Koen Helsen and Sander van Loosbroek have a dual role in the organization. Koen joined Cegeka in 2015 as Marketing Director, as did Sander earlier the same year as Blockchain Solution Manager. As from 2017, both are also in charge of fostering a company-wide culture of innovation, as well as creating an environment in which both employees and customers can leverage disruptive technology to unlock new business opportunities.
“When Cegeka jumped on the Blockchain bandwagon back in 2014, we were one of the few pioneers in the Benelux,” Sander van Loosbroek sets off. “The decision by the board to invest in this revolutionary technology was rooted in the firm belief that it would have a huge impact on the way in which people and businesses transmit value over the internet. We believed that it would force organizations to question and rethink their business models, and we were right.”
“The Blockchain project also had a side effect. It pushed us to redefine our value proposition with regard to innovation,” Koen Helsen continues. “You can look at disruptive technology in two ways: as a threat, or as an opportunity. For us, it’s a no-brainer: we see it as a source for new business opportunities. Our mission is to unlock the possibilities of what new tech can bring to the table in terms of business value, and to inspire customers to try and experiment with us.”
Enter the hands-on and level-headed approach Cegeka is well-known for. “We are, to be honest, not the kind of organization to publish long papers in which we muse on the impact of, say Machine Learning, on the city of the future,” Sander says. “We could do that, but plenty of others already are, so I don’t see the urgency. What we do see a need for, is a gung-ho attitude to grab this new technology by the horns and breathe life into it for our customers’ benefit.”
So what is the Cegeka modus operandi when it comes to innovation? “Experimenting, rapid prototyping and quick-win projects,” Koen explains. “Innovation is like a tango: it takes two to dance. Our aim is to set up an environment in which customers can hook up with our own innovation experts, exchange ideas, and conduct experiments that are rooted in real business cases. It can be Blockchain, but in the future also IoT or Artificial Intelligence. We don’t have a fixed list.”
This penchant for experimentation and quick-win results typefies the Cegeka Blockchain approach of the past 3 years. “There’s so much noise around Blockchain these days, people understandably have trouble picking out the one signal” Sander says. “I see it as our mission to both demystify the phenomenon as well as build, integrate and support applications that prove where the added value is. I’m convinced that this ‘walk the talk’ attitude is one of our main strenghts,” he says.
So what’s on the agenda for 2017? “When I talk with customers, I notice a readiness to experiment which is matched with a similar drive for innovation inside Cegeka,” Koen says. “We would like to see that all parties find each other, inspire and learn from each other and start experimenting and co-creating. Innovation is becoming an integral part of the Cegeka DNA, and we want to make sure all our customers are well aware of that,” he concludes.
When I talk with customers, I notice a readiness to experiment which is matched with a similar drive for innovation inside Cegeka. We would like to see that all parties find each other, inspire and learn from each other and start experimenting and co-creating.
Sander Van Loosbroek is 37 years old. In 2015 he joined Cegeka as Blockchain Solution Manager; today he leads the Cegeka Distributed Ledger Research and Development activities. Since 2015, he has developed several Blockchain Proof-of-Concepts. Sander enjoys tinkering with his Raspberry Pi and disassembling hardware, which is why he always carries a screwdriver in his pocket.
Koen Helsen is 47 years old. In 2015 he joined Cegeka as Marketing Director. Before that he was VP Marketing at Barco. Today, he is in charge of Marketing and Innovation. A real travel enthusiast, Koen has been pretty much all over the world. Coming from a family of watchmakers, he has a penchant for beautiful wristwatches.