Aertssen Group is growing rapidly, and consultancy firm EY have recognised this by including the construction firm on its shortlist of four candidates for Entrepreneur of the Year 2021. Alongside continued growth and impressive results, innovation is another important criterion for this award. And CIO Pascal Kieboom is playing a crucial role here, which is particularly remarkable as he only started working for the company just before the first lockdown. Kieboom has used this time to define a number of main areas to make the company technologically future-proof, and he has an extremely useful sounding board for this in the form of Cronos.
‘As a business, you need to be continuously updating and innovating – and it’s my role to lead this process along the right track,’ begins Pascal Kieboom, CIO of Aertssen Group. ‘I’m not afraid of change; it’s tunnel vision that concerns me. I have my own views and ideas about Aertssen’s digital future, but it makes sense to get a second opinion, and De Cronos Groep is the ideal sounding board for this. They will test and challenge my strategy before contributing with operational assistance to upgrade our organisation’s technology.’
As CIO, Pascal Kieboom is responsible for providing effective and efficient IT services to forty business units around the world. As well as being able to function properly, it’s also important for them to know how their budgets are helping to develop the IT shared service and guaranteeing its quality.
‘They’re fully entitled to know what they’re paying for,’ says Pascal Kieboom, ‘but explaining everything can be a challenge because IT isn’t limited to just the server room anymore. There are lots of different aspects to consider now, including everything from cloud computing, low-code development, collaborative platforms, Industry 4.0 and more – so providing all the details can be complicated.’
‘I’m not afraid of change; it’s tunnel vision that concerns me.’
That’s why he called on the comprehensive expertise and services offered by RMDY from De Cronos Groep. ‘They’re much more than just IT professionals. I asked them to illustrate our IT strategy visually, and they presented it as a city map. So when you hover over a building, RMDY’s tool shows you what we do in that area, which is really useful because it helps me to explain everything in simple terms. Visualising our IT in this innovative way means even people who aren’t ICT experts can understand.’
Pascal Kieboom knows De Cronos Groep very well. ‘I’ve been working with Cronos for 25 years already. They made a really clever strategic decision to invest in smaller business constellations with two managing partners in charge of each, so you can count on top expertise and full responsibility at the same time. People often say the strength of a group is in the sum of its parts, but all the parts are already really strong on their own at Cronos. I don’t just go looking for the cheapest consultant for each project – price is obviously still important but it can’t be the only factor. The strategy we outline needs to be implemented correctly, on time and within budget. And that’s all guaranteed with Cronos.’
Nimbuz is one of Pascal Kieboom’s contacts who’s very familiar with the structure of the organisation. Or rather: both organisations. Nimbuz always proposes subcontractors with the right skills and expertise – who are also a good match for the way Aertssen operates – for each project. Besides RMDY, there’s Kohera who is working on a data warehouse project to build a generic BI tool for different applications, for example, and iFacto is helping the construction company to implement Microsoft Dynamics 365. Bluu is taking care of all the other Microsoft applications, Exsertus is developing software and The Flow is working on a new intranet.
All these projects are part of Pascal Kieboom’s target architecture, one of his main IT objectives. ‘We’ve set goals, both for our applications and our network,’ explains Pascal Kieboom. ‘You can be more flexible if you have good foundations, so even though our target architecture is constantly changing and very versatile, it’s built on solid foundations. We had to make a number of technological choices for this, because I don’t necessarily just believe in best-of-breed. With Cronos, I’m focusing on Microsoft technology, and we also have other strategic partnerships with Cisco and Egnyte.’
The CIO is also working on citizen development in his organisation. This is the principle whereby non-technical employees can create low-threshold applications themselves using low-code development software.
‘It allows our business units to be even more flexible. We already have workers in our garages developing apps in the evenings. “Low-code” doesn’t mean you don’t need a feeling for technology, but the new generation of workers already have these skills anyway. You get more out of tech by bringing the intelligence of data closer to users, and we can count on De Cronos Groep to help implement citizen development, both in terms of technology and training,’ concludes the CIO.
Aertssen Group from Antwerp (Stabroek) specialises in construction and civil engineering works, earthmoving, demolition and restoration, roadbuilding, crane work, transport and logistics. The company was founