected, and the exhibitors receive the data of the visitors who have shown interest. Digitization is not the end of trade fairs; it stimulates the need for personal meetings. Our carbon footprint is optimized too, because there are fewer folders and brochures in circulation on the floor at the fairs. That is and remains one of our goals too, of course.” Big data and big evolution Trade fairs are the source of a profusion of data. Too much? “I don’t think that we can collect too much data, as long as we use it in a relevant way to serve our communities. The fact that big data is now a hot topic doesn’t mean that we weren’t already highly data-driven in the past. But today the technology and data science techniques enable us to go much further in this. Always observing the current legislation, of course, and with the focus on relevance for our customers,” stresses the CMO.

How to reinvent an organization? Be brave, work differently With his brand-new book Brave New Work, Aaron Dignan delivers in-depth advice on how companies can eliminate longheld traditions and bureaucracy in favor of more adaptable and human work. With a title that curiously interplays with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the book explains how to transform teams, departments and businesses from the inside out in a world of huge scientific developments. It offers tips and tactics to update a company’s operating system and provides the insights business leaders need to be brave and face technological disruption with an open mind. No-nonsense problem-solving Using real life cases of companies at the forefront of organizational transformation, Aaron presents a 304-page book of no-nonsense explanation about how you can reinvent your own company. Written with the same clarity he employs when talking at conferences, this book does not dwell on theoretical arguments but gives honest and clear-cut guidance invaluable to any business.

AARON DIGNAN is an American businessman and writer. He was CEO of Undercurrent from 2007 to 2015. He is also founder of The Ready, a New York based company that specializes in transforming companies by offering professional advice and workshops. He is the author of Game Frame: Using Games as a Strategy for Success (2011), a book that explains how games are a powerful way to influence and change behavior in any setting and can help a business to reach its full potential.


A new product every month


Françoise Chombar and Veerle Lozie: one is ICT Personality of the Year 2018, the other CIO of the Year 2014. Both women hold a top position at semiconductor developer Melexis. “Diversity is in the DNA of our organization and also the driver of our product innovation.”

MELEXIS is a world-class player in semiconductor sensors for the automobile industry, and from its core com­petency – making microchips – has further expanded its portfolio of sensors, driver ICs and wireless devices for integration into smart devices, home automation and industrial and medical applications. They are being incorporated in the next generation of products and systems that improve safety, sustainability, efficiency and comfort. Melexis has some 1,600 employees in 20 locations across 14 countries.

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protectionism slow economic growth, is now becoming reality. It is a difficult period that we will have to get through, but difficult times can be fruitful too.”

When a prize like ICT Personality goes to a woman, that fact is often news in itself. Justifiably, do you think? Françoise Chombar, CEO: “Actually I find it very normal for a woman to have a top position in a technology company; four of the 10 executives at Melexis are women – including Veerle – and on the board the ratio is even three out of five. Researchers from Hasselt University once determined, with amazement, that our company is one of the few to be gender-neutral.” What do you do to achieve that gender neutrality? Veerle Lozie, CIO: “Nothing special, actually. We have no special incentives or programs specifically for women. Apparently striving for gender neutrality is unconsciously part of our company culture.” But a strong conviction does lie at the basis, says Françoise. “The three founders of Melexis believe that diversity really works. Technical and non-technical employees, over 50 nationalities, and here and there a maverick who broadens our outlook: that mix is the driver of our innovative capacity.”

Difficult times are fruitful too Innovation is needed because we’re in a period of rapid change. What does that mean for a company like Melexis? Françoise: “Our most important market, the automobile industry, will change more in the coming five years than in the past 20. The sector is being compelled to move toward accelerated electrification due to the growing call for clean air, in Europe, but also, most definitely, in China. Furthermore, mobility is becoming more autonomous, more shared and more personalized. So a lot of new applications are arising and the demand for our products is growing. In other sectors too, solutions are evolving –such as smart buildings– that we want to collaborate on. On the other hand, the geopolitical tensions of recent months are having an impact. At the end of 2017 we had four scenarios on the ­table for what mobility would look like in 2030. And what happens? Our darkest scenario, in which growing nationalism and

FRANÇOISE CHOMBAR • Co-founder and CEO of Melexis • Member of the board of directors of Umicore • President of the STEM platform • Winner of the Vlerick Award (2016) and the Global Prize for Women Entrepreneurs (2018) • Voted ICT Personality of the Year (2018) • Appointed Science Fellow at the VUB (Free University of Brussels) (2018)

You launch a product every month, and that is usually the result of an innovation. An amazing statistic. How do you do it? Françoise: “Innovation is our essence. So we work with complementary teams, because that increases creativity. People can fail too, because you learn fastest from your mistakes. And we also listen very closely to the market to offer solutions that are really wanted.” Data is the new gold, they say. What is your digital strategy? Veerle: “We don’t have a digital strategy; digital is just an obvious component in building our future and, in that sense, a logical part of our corporate strategy. Due to the exten-

“ Innovation is our essence. So we work with complementary teams, because that increases creativity. People can fail too; you learn from that.”

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“ Naturally, it’s fantastic that our employees themselves are requesting digital changes more and more often as they get more of a feeling for technology.”

How do you wage the war for talent that is hard fought in the high-tech sector? Françoise: “I don’t like that word ‘war’. We’re not waging war against other companies, or with our employees. With a little more patience than before, we still find the right people, and the right people find us. The DNA that suits us is that of people with an open view of the world and a passion for innovation and sustainability. Once they are with us, they often stay a very long time, because they like our culture. We are of the opinion that autonomy, competence and involvement lead to intrinsic motivation, so that you don’t need command and control, and you naturally end up with an environment that is very result-oriented but, at the same time, also very people-oriented.”

sive tests that we do on all our components, Melexis is sitting on a mountain of data, and we have long been aware of how important that is. We are now focusing on making use of data for the benefit of ourselves and our customers.”

Innovation and sustainability How do you see the role of IT within Melexis in that context? Veerle: “IT is not the conventional department in its ivory tower; it’s really a part of the business, and together we develop wonderful solutions. It’s naturally fantastic that our employees are requesting digital changes more and more often themselves as they get more of a feeling for technology. So we are happy to let them experiment to find solutions themselves, although in a safe environment and according to certain guidelines. In addition, IT is often a pioneer in things that are later introduced company-wide, such as project management offices and virtual working via Google Hangouts.”

VEERLE LOZIE • VP Operations & IT of Melexis • Member of the board of directors of Bestbend and of the advisory board of Delta Light • Voted CIO of the Year (2014) • Vice President of the CIOforum in Belgium

The STEM platform is an independent group of experts who advise the Flemish government on the STEM action plan and proposes priorities. The Flemish government appoints its members and these members use their knowledge, experience and network to reach the goals as dictated in the action plan.

Françoise, you are the president of the STEM platform. Where does that commitment come from? Françoise: “It’s something that lies close to my heart personally and also lives in our company. When we came up with initiatives with a STEM component in our organization several years ago, we decided to make this our corporate social responsibility theme and to positively contribute with our knowledge and innovative capacity to more STEM in the world. For example, quite a few Melexis employees are coaches at STEM academies during working hours. Personally I want to get more diversity in STEM. To draw from talent pools that still remain largely untapped, such as young women, in order to alleviate the shortage of STEM profiles. But also, and especially, to make technology more gender-neutral. Because if technology also integrates the perspective of women more, you get better products and services and the global gender gap can be closed faster. Maybe even in one generation, who knows?”


FEDNOT supports firms of notaries with legal advice, IT solutions, office management, training and information for the general public.

as a spearhead for service provision VISION

The notary still has a role to play in the digital society. New technology adds to the service range offered by notaries, who also have more scope to make a distinction between advice, empathy and discretion.

THE SNN The Secure Notarial Network (SNN) is an initiative of Fednot and Proximus. It is a secure network that remains entirely separate from the standard internet. Via the SNN, firms of notaries can contact one another and Fednot securely. The SNN forms the basis for a whole range of digital applications with which firms can expand and improve the services they provide for clients.

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JAN SAP studied law in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve. He worked for Unizo for over 20 years, including almost 10 years as secretary general of the Federation of Liberal Professions. He has been the Director General of Fednot since the end of 2018.

ednot is the federation of notaries. It provides legal advice to firms of notaries in Belgium. In addition, Fednot offers a number of support services, including IT and office management. “We can safely describe IT as the spearhead of our service provision,” says Jan Sap. The newly appointed Director General of Fednot got to know the world of notaries very well during his long career at Unizo. For nearly 10 years, he was the secretary-general of the Federation of Liberal Professions, which includes notaries. In late 2018, he moved to Fednot. “Of the 200 staff at Fednot, 100 work in the IT department,” he says. “So Fednot is the IT shared service center for the whole sector. Among other things, we offer a portal with around 50 IT ­applications.”


