What will ‘tomorrow’ bring for your company?

Tomorrow is Today

We are living in a new world, a world where technology is evolving at exponential speed. Over the past five weeks this series has looked at the latest developments in digitisation, cyber security and data analytics. Are we ready for tomorrow? Rik Vanpeteghem, CEO of Deloitte, takes stock of the situation for the Belgian economy.

“Our people are our biggest strength. A culture where innovation is stimulated is the most important guarantee for the future of a company.”

Rik Vanpeteghem, CEO of Deloitte Belgium

The future is becoming increasingly difficult to predict. Who could have said that Skype would become the biggest international provider of communication, without its own network infrastructure? Or that Apple would become the biggest music retailer, without even selling one CD? Over the past decade, the average lifespan of companies dropped to less than 20 years. Everyone has to ask the question what ‘tomorrow’ will bring for their company. Not only the established companies, also the Facebooks and Googles, who with their business model caused disruption themselves not so long ago. Nobody is immune.

Rik Vanpeteghem,
CEO Deloitte

Digital dilemmas

There is no escaping anymore: digitisation is here to stay. “Companies should not ask themselves whether to go digital, but rather how the evolution can change their sector or even turn it upside down,” says Olivier de Groote, Managing Partner Clients & Markets at Deloitte.

”For us, the Internet changed everything,” says John Porter, CEO of Telenet. ”The Internet resulted in a deluge of suppliers with services similar to ours.“ Digitisation also changed the relationship with customers. ”Our customers are connected to the Internet in more and more ways,” says Porter. ”Not just with a classic PC and television, but also laptops, smartphones, tablets and smart watches.“ A practically noiseless evolution for the consumer, which considerably changed Telenet's business model. ”We used to mainly sell bundles: the focus was on products. Telephony, internet and television. Now it is all about data: how many gigabytes does the customer need?”

Digitisation also brings opportunities. ”Today we can be so much more than a network administrator,” says Porter. ”This is why we are moving up in the value chain, i.e. making our own content. Our takeover of De Vijver Media should be seen in this light.“ By becoming a supplier of the products on its network, Telenet has a major advantage over the growing international competition. ”We are local,” says Porter. ”We can make Flemish programmes, they can't. We can help consumers with the organisation of their digital activities.“

Olivier de Groote,
Managing Partner Clients & Markets at Deloitte

John Porter,
CEO Telenet

Data: the way forward for new business models

Companies are sitting on an ever growing mountain of data. Together with an exponentially increasing computing power, this data creates enormous opportunities: insight into what the customer wants, new business models around targeted advertising, and efficiency improvements. Deloitte still notices some caution in Belgian companies with regard to Big Data. ”We see big differences depending on the sectors. Everyone has a different vision on the return on investment of data,” says Olivier de Groote. ”At Telenet the income of Big Data, for example in the form of targeted advertising, is already greater than the costs. The telecom operator is very positive about the technology and the opportunities.“

Another company putting Big Data prominently on the agenda is Janssen Pharmaceutica in Beerse, the pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. ”Today, standard medication works for the majority of patients. Knowing what works and doesn’t work for which person would result in an enormous improvement in efficiency,” says CEO Tom Heyman.

”We are currently working with the data of a limited number of patients in the development of medication,” says Heyman. ”But if we are able to process the data of hundreds of thousands of patients, in combination with biological data, we get a clear picture of the interaction between bacteria and cells. And then we can personalise our medication to a considerable extent.“ Janssen's big dream goes a step further. ”The better we understand the body, the better we can opt for prevention. Recognising the disease before it actually breaks out.”

Janssen works closely with universities and the government to study the latest possibilities of supercomputing. The company recently opened a new prevention centre which is all about Big Data. ”Today it does indeed cost more than it brings in, but in our sector we are used to long-term thinking. Developing medication takes ten years,” says Heyman. ”It can easily take up to 15 years before we get a return from the project, but that does not mean that it is not worth the investment.”

In certain sectors Big Data has a negative connotation with consumers. ”Unfairly,” believes de Groote. ”Data can in fact considerably improve services toward customers.”

”We work with data analytics, but merely within the bank,” says Rik Vandenberghe, CEO of ING Belgium.” The information is in no way whatsoever commercialised, it is only used to optimise our service for the customers.“

The data analytics applications at ING Belgium are often very simple: being able to talk to a client in the correct language right away, or a special web portal based on previous preferences. But ING Belgium also goes further. ”Thanks to data, we are able to hand clients the tools to make financial decisions easier,” says Vandenberghe. Thereby, the bank developed a budget module, which gives clients a better understanding of their expenses.

Tom Heyman,
CEO Janssen Pharmaceutica

Rik Vandenberghe,

Cyber: inherent danger

In a world where digital technology and information play an increasingly important role, the management of cyber threats has become a fundamental component of doing business. Companies are shifting from bricks to clicks and the criminals are following. Anyone who finds ways to use the new technology in the most secure way possible has an important competitive advantage.

