Digital Strategy: 4 practical lessons

Digital Strategy: 4 practical lessons

Recent research among managers, CEOs and senior executives shows that the digital transformation of their organization is the main priority. Yet, 70% of all digital transformation goals are not achieved. This results in losses of millions of euros. This leads us to the question: why do so many organizations get stuck in their process of transformation and what can you learn from it?

The problem is that most companies are focused on the surface: they live Agile, work from a backlog and Henk from the IT department suddenly has a Black Belt. Meanwhile, adjustments of the primary process are disregarded.

What are the critical focus areas for the digital transformation of organizations? We have listed our top 4 of practical examples for you.

Lesson 1: Analyse the corporate strategy before investing in the digital strategy

Don’t focus exclusively on one specific tool. That one technical innovation enhancing everything does not exist. The success of each project depends on many factors of which the overall company strategy is paramount. In order to be able to formulate a clear vision and strategy, the focus should be on the inside: what are our strengths and perhaps more importantly, what are our weaknesses? If this is not clear, you can transform until eternity, but no structural improvements will happen within the organization.

Lesson 2: Be the change you want to see…

Powerful leaders dare to give the direction of a digital journey without a clear final goal. They know how to handle insecurity: they look beyond quarterly figures, they don’t avoid difficult discussions, they accept that not everything can be a closing business case in advance, and they take the long view.

In addition, they facilitate their teams in dealing with insecurities during the process of transition.

Lesson 3: Create the IT landscape of the future

Many companies have a heritage of the past. There are, for example, software packages being used that cause problems or a ‘technical debt’ has been accumulated as a result of failing to take any action.

Do you want your organization to make a lasting transformation? Create a new and future proof platform, an open environment in which you can implement all kinds of technologies including unproven or not yet existing technologies. A stage where everyone on the value chain can apply new applications so data can flow in and out freely to other parts of the ecosystem.

Lesson 4: Do not underestimate the power of the cultural dynamics

At Xeelas we say: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. The company culture may be the most determining element. We have seen many innovation projects getting stuck due to a closed organizational culture. That’s why our next blog is about the cultural aspect of the digital transformation.

The goal of this blog was to bring attention to the importance of putting the foundations of the organization under the microscope when you are in the process of innovation. Implementing new working procedures too quickly without a solid foundation does not lead to lasting transformation. As a result, the organization loses its right of existence in the future.

Before, and during the process of transformation, you need to have clear answers to the following two questions:

  1. What is the integral structure of my organization?
  2. What is an appropriate foundation for our future company?

If you think you can use our assistance in building a strong digital foundation after reading this blog, please contact us. Our experts will assist you in becoming part of the 30% of the companies that did achieve their goals.

Experience Golden Days in the Digital Era

Experience Golden Days in the Digital Era

Does your organization want to experience golden days during this digital era? According to Richard Rumelt, an expert in the field of organizational strategy, the core of a good strategy consists of: an analysis of the situation, a guiding road map, and related actions.

There is a distinct possibility that Richard Rumelt formulated his theory after reading about the strategic successes of the Land’s Advocate Johan van Oldenbarnevelt (1547 – 1619). He was the founder of the VOC [United East India Company] and is regarded as the greatest statesman in Dutch history by many. He is admired for his strategic talent to the present day. Therefore, we put Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and his winning strategy in the limelight in this blog.

Turbulent times require an excellent strategy

Van Oldenbarnevelt lived at the time of the Eighty Years’ War during which the Republic of the United Netherlands rioted against the Spanish domination. However, the Republic was divided, and waging war is expensive. He worked closely with Maurits van Oranje; van Oldenbarnevelt focused on state matters and finances and van Oranje on military matters.

Because of the collaboration with van Oranje, fortunately some territories were reconquered. Economically, van Oldenbarnevelt delivered a master stroke: due to the war the Dutch trade fleet was denied access to the harbors in the East by the Spanish and Portuguese. He then decided that the Fleet of the Republic must sail towards the Indies. According to van Oldenbarnevelt, a state-owned, united company was the solution par excellence to make profits, finance a large army, ban the Spanish conqueror, and become a commercial power. From that perspective, the VOC was established in 1602.

Van Oldenbarnevelt came up with the idea that in the early days of the VOC, the focus should be on banning the Portuguese from the Asian trading posts. Subsequently, potential trade competitors should be kept at a distance. Therefore, considerable investments in expensive military operations were made. As a result, the VOC suffered substantial losses in the early days, but eventually Johan van Oldenbarnevelt’s strategy worked and the VOC became a significant source of income for the Republic. From the beginning of the 17th century, the Netherlands thrived financially, and the Republic of the United Netherlands developed into an economic world power.

Upon the foundation of the VOC, the progressive van Oldenbarnevelt issued VOC shares. Those shares were not tradeable in the first twenty years. The purpose was to finance the initial period of the VOC and to grant them time to ban the Portuguese. By issuing shares, the VOC was probably the first multinational in the world. Eventually, even the Spanish traded with the company; that is how they indirectly financed their opponent: our Republic of the United Netherlands.

Van Oldenbarnevelt’s winning strategy

When we compare Richard Rumelt’s three elements of a good strategy with the story of van Oldenbarnevelt, it appears that the choices of the appraised strategist match the elements of Rumelt. We explain this below:

  1. Van Oldenbarnevelt understood the situation the Republic of the United Netherlands was in. Because of this he knew which steps had to be taken to achieve his goal (a free Republic and a well-financed treasury).
  2. He studied the powers of the Republic and developed a roadmap.. n a previous blog, Don’t Become a Manual Sawyer in the Digital Era, we wrote that the Dutch invention, the sawmill, made it possible to saw wood thirty times faster than with the usual techniques. As a result, the Netherlands soon had the world’s largest ‘trade’ fleet. Partly because of that Van Oldenbarnevelt invested in the VOC as a powerful economic and military instrument. At the same time he also studied the weaknesses of the opponents of the Republic: the weakness of the Spanish was that they were at war on several fronts against multiple opponents. This gave us more time and space to build a fleet.
  3. While drawing up the roadmap he understood that you must form a unity within to beat the competitor, the enemy.. Therefore, he formed an alliance with Maurits van Oranje and founded the VOC.
  4. All his strategic choices were coherent actions which were aligned with the roadmap: build a fleet, join companies, attack Portuguese harbours, and found the spice trade. All these actions resulted in the goal of the roadmap. The result was amazing because due to the efforts of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the Netherlands experienced the Golden Age.

The strategic masterplan of Van Oldenbarnevelt triggers the following question: Does your organization have a winning strategy to successfully realize digital transformation? Do you have any doubts about this, and would you like to spar with our professionals? Please contact us for a good conversation.

Ps: For those who are wondering what happened to Van Oldenbarnevelt after all his successes.. Due to the incidents at the Battle of Nieuwpoort he and Maurits van Oranje engaged in a fierce power struggle. Van Oldenbarnevelt was eventually defeated and on 13 May 1619 he was decapitated on the scaffold at the Binnenhof.

Xeelas brings space technology to the construction site

Xeelas brings space technology to the construction site

If it works well in space, it works even better at the construction site! In space, quality and high-tech engineering take priority; the equipment must work in the most extreme circumstances. That is also the standard Xeelas applies to its products on earth. At the construction site you want everything to go as efficiently as possible and for that reason you need a perfect IoT technology. With the help of the Russian mechanical engineer pavel, a.k.a. ‘Rocket man’, we optimized our product design.

Pavel has worked within the space industry for years and is an excellent designer. He doesn’t like to discuss his work history too much. “Some projects are still classified”, says Pavel. Fortunately, he lifts a corner of the veil and says: “ was the Team Lead engineer for KHARTRON ICBM SS-18 ‘Satan’ control systems. I have worked on the control systems of the Energia rocket, solar panels, and a variety of other projects.” After that he sent some information on KHARTRON, his previous employer. KHARTRON is the company behind all the technical modules of the MIR-space station and the Zarya Cargo Module of the international space station ISS. It is one of the leading engineering firms that develops and produces spaceships and rocket operating systems.

Space technology in IoT

Pavel’s knowledge of the use of solar panels in space comes in handy for the development of remote monitoring at the construction site. How does it work?
Michaël Devid, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) of Xeelas explains: “On a satellite and space station, good radio reception is essential. A large surface with solar panels is used to generate power and at the same time functions as an antenna. The combination of solar panels and an antenna is often seen in the aerospace industry. We applied this part of aerospace technology to our IoT technology. Pavel developed two product types for the reception of GPS signals. His proposal was to develop solar panels which were twice the size of the circuit board. When you attach the solar panels to the circuit board in a certain way, you enlarge the antenna with the surface of the solar panels.


Applying aerospace principles optimizes our products on the following points:

1)   a much better reception of the GPS signal

2)   a highly accurate positioning

3)   more profits on energy savings

4)   lithium batteries which can also be recharged at temperatures far below the freezing point

5)   a longer battery life and lifespan of the components (15+ years)

Aerospace technology is a proven technology! That’s why Xeelas applies it to our engineering and why we invest in high-end products. Do you think this is interesting? Please contact us for more information.


Smart Entrepreneurship and Proactive Management within the Digital Era

Smart Entrepreneurship and Proactive Management within the Digital Era

We have noticed that many of our clients find it hard to integrate their corporate strategy and IT strategy with each other. It is the greatest management challenge of this century. Martec’s Law (2013, Scott Brinker) discusses this dilemma. It reads as follows:

“Technology changes exponentially,
yet organizations change logarithmically”.

Below: the graphic representation of Martec’s Law.

Everyone can see the rate at which technological developments occur in the world, and most of us can feel the impact daily. The areas of expertise psychology and sociology teach us that both individuals and groups need time to change their way of thinking and their behaviour. That implies that organizations – the way they think and behave – change arduously and slowly. Within the context of Martec’s Law they lose valuable time because technological changes don’t wait. However, at the same time you can’t force changes within organizations.

Technology changes faster than organizations can absorb changes. According to Martec’s Law this creates an increasing gap between the technological changes and the adaptability of the organization.

So, what is a good approach to adapt as much as possible in the digital era in spite of it?

Smart entrepreneurship and Proactive Management

You can let your organization change with the technological developments at its own pace. The critical component is MAKING CHOICES! Decisions within an organization regarding which new technologies match the company culture must be taken continuously and quickly. Which can best be incorporated in the activities and company culture? Get rid of the half-baked ideas and trials. Ask yourself the following question: how do I move my employees from a ‘we have to’ mindset to a ‘we want to’ mindset? In short, the crux of good technology management is proactive management and smart entrepreneurship. By choosing consciously and having a clear idea of which technological changes are most in line with the general strategy of the organization, your business can meet its goals.

Do you want to be a smart entrepreneur and manage proactively in a digital era? Could you use some help with that? Are you curious to find out how we can assist you? Please contact us for an introductory conversation.

PS: See for yourself:

  • Do you recognize the assumptions of Martec’s Law within your organization?
  • Do you see solutions for the gap between fast technological developments and the adaptability of your organization?