Zander Colaers is COO of the Infrastructure Department at Cegeka Group. This department encompasses several business units, which are clustered around the divisions Outsourcing and Infrastructure Projects. Zander combines his role as COO with that of Country Director for the Netherlands.
“CIOs are in the hot seat,” Zander Colaers sets off. “They are heralded as the new Chiefs of Innovation and the drivers behind Digital Transformation. At the same time they are still the go-to persons for ‘all things IT’: 100% responsible for making sure that infrastructure and applications are up in the air and running like clockwork, 24/7, all year round. That is quite a challenge.”
It is this keenly felt predicament that prompted Zander to author the book “Dare to Outsource”, published by Cegeka in 2016. In this book he sets down his vision on IT outsourcing, and what it means for both the customers and outsourcing partner. “When done right, outsourcing helps CIOs reduce their operational burden and create extra bandwidth to focus on newer aspects of their role, such as (co)piloting digital innovation,” he explains.
“When done right” is crucial here. It is Zander’s firm belief that IT outsourcing firms are in for a rough ride if they stick to ‘business as usual’: “There is a new generation of customers that are setting the bar way higher. They are prepared to yield control and operate on trust, but in return they expect their outsourcing partner to share responsibilities, be ruthlessly customer-centric and add demonstrable business value. It takes two to tango.”
“’The hybrid cloud is at the centre of most of our projects”, says Zander. “Organizations come to us for guidance through in an increasingly complex cloud landscape. We help them choose the path that best fits their goals and strategy, we build it and support it end-to-end. The ‘ideal’ cloud path might involve our own data centres, the customer’s, those of Microsoft or Amazon, the public cloud, or – the most likely scenario – a combination. For us, it doesn’t matter.”
The ability to offer integrated end-to-end solutions and act as a SPOC – Single Point of Contact – is key here. “Most customers want to buy a chain, not just a few isolated chinks,” Zander continues. “Our ability to produce that chain – from advice and implementation to service and business improvement – is something we are working on persistently. A crucial chink in the chain is custom expert advice. That is why we are ramping up our consultancy efforts in 2017.”
“Customers are consistently asking for down-to-earth, customized and above all, practicable advice on a number of topics that are ’hot’ or that give them headaches, such as cybersecurity, GDPR, DevOps, workplace optimization … just to name a few. They don’t want tall stories or thick reports, they want practicable advice, they want it from someone who truly understands their business pains and who afterwards can turn into practice what he preaches.”
When done right, outsourcing helps CIOs reduce their operational burden and create extra bandwidth to focus on newer aspects of their role, such as (co)piloting digital innovation.
In the Netherlands, 2016 was the year of ‘gearing up for action’: breaking down internal silos, standardizing end-to-end processes, fine-tuning the go-to-market strategy, updating value propositions and experimenting with new tactics in the War for Talent. Zander Colaers: “The right structures, processes and people are now in place. In 2017 we need to capitalize on these efforts and use them as a launching pad for continued growth.”
The year ahead promises to be eventful, both in terms of acquisitions – “there might be one or two in the Netherlands” - as in terms of organic growth in all divisions. The ERP division alone – which focuses on Microsoft Dynamics projects in the food industry, especially fruit and veg – is expected to double in size over the next 2 to 3 years.
The key for success? “Staying close to the customer,” concludes Zander. “We have been around for 25 years now, and ‘in close cooperation’ has been our credo right from the start. It is this empathy with our customers’ business pains, combined with our ‘fix-it’ attitude that are crucial ingredients of our success. As we grow and enter new markets, this customer intimacy will continue to be a dealmaker.”
Zander Colaers is 56 years old. He joined Cegeka in 2008. Over the past few years, he assumed several management roles in all domains within our portfolio. Today he is Country Director for the Netherlands as well as COO Infrastructure for Cegeka Group. Zander is never still: when he’s not with customers or onstage evangelizing about IT topics, he is taking long hikes in the countryside.