Some sectors are more sensitive to cyber risks than others. Banks, pharmaceutical companies and the telecom sector are popular targets of hackers. Because they all possess valuable information. CEOs Porter, Heyman and Vandenberghe are aware of the risks. ”Cybersecurity is an absolute top priority for us,” emphasises Vandenberghe. ”What do we have that our new, digital competitors don't have? Well, we are a trusted partner for our clients: they know us and can trust us. We don't want to put this image at risk under any circumstances.“

Both Telenet, Janssen Pharmaceutica and ING Belgium have specialised teams that detect irregularities and can act if necessary. But the problem requires awareness in the entire value chain. Hackers always target the weakest link and that is often the client. ”Over the past months we have invested heavily in the awareness of our clients under the motto of 'You don't give your house keys to a stranger either, do you?’. The aim is to warn them about passwords or other sensitive info,” says Vandenberghe. Successfully so: last year the number of fraud cases involving internet banking in Belgium dropped by 85 percent from 1,800 to 277.

“Cross-sectoral solutions allow you to do business with tomorrow's versatile companies.”

Olivier de Groote, Managing Partner Clients & Markets, Deloitte Belgium

Corporate venturing: heading toward the future together

Telenet, ING Belgium and Janssen Pharmaceutica are ready for tomorrow, that much is certain. But what about the distant future? What is the key to a sustainable and innovative company? Manoeuvrability is a very important factor. Also on the list: a corporate culture that stimulates new ideas and has a finger on the pulse when it comes to start-ups.

Telenet, for instance, has a successful partnership with digital start-ups via Telenet Idealabs, an accelerator and co-working place where young companies are able to work and receive guidance. ”Idealabs falls under our corporate social responsibility. But it is more than that,” says Porter. ”The energy of these start-ups has a positive effect on our company. They inspire us. And the project fits perfectly in our idea of open architecture: innovation by collaboration.”

”All the CEOs we spoke to underline the importance of collaboration with other sectors,” concludes Olivier de Groote. ”These partnerships often yield the most innovative solutions. And these cross-sectoral solutions allow you to do business with tomorrow's versatile companies.”

”I always tell my employees that innovation lies within them,” says Janssen Pharmaceutica top man Tom Heyman. ”Innovation is not something that only happens in the lab, it is also thinking about how processes in a certain department can be improved, establishing new partnerships, and not being afraid of taking another look at your career.”

Deloitte has a rock-solid belief in a positive future for anyone who is prepared to embrace the changes and to prepare for tomorrow. ”We have been in business for 170 years and we have seen the rise of many innovations,” says Rik Vanpeteghem, CEO of Deloitte Belgium. ”But there has always been one constant: our biggest strength was never the technology, but our people. A culture where innovation is stimulated is the most important guarantee for the future of a company.”

De Tijd (2/4)


We leven in een nieuwe wereld, een wereld waar technologie evolueert met een exponentiële snelheid. Met deze reeks hebben we de afgelopen vijf weken de nieuwste ontwikkelingen belicht in digitalisering, cyberveiligheid en data analytics. Zijn we klaar voor morgen? Rik Vanpeteghem, CEO van Deloitte, maakt de balans op voor de Belgische economie.

Published: 2 April 2015

L'Echo (2/4)


Nous vivons dans un monde nouveau, un monde où la technologie progresse à une vitesse exponentielle. Dans le cadre de cette série, nous avons analysé ces cinq dernières semaines les développements les plus récents en matière de numérisation, de cybersécurité et d’analyse de données. Sommes-nous prêts à affronter les défis de demain ? Rik Vanpeteghem, CEO de Deloitte, dresse le bilan de l’économie belge.

Published: 2 April 2015

De Standaard (3/4)

Bedrijven van morgen transformeren vandaag

Is uw onderneming klaar voor de toekomst? Nieuwe technologieën en business modellen duiken in sneltempo op en een aantal daarvan kunnen hele markten op hun kop zetten. Bedrijven die scherp en concurrentieel willen blijven, zetten innovatie steevast hoog op de agenda.

Published: 3 April 2015

Trends (23/4)

De ‘connected customer’ is toonaangevend in de toekomst

De digitale transformatie heeft de bedrijfswereld flink door elkaar geschud. Zelfs ondernemingen zoals Facebook en Google, die actief bijdragen aan deze disruptie, worden uitgedaagd om vandaag na te denken over morgen. Maar uzelf ook.

Published: 23 April 2015

Tendances (23/4)

Le ‘client connecté’, pierre angulaire de l’avenir

La transformation numérique a bouleversé en profondeur le monde des entreprises. Et même des sociétés comme Facebook et Google, qui ont contribué activement à cette rupture, sont mises au défi de songer dès aujourd’hui à demain. Mais vous aussi.

Published: 23 April 2015
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