Digital notaries For an outsider, this may be an unexpected concept, in stark contrast to the traditional image of the notary who swears by pen and paper. Jan qualifies this: “Above all, the notary is a strong brand,” he says. “That has always been the case, incidentally. Surveys show time and again that people appreciate and trust the work done by notaries. Notaries stand for quality. Trust in particu-

lar is important. In the digital economy, trust is becoming the most important currency.” But apart from that, the notary’s profession has long since left behind the massive amounts of paperwork that characterized it. In fact, the eNotariaat was launched almost 20 years ago, a closed and secure platform for notaries, with a great many shared applications. Of course, notaries also use applications made available by the various government services, such as eDepot, with which notaries can create a business and adapt business data in the government’s databases, and eRegistration for the online registration of notarial deeds with the Federal Public Service of Finance. “Now digitalization is expanding more toward the general public,” Jan explains. “I’m thinking here of applications such as


THE NOTARY’S PROFESSION IN FIGURES • 1,150 firms, with 1,550 notaries and 8,000 staff altogether • Upwards of 2.5 million people go to their notary every year • 900,000 deeds per year


Biddit and MyBox, among others.” The online platform Biddit is the digital counterpart of the traditional public auction. Members of the public can use this platform to buy property under the guidance of the notary, without having to actually go to a public session. MyBox is a tool that provides information about marriage and cohabitation contracts. Confidential information The initiatives clearly show that at Fednot, too, the importance of digital services is high on the agenda. “Notaries are responding to developments in society,” Jan notes. “The digital channel offers a great many possibilities to serve members of the public faster and more efficiently. That is definitely progress. At the same time, security remains an important focus of attention.” Notaries administer a lot of sensitive, confidential information. So they are an attractive target for cybercriminals. Fednot anticipated this with the Secure Notarial Network (SNN), developed in cooperation with Proximus (see p. 48). This network provides the necessary connectivity between the firms and the federation, in total security. Technology offers opportunity Does the notary see the digital evolution as a possible threat to his or her office? A technology like blockchain, for example, could perfectly well serve as a new means of drawing up a mortgage, a contract or some other deed. “We don’t look at things like that,” says Jan. “These days, people do virtually everything with their smartphones. It’s important for notaries to keep up with that and offer new, digital services, as well. For instance, we make it possible to conclude a deed via a videoconference.” Aren’t notaries undermining their own business by doing this? “Not at all. We see it as an opportunity. The same goes for blockchain. The technology is there. Why would we want to obstruct it? On the contrary, we do well to embrace the technology, as always, and strengthen our role

by providing extra advice on the matter.” For that matter, Fednot has set up a lab that closely follows developments in blockchain technology. “We also contributed to a book on blockchain and socalled smart contracts, intended for both notaries and the general public.” Jan is referring to 21 lessons for the 21st century by Yuval Noah Harari. “A very interesting book,” he says, “certainly from the notary’s point of view.” ­Harari describes how land ownership was once the measure of everything, before it changed to the possession of production resources. According to Harari, the wars of the future will be about data. “Notaries have a treasure trove of data: about how families function, about real estate, wills and companies, to name but a few. Among other things, we look at how, with new technology – artificial intelligence, for instance we can use these data to create new insights to unlock information and make forecasts.” Discretion This is an example of the way in which technology helps notaries move forward. “But the core remains the wisdom and experience of the notary,” Jan goes on. “You can’t resolve a dossier with a chatbot or an algorithm. The technology can provide the information, but ultimately, it is the empathy of the notary and the trust of the client that produce the end result.” That is still


The François Kumps firm of notaries is going digital thanks to the Secure Notarial Network

Official deeds from a distance the main reason clients come to the notary. “At the same time, discretion is key,” Jan adds. “A lot of information covering a wide field comes up during a discussion with a notary.” Until further notice, that remains something that no technology can deal with. Fednot takes its task in the current broad technological evolution extremely seriously. “Absolutely, we are currently right in the midst of a strategic exercise,” Jan says. “We are keeping our finger on the pulse and want to see what direction further developments in the notary’s profession will take. By the way, we do this with external e ­ xperts as well.”

François Kumps believes that the digitization of his firm of notaries in La Hulpe is a development that was to be expected. The most important stage in his digital transformation? The Secure Notarial Network provided by Fednot and Proximus. Client satisfaction included.

What is your impression of the SNN platform? François: This system is excellent. It requires a minimum of IT equipment and training for our teams. But it offers substantial added value for my firm and my clients. Why did you start using the SNN platform? François: As a notary, I have always been convinced that digitalization was an asset for our profession. The Secure Notarial Network provides me with a dedicated network, secure information and the possibility of holding videoconferences with other firms. Major problems can be resolved more easily when we can see one another. How does the SNN make your daily life easier? François: Customary practices in our profession mean that each party is entitled to choose the notary who will represent them in a transaction. In some cases, this may entail significant journeys for the notary, accompanied by the client. For older clients, these journeys can cause a certain amount of stress, and they are often a waste of time for the notary. So being able to see one another and talk to one another remotely, without having to travel far, really is a great advantage.”

