In February, Koen Van Beneden was named Managing Director of HP Belux. The IT One team recently met with the expert to discuss his journey, his objectives and missions as lead for the Belgium and Luxembourg regions, as well as the latest trends that are currently reshaping the ICT sector and transforming the work environment.
"After graduating as a mechanical engineer, I worked on an innovative project to build a race car powered by solar energy," first explains Koen Van Beneden, who was at that time responsible for business relations and got to work closely with HP. The Silicon Valley company actually was sponsoring the project and ended up hiring Koen, who, after 12 years with HP, recently became Manager Director for Belux. "I actually joined the company as an Inside Sales Representative and my role evolved as I became responsible for the Computing Business in Belgium and Luxembourg, and continued my journey to today manage the same region. I've always been passionate about technology, and have always been amazed by the way it can help people achieve more," he adds.
HP, the market leader in PC and Print, reinforced its computer division in Luxembourg about 6 years ago and keeps on investing in the country. Today, it employees approximately 20 experts, making it a significant and important office in the European region. "People in Luxembourg are very knowledgeable and are dedicated to making sure they make the right choice for their employees. It is especially true for CIOs and team managers who want to create the perfect landscape, work environment and even ecosystem so that their collaborators can perform. On the HP side, our seasoned experts have acquired a key knowledge of the local market which allows them to meet the clients' needs," highlights the Managing Director.
Moving towards a digital work environment
Koen van Beneden also discusses the current digital trends, and therefore the elements that are transforming companies and the way they work. "According to me, there are two big challenges for CIOs and companies in terms of digital: the first one revolves around the transformation of business models. Companies have realized that the data they capture is of high value and that they can notably improve their efficiency and results. With the use of AI, big data, automation, etc., they clearly see digital as a key opportunity to simply be better at what they do and outperform their competitors. It is now high on the agenda of CIOs, who are aware that business models will keep on evolving," highlights the Managing Director.
As a second game-changer, Koen van Beneden underlines the fact that companies are now investing a lot to provide their employees with the appropriate and modern work environment. He adds: "in Luxembourg, about 60% of the workforce is composed of knowledge workers and their workplace – and work environment in general – is key. Moreover, they are more and more working from different locations, in project teams rather than in fixed teams, for different customers, etc. In other words, they need more flexibility". In such a context, companies are offering tailored choices to their collaborators. For instance, PCs used to be the same for all employees, when today most companies are profiling their workforce, choosing about 4-6 profiles with different needs, in terms of hardware, services and printing. "Basically, they are making sure each group in the company can optimize its work and performance. Digital is enabling the workforce and the business model to grow," comments the expert.
As explained by Koen van Beneden, HP can now take over part of the responsibility as it co-develops solutions with the companies and offers what is called "device-as-a-service". "We do the equipment part which starts with a profiling exercise, discuss logistics and services, etc. To sum up, we make sure that the right environment is there so that the experts of the company can focus on big data, AI, and other trends," he highlights.
Keeping a close eye on upcoming tech trends
"We do it for several reasons", adds Koen van Beneden, who continues: "first of all, because we are an employer ourselves and need to be very aware of what is happening in our own work environment". He also underlines the big shift between the generations that currently work together, from generations X, Y and Z to still some older baby boomers. Their different needs have to be addressed, on the hardware level but also on the cultural aspect. He explains: "in this respect, companies need to focus on these key elements, because sometimes these generations do not understand each other. For instance, the way they handle a project is totally different: the youngsters might send messages in a WhatsApp conversation in the middle of the night, when the older generation might wait for the next meeting to share their ideas. As an employer, you need to make sure you capture the strengths of each generation and build an environment – and culture – which allows them to work together". Also, in a world where companies struggle to recruit and retain talents, building such strategies could help them find new ways to reach out to young collaborators.
Furthermore, the expert adds that HP is currently building a new field of business focusing on 3D printing: "it is becoming huge not only in prototyping but also in manufacturing. 3D printing is now a key aspect for companies that are active in these fields, and notably in the car industry. They are using digital technologies to change their business models".
In the upcoming months, Koen van Beneden plans to getting to know the Belux experts of the Print division and then initiate "small changes in a big boat" with the main goal to improve the efficiency of the teams and of course, increase client satisfaction.
Interview by Alexandre Keilmann
Publié le 30 mars 2020