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Welcome To Digital 2.0:
The Modern Digital Executive Interview Series.
Episode 1 / April 19, 2022
Digital 2.0 Episode 1: Christian van den Branden, CTO of Qualifacts
In the inaugural episode of Digital 2.0, Matthew Schaub interviews Christian van den Branden of Qualifacts to get his perspective on how businesses can embrace innovative digital transformation.
Digital 2.0 is an interview series dedicated to interviewing the best and brightest senior digital executives around the world that have taken a stance on the importance of Digital within their organizations and are helping everyone understand the role of technology in our everyday lives.
Episode 1 / April 19, 2022
What Companies Can Do to Activate Digital Transformation as We Look Towards the Future of Business Innovation

In today’s world of rapidly developing technology and user demands which change in the blink of an eye, keeping up with the trends and the market has become both more important and harder than ever before.

This is exactly the topic I brought up with Christian van den Branden, the CTO at Qualifacts, an expert on digital platforms and company transformation. He also has the most important role in the technology direction of Qualifacts’ three Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms

We covered a broad range of subjects. His experience, the lessons he learned, what innovation means to him, and his predictions for the next ten years among others. The information he shared was invaluable, and I’m sure it will be of great use to anyone reading what he had to say.

Biggest Lessons Learned About Transforming Companies Digitally
  • When I say that Christian is an expert, I mean it. He’s been in the industry for over 25 years and has worked on infrastructure systems, buildings, security systems, and DevOps systems.

    What he found with those companies is that they had a much easier time transforming because that was their primary goal. Technology was the very nature of who they were.

    It’s all about vision.

    Qualifacts is a software company. Yes, the end goal is to help people with their behavioral care, but they sell to an audience that’s really looking at technology to solve a different problem than someone who’s buying a storage system, a security system, or doing their engineering themselves.

    Similarly, you need to connect the technology to a business context. You need to understand your client’s needs, how they connect to the technology world, and where they’ll be in five or ten years. When it comes to large scale and long term strategies like this, it’s not only about the technology, it’s about the future business of the company.

    Another thing to consider is what you shouldn’t do. It’s important to figure out what you’re going to leave behind, what you’re going to exclude from your effort, so you can focus on your objectives.

    It’s important to have the right talent to handle the work. You need to either hire the right talent or partner with the right firms that can provide you with the right expertise to make your project a successful one.

    For example, if your client’s business is focused on financial services, healthcare, or revenue, you need to partner with firms that can bring you up to date with data, listen to your context, guide you in the selection of technology, and even provide you with a team to help you carry out the work long term.

    That’s why Qualifacts partnered with us at PrimeTSR. We help them tackle all the difficult problems, get to innovative solutions, and then create a good implementation of those solutions that they can rely on for years to come.
How Christian Defines Innovation

“To me, innovation is overused” was the first thing he said.He called it an overused term, whereby any new feature, anything more advanced in delivering your services is considered innovation.

To a degree, that might be the case. Some of your customers may see it that way.

To Christian, true innovation is how you solve a problem in a very effective way, or more effectively than what the industry has done before. The best example of innovation is “how do you solve a problem that the people you’re going to be delivering that solution to didn’t even know they had before?”

True innovation is difficult to do. It takes a chance, the right context, the right moment, and it takes brilliant people to achieve.

We’ve seen a few examples of this in the last few decades thanks to the way the internet has transformed things thanks to the public cloud and browser service.

Things That Will Impact Digital Innovation The Most
Before innovations can take place, you have to consider:

- What are your sector’s regulatory requirements

- How fast do these requirements adapt to technology, and

- If you are building on decade-old legalities with futuristic technologies.

Security threats will have the biggest impact on the speed of innovation and how it’s implemented.

As businesses get more sophisticated with their technology, the criminals also get sophisticated with their attacks and vice versa. The actions of cybercriminals can push you to adapt quickly, or they may slow you down.

Many of these policies and requirements are set by the government, which means things usually happen slower than we want them to. You can see it as a barrier or an opportunity.

Constraints don’t hinder our ability to be creative and innovative – they enhance it.

You have to understand the technology.

Shirley says, “You’re upgrading technology. You’re adapting. Whether you’re going to the cloud or researching AI, you’re looking at all these elements that continue to hit us, not even yearly, but almost every few months- but it’s about really understanding:

• How does it affect the customer experience?

• And how does it affect your employees?

• You have to see the interconnectedness of the tech and how it affects the whole.

• Is it a positive effect?

• Is it a zero net gain?

• Is it potentially negative?

Knowing the buzzwords isn’t enough- topical knowledge doesn’t cut it. Being the best requires practical experience with new tech in new spaces. It’s about measuring its impact all around you from inside the company and out.
Biggest Impact on Digital Innovation for the Next 10 Years

“To me, innovation is overused” was the first thing he said.I asked Christian what he saw as having the biggest impact on both him as an individual and on his company.

In the field I’m in today”, he said, “regulations and compliance have been highly important unlike in past roles.” They had always been one of his major concerns and drivers of his requirements both for his employees and from his clients and influenced the way he did things.

Another thing was the capabilities available to him at the time. He had to always be aware where the industry was going, so that he could remain competitive and make choices that allowed him to keep pace with the digital world.

As you figure out ways of delivering services digitally, or just become more competitive by modernizing the way you did it before, you have to keep track of whether your competitors have jumped ahead of you.

You need to make the right bets, and you cannot transform or modernize your company every two years. This is a five or ten year long bet you’re making.

“Public cloud capabilities are very important to us at the moment”, he told me.

He considers them highly important due to public feedback. People will often start a business journey, make great plans, start working on many activities towards the end goal of delivering a service. Then, they go into a long period of time without any feedback from their customers. That will often cause them to fail without even understanding why.

Public cloud methodologies handle this problem perfectly. They enable you to continuously deliver value, be able to validate your consumption, and get the correct feedback.

To a degree, that might be the case. Some of your customers may see it that way.

To Christian, true innovation is how you solve a problem in a very effective way, or more effectively than what the industry has done before. The best example of innovation is “how do you solve a problem that the people you’re going to be delivering that solution to didn’t even know they had before?”

Companies That Are Embracing Digital Innovation

The companies that succeed are the ones that continuously reinvent themselves.

No sacred cows.

No fear of change.

Find ways to put yourself out of business, or someone else will.

Sometimes the most remarkable examples of digital innovation come from unexpected places.

Take Natixis, an investment banking company. They’ve embraced cloud technologies faster than most companies. And certainly faster than any company that isn’t a hardcore SaaS provider.

Interestingly, they’re not even located in the epicenter of technology, Silicon Valley.

They’re based in Paris.

The banking industry is full of companies like this. So keep an eye out. You never know where innovation will come from.

A company like Microsoft could have stayed stuck.

They could have simply protected the recipe that made them successful in the past.

Instead, their business model today has almost nothing to do with where the company started.

Constant reinvention is much easier said than done, but it’s the fundamental thing keeping companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon at the forefront of the tech industry.

Digital 2.0 Hot Seat: Real, Hype, or WTF

My talk with Christian has been most enlightening on the fact of how important it is to keep up with technology and to be up to date with the digital world.

It’s a difficult and daunting task, but as long as you follow Christian’s advice and make sure you carefully monitor your customers’ feedback, you’ll have no trouble with it.

Thank you, Christian, for such an insightful interview.

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