What type of support can you expect from Fednot? François: From installation to implementation, I’ve always been able to rely on a fast, efficient service. Fednot, Proximus and my IT partner were all there for the system start-up. Everything went smoothly. Does the digital transformation present any difficulties to a notary? François: No, not at all. We start by digitizing the incoming documents and the dossiers. That means we can centralize the information and find it quickly using a logical system that is specific to our firm. The clients benefit, too, as does the public service in general.

“ We start by digitizing the incoming documents and the dossiers. That means we can centralize the information and find it quickly using a logical system that is specific to our firm.” François Kumps, notary at La Hulpe


Notary Georges Hougaerts, one of the first to use the SNN platform

Saves kilometers and time Notary Georges Hougaerts from Tongeren was one of the first notaries in our country to use the Secure Notarial Network. He especially likes the videoconferencing possibilities.

What do you think of the SNN platform? Georges: “I think it’s very good. It’s a groundbreaking innovation that allows our profession to take another substantial step in the digital direction. You need to be reasonably well equipped already, of course, and have a little knowledge of IT, but if like me you follow the digital revolution a little bit, you realize that this is the way to go.” Why did you become a SNN user? Georges: “I first got acquainted with the system at a conference, and I wanted to be one of the first to get on board. I use the videoconferencing very regularly. I live in a slightly out-of-the-way area of the country and when I had to drive to see a colleague in Brussels or Antwerp, for example, I lost half a day. Now we do everything via videoconferencing.” How does the SNN facilitate your work? Georges: “The main advantages for me are the time and kilometers that I save with it. Furthermore, now I’m one hundred percent certain that my office is optimally secure in terms of IT, even to the extent that I’m considering scaling back somewhat the security that I had installed myself. Now only my telephony still uses the line of my previous operator; I’m probably going to keep that in a dual system.”

In what way does Fednot offer support? Georges: “During the installation they helped set up the videoconferencing, for example. They also keep me informed of new possibilities on the system regularly by e-mail. And they offer support too of course, but fortunately I have not yet needed it much.” How difficult is it as a notary to switch over to a digital work environment such as this? Georges: “You have to be a little bit interested in IT and also have the right infrastructure, in terms of cabling for example. But from then on it’s self-explanatory. Of course most notaries have already taken substantial steps toward digitization, so in that respect we have experience.”

GEORGES HOUGAERTS Has been notary for 8 years, he uses the SNN platform since August 2018.

Smart City: RESEARCH

From left to right: Benoît Van Calbergh, Pierre Richard, Véronique Davaux, Philippe Delvaux.

The Smart City Live Lab pilot project is running full steam ahead in the city of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve. The initial results have been published and the ecosystem is consolidating. Here we take stock with four very enthusiastic participants in this project.

he main stakeholders have been identified for several months now and the Smart City Live Lab pilot project focuses on three topics: security and prevention, mobility and energy. “We have completed the data collection phase. Now we are benefiting from the many possibilities for analysis and interfacing between the ecosystem’s tools and our own. An unprecedented situation!” explains Benoît Van Calbergh, head of the city’s cartography service.


Noise: a matter of standards For the topics of security and prevention and mobility, crossing new data with those gathered from the 800 telephone calls about noise recorded annually arouses the curiosity of Véronique Davaux, head of the strategic analysis service of the Ottignies-Louvainla-Neuve police zone: “In a wider setting, we have created the Louvain-at-Night concept. With the Proximus ecosystem, we can

S M A R T C I T Y _ O T T I G N I E S - L O U V A I N - L A - N E U V E C A N C O M P A R E A N D A D A P T_ 5 3

never without the people compare our data with objective data gathered via sound-level meters.” And municipal councilor Philippe Delvaux states: “The goal is not zero tolerance. We want a lively city, but one where the standards set are respected”. From one to five sound-level meters The first sound-level meter recorded data in a district of Ot­ tignies. “We were very quickly able to cross-reference the data from the histograms with the time of the calls. We are motivated by a single goal: the well-being of local people,” Véronique says. Four new sound-level meters are to be installed in the spots that give rise to the majority of the calls about noise. “We are keen to be able to check the decibel level and compliance with the standards set in these districts. The excellent collaboration with the UCLouvain is essential to carry out this project successfully,” the strategic analyst of the police zone insists. Adapting the mobility policy Mobility advisor Benoît is a fan of the FLOWcheck tool developed by Be-Mobile, a branch of the Proximus ecosystem. “We know which areas in our region see the most accidents, but we have never actually been able to analyze the real speed of vehicles. So within the project, we have checked the impact of in-

OTTIGNIESLOUVAIN-LA-NEUVE • Surface area: 33 km2 • 31,550 inhabitants • Over 2,740 selfemployed workers • The largest underground car park in the Benelux (3,300 spaces, including 2,500 for commuters and 800 for local residents) • The largest sports center in Wallonia (Blocry)

“ Digitizing cannot be synonymous with an even wider digital divide. If you are thinking about launching a smart city process, it’s vital to organize a public consultation and place the citizen center stage at all times.” Pierre Richard, Heads the IT Service

stalling a mobile radar to record the speed of the traffic. The results are edifying and now we can adapt our mobility policy based on the facts.” A minute-by-minute survey When mobility actually means immobility, it becomes very useful to be able to calculate the congestion levels in real time. “We now obtain a dynamic view and objective information that can be mapped out, for future reference. The Smart City Live Lab boosts our thinking, while the tools very quickly consolidate the information gathered, which we then present at the political level for strategic decision-making. While the quantity of data is impressive, the ease with which they can be interpreted is equally so,” says Benoît. Energy consumption down 17% Third topic identified: energy. On that score, the city was already well ahead of its time. However, additional savings still seem feasible. “Existing measures backed up by the presence of sensors have already enabled us to improve our aims compared with the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy in Europe. In addition to centralized management, we have reduced energy consumption in our public buildings by 17%,” says Philippe.

Tips for starters One of the aims of the city of Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve is to inspire other cities in the country. In fact, sharing knowledge is part of their DNA. Pierre Richard, who heads the IT Service, gave us a few tips: “If you are thinking about launching a smart city process, it’s vital to organize a public consultation and place the citizen center stage at all times. Technology needs to be a means to an end and not an end in itself. Right from the start, surround yourself with the right partners, those who will be able to show that digitization is not synonymous with widening the digital divide. Finally, set measurable goals to promote concrete results.”


JASON SAMPERS Segment Marketing Analyst at Proximus

Millenials and IoT:

the perfect match?

illennials: the generation that is just old enough to remember the years without the internet, with Sony Walkmans, music cassettes and Windows 95. And the generation that is, at the same time, young enough to have experienced the digital wave since childhood. The so-called millennials … I’m one of them. A ‘late’ one, admittedly. In my early twenties, a newcomer on the labor market and a digital native. But how do we, the millennials, deal with the digital reality? Do we embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) just like that?


I do, at least. The idea that everything is connected to everything, all the time and everywhere, does not scare me. On the contrary, I benefit fully from the convenience provided by IoT. It doesn’t stop with the smartphone any longer. Wireless headphones, an Apple TV and Chromecast, smart speakers, smart lamps, locks and doorbells and so on, they are all part of my daily life. And if – in exchange for all this convenience – I have to give up some of my privacy, well, then so be it. Here’s a small example: Recently, I was sitting on a tram in the center of Ghent when suddenly I got a message on my smartphone. “Come along and see us,” it said. “We’re just around the corner.” Sender: ­Nespresso. I knew straight away where I could find my favorite brand of coffee. And when I actually went into the shop, I was offered a free coffee spontaneously. Marketing tricks? Certainly! But it did make me happy. And without my smartphone, I might well have just gone to my usual coffee bar. That’s nearby too, but the coffee there isn’t for free. You see: being connected all the time has its advantages. But when I compare my attitude with that of my contemporaries, I notice that IoT isn’t so warmly welcomed by everyone. A lot of people don’t want to spend money on expensive, unnecessary gadgets. Take the smartwatch, for instance: more expensive than the average

wristwatch, but what added value does it really offer? It would be better to keep the money to go out for a meal, or travel – b ­ ecause millennials usually travel more than their parents ever did. Others have concerns about the impact of IoT on our privacy. IoT applications need our data, and people don’t like giving it away. And if there really is no other option, then people at least want shared data to be secure. So security services will definitely play a role in the further development of IoT applications. Whether we like it or not, the IoT will prove even more useful in the future. At the moment mainly in our private lives, but soon also – and above all – in public places and in the business world. No more driving around endlessly until you come across a parking space, but finding a free space straight away via an app. No more lighting all the streets all night, but lamps that only light up when someone passes by. Handy, right? Just look at the smartphone: 10 years ago, virtually no one had one. “Not necessary”, they said. Now, no one can do without them. For IoT it may not be any different.

Our customer database? It’s out with my employees somewhere, I guess?

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