Marc De Groote is COO of the Applications Department at Cegeka Group. This department encompasses several business units which are clustered around the divisions Agile Software Factory, Digital and Mobile, Health and Microsoft Solutions. Marc combines his role as COO for Cegeka Group with that of Country Director for Belgium.
“When I joined Cegeka in 2016, the company’s motto ‘in close cooperation’ really struck home with me,” Marc says. “It highlights qualities that, in my experience, are more crucial than mere technological skills. Don’t get me wrong: IT skills are fundamental in what we do, but truth is they are seldom unique. Customer empathy, business insight, a take-charge attitude and pro-active stance: that is what customers come to Cegeka for.”
Cegeka offers a broad portfolio of solutions and services, and that is both an asset and a challenge, in Marc’s view: “In our enthusiasm for what is possible in terms of technology, we sometimes stumble into the trap of giving our customers too many options. Point is, many customers do not want a panoply of alternatives. They want a menu to choose from, they prefer it to be short, and they want us to narrow it down to what we believe are their best options.”
That is why in 2017, there will be increased focus on cross-division, end-to-end consultancy. Marc: “Customers don’t want to be set loose in a jungle of technology. They ask us to take them by the hand and guide them along the path, from start to end. Our consultants or ‘guides’ are not tied to this or that business unit. They have a holistic view of what Cegeka can do, they understand the business reality of the customer, and they are expertly skilled at building the bridge in between.”
Marc De Groote is a staunch believer in what he calls ‘the vertical approach’. The Microsoft Business Solutions division – which focuses on ERP, CRM and BI projects - offers sector or niche solutions and will continue to do so in 2017. “We have years’ worth of experience in food – with fruit and veg as a specialty niche – wholesale and professional services. In ERP projects, in-depth sector knowledge makes a world of difference,” he concludes.
Another ‘vertical’ milestone in 2016 is nexuzhealth, a joint venture by Cegeka and UZ Leuven (University Hospitals Leuven). Marc explains: “nexuzhealth is a medical collaborative alliance which brings together some 20 hospital groups around the EMR platform (Electronic Medical Record) that is developed by UZ Leuven, and which will be implemented and commercialized together with Cegeka. We will also develop extra functionality. It is built to facilitate communication between health professionals, hospitals and patients.”
When your business is IT, you are always in danger of becoming a commodity seller. We constantly reevaluate our value propositions and look for new ways to offer business value.
Also high on the radar in 2017 is application outsourcing. “CIOs are constantly asking us for help with managing operational IT so they can spend more time on innovation,” Marc explains. “In a world of digital transformation – or business transformation as I prefer to call it – CIOs must allocate their time, energy and resources wisely. Application outsourcing is a way of helping them reduce their operational workload, reshuffle their priorities and focus on business-IT alignment.”
What about innovation? “When your business is IT, you are always in danger of becoming a commodity seller. We constantly reevaluate our value propositions and look for new ways to offer business value. That value can be found in incremental innovation – such as simplification, optimization and automation of business processes – but also in disruptive innovation, and then we’re talking blockchain, Internet of Things, and – why not – drones.”
Cegeka is fully dedicated to step up the number of innovation initiatives in 2017. “I want to foster a culture in which innovation and experimentation are part of how we roll. Our Cegeka Innovation Labs are an example of that. But we will never innovate just for the sake of it. We will always feel the pulse of our customers in order to make sure that whatever we do and choose to invest in, has the potential of creating tangible business value for them.”
Marc De Groote is 54 years old. He has had a long international career in the financial software sector. Before he joined Cegeka, he was CEO at Callataÿ & Wouters, which was acquired by Sopra in 2012. Today he is Country Director for Cegeka Belgium as well as COO Applications for Cegeka Group. Marc is an avid sportsman, and enjoys playing the classical guitar in his free time.