André van der Doelen
André van der Doelen:
“I want to add value for my customers”
Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, it was virtually a given that André would start his own business. He knew from early on that stepping into his father’s shoes and taking over the taxi business was not for him. The choice of working with software mainly came about based on a gut feeling.
“I have been a salaried worker, but the entrepreneurial spirit is in my blood. At DAF, I was asked to guide the computer centre and, looking back, that proved to be the turning point. It’s what introduced me to mainframes. All very interesting, but I’m no computer expert. So, from a small attic room, I started selling ink ribbons for large printers, followed by peripherals and PCs. I went from being a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond; a situation I couldn’t tolerate. So my search for a different branch to which I could add value was under way. In 1995, people thought that offices would be paperless within five years. My gut feeling was that there were opportunities here. Developing software aimed at making offices paperless seemed to me like a good option.
“As a result of this decision, my company had to do a complete turnaround. We stopped offering products and started offering solutions. That requires different skills, meaning different people. It was a difficult time, having to bid farewell to employees, some of whom had been working with me right from the start. Loyalty is important to me—that’s why the decision caused me so much pain—but it was necessary for the sake of the business. Whenever I encounter a problem, I solve it. Usually together with others, since you can’t do it all on your own. I need other people’s expertise, as well as their input on what I am doing.”
“The leitmotif running through our company has always been supporting processes in the value chain. We want to offer fantastic solutions that our customers can put to use effectively. We started by digitising hundreds of thousands of mortgage cases that would have, in the past, been stored in enormous mechanical filing cabinets. Our customers could see that digitisation was very useful. Increasingly, customers have been adding their own input during the processing operation, through things like customer self-service and collaboration for example.
Thanks to this, in terms of the process, we’ve been edging up over the years from the back office to the front office. And now we’re fully settled there.”
“Addressing customer needs flexibly is one of our guiding principles. We watch and listen closely to what is happening in the market and, based on this input, we come up with solutions our customers can really use. Over the next five years, we will be focusing on transparent, digital work processes that enable more efficient collaboration and open up new revenue models for our customers. Digitisation supports collaboration and makes processes less error-prone. It also provides data-based insights that enable you to implement various optimisations.
“I am proud that we have retained so many of our earliest customers. This means that we really are making the difference for them. The thing I like best about my work is when I can do something to help the customer, like where, thanks to our software, a company can grow without increasing its staff, while also enhancing the quality of the service it provides. If I were no longer able to add value to our customers’ activities and make these more efficient or in some other way better, I wouldn’t enjoy it any more.”