As I am writing these words – on May 18 – we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. First and foremost a human tragedy, COVID-19 is exacting a heavy toll on health care services and people worldwide. On top of that, the economic global fallout is massive. With every day that passes, it is becoming clear that there will be ‘pre-corona’ and ‘post-corona’. We are, all of us, in uncharted territory.
When I think of the topics that I wanted to address here ‘pre-corona’, I find that most of them still stand. First, the significance of ‘in close cooperation’, the Cegeka tagline. Intensified collaboration, transparent communication, a can-do mentality, business and human empathy: in times like these they make all the difference. There is only one way but through, and we will do this together.
Secondly, I want to address the necessity for companies to become more ‘digitally relevant’ and resilient. In a world full of noise, companies need to create meaningful signals, whatever their business. Third, it is my firm belief that IT can and will solve many of today’s challenges. But I’m also convinced it takes forward-thinking European IT companies - companies with strong local presence and leadership – to make that happen.
Let me start with ‘in close cooperation.’ This is the North Star in everything we do and try to achieve. As we keep expanding our European footprint, ‘in close cooperation’ is more important than ever. We will always be close by, easy to get in touch with, easy to talk to, easy to do business with, no matter how fast we grow. We’re here when you need us. Quite literally.
Truly successful companies share two traits: they listen carefully to what customers say, and they are obsessed with talent. It’s not about technology, it’s about people – always. ‘In close cooperation’ is not scalable, unless you have the right people at all levels of the organization, everywhere. People, also, who are finely attuned to customers’ needs. Looking for those people, and getting them to join the Cegeka community, is our constant goal.
Our ambition is to become the most relevant ICT player in Europe, by helping companies become more relevant and resilient to change. What does that mean? Every business faces the challenge to remain fit-for-future in a world of fast-changing dynamics. That involves being able to do many things at once: running systems that are stable, secure, predictable and always-on. But also: being agile and hyper-responsive to change without making a mess.
And that is where Cegeka comes in. Our aim is to help companies do the right things right, and to do them on a first-things-first basis. Our starting point and compass in every project we take on is always: “What do we need to do in order to achieve tangible business value?”. Yes, technology is our bread and butter. Yes, technology acumen is key at Cegeka. But technology is always the enabler, never a goal in itself.
That said, we never stop exploring technology, as it is evolving non-stop. In 2019 we have made considerable investments in a number of domains, such as cloud, application modernization, cyber security, business continuity, 5G/Mobile Private Networks and everything that is ‘smart’ – from mobility to business. In all these domains we have onboarded new experts, who will push our expertise to the top level – in 2020 and beyond.
I believe that, as geopolitical tensions rise and the world is getting increasingly conflicted, the need for large-scale IT players with a strong European identity and a solid European foothold, will increase. Customers have several concerns – about continuity, security, privacy, accountability, to name just a few – and they want to address them to an IT partner they can look in the eye. A partner they can – literally – shake hands (or elbow-bump) with.
That is why Cegeka is making considerable investments in strong local leadership in all the countries we are present in. We are and remain headquartered in Hasselt, Belgium – with the Netherlands becoming our second home base. The acquisition of KPN Consulting – started in 2019 and finalised this spring - is another milestone on the road towards increased local presence and a strong end-to-end portfolio in the Netherlands.
Today, in times of crisis and turmoil, it is clearer than ever that we are in the people business. Cegeka exists by the grace of its people. As I said in last year’s annual report, it is this focus on people – our customers and their customers, our employees, business partners, stakeholders and investors – that has made and continues to make Cegeka the success story it is today. Thank you, everyone.
I am proud of everything we have achieved thus far. And, being an entrepreneur as well as an optimist, I am hopeful for the future. I am confident we will weather this storm, if we keep working together ‘in close cooperation’.