The expanding responsibilities of Schuberg Philis
What we did
Jeroen: "In the past we were given a very specific assignment: in many cases we received a request for proposal, with tender specifications we had to follow. The customer had already done much of the preliminary work. Naturally we would ask questions and we did our own research, but the customer had a clear picture of what it was they needed. Often they had a critical operational problem, so we were called in to solve it. The starting point was not always the same, but the final destination, of stability, security, and a good night's sleep, was often clear from the beginning."
What we do
Organizations face changes at various levels, increasing the degree of uncertainty involved in their choices. Jeroen: "Customers see technological change accelerating. In addition, their value chain is changing. For example, in the networked economy you do much less yourself. So customers feel impelled to engage in a more fundamental trajectory of change, where the destination is often not yet clear."
Arthur: "Customers have to deal with more uncertainties related to their situation. They ask us for input and a vision. We analyze the essentials of the customer's needs. We like to tackle each issue as it will play out in the near future, rather than tackling it as of now. Whereas in the past we used our expertise to find a solution that met the customer's requirements, now we use our expertise to help the customer deal with uncertainty and anticipate the future better. Basically, we help them to find the best route to their best future position."
Jeroen: "Now we zoom out more, before we jump in. We spend more time thinking about the business context before we start work, making us much more of an IT business consultant, but in our case consultancy always supports the next step: the implementation of the strategy. What solutions can we offer, what opportunities can we create? We focus on the long term; we do research, give advice, implement our advice, and then take responsibility for the implementation."
Speed where needed
Arthur: "For many of our customers, the long term is increasingly uncertain, so they live more and more in the short term. You run a few quick experiments and implement the most successful. You have to act faster to make the most of your window of opportunity. You can no longer benefit from a business innovation for many years, because the market will catch up. How long that takes depends on the company, but it's a fact that the greater agility in today's markets means that competitors will much sooner be able to do whatever you can do. So the speed of implementation has to increase if you want to stay competitive: it makes the difference between profit and loss."
Jeroen: "We can offer a lot in terms of translating business questions into conse-quences for IT strategy and the structure of IT services. We identify the changes that, from a business perspective, must be done quickly, and those which do not. Because, even in the critical components, with which money is actually earned, there are some that do not necessarily need to change. What's needed is applied agility at those points where it's really important." Arthur: "That's where our consultancy role comes in: we locate the customer's core issues. Then top speed is crucial, without compromising our commitment to 100% quality in implementing and delivering projects on time."
Taking a view beyond technology
Every customer's context is unique. The complexity that is intrinsic to IT strategy comes from integrating many domains: business, architecture, technology, the platforms and ecosystems, and whether one's partners can move at the same speed. Arthur: "That also means we play different roles; our people have developed a feeling for business and data, for flow and business processes. These are people who can sense where problems may arise, and we ask the right questions so that we can co-create the best solutions." We also play a more inspiring connecting role at a more abstract level in the customer's transition. This often involves not just technology and business, but also a transformation in culture, self-management, and partner integration.
Jeroen: "What's important here is that consultancy is never the end for us, but rather the means. If we make a recommendation, we also guarantee that we have the technical expertise to implement it. That's one implication of the 100% mindset we have at Schuberg Philis. We think there's a market demand for this mindset. And that makes us unique." Arthur: "We can do it thanks to our teams, who have quickly adapted to the consultancy role but still retain that special Schuberg Philis DNA."
Shift in implementation
Jeroen: "In the past, companies had an application-driven IT approach, determined largely by the choice of applications. The various applications had to be linked together in a smoothly working chain. Now we see a data-driven approach to IT, and the data that you need to keep your business functioning can be everywhere and nowhere. You have the platform as a service, and software as a service, so the data is everywhere. Where Schuberg Philis can help customers now is by offering an integral vision and insight into that data, with the flexibility to easily connect or disconnect data. That's an asset for your critical processes. For us, this is not so much a new capability as expanding that capability from a technical operational level to the functional data level."
Arthur: "Our DNA remains the same: we are keeping the customer teams, who are fully focused on their customers, who do what's necessary for complete customer satisfaction, and who take responsibility for the final integral result. What we see is that these teams are taking on some consultancy functions, because each project has a different dynamic and needs another solution. As a customer you don't want to build expensive IT capabilities that you don't need, so you need to know where and how you will use key capabilities. That knowledge and the consultancy capability have now become part of the customer teams and this will certainly expand."
Jeroen: "Together with our customers, we are currently exploring our next lines of development, using 'design thinking.' In some cases we have helped customers using the design thinking approach; now we are applying it to ourselves. It's an internal capability that we, in our own careful way, are now strengthening so as to be able to offer it more structurally to customers."
Arthur: "It says something that we've been the top scoring IT company in the Netherlands in the Giarte survey for 12 years now: when we do something, we do it well. That applies to our current services, and to the way we are developing future services. We take full responsibility there too. The 100% promise is a constant; it's just the applied resources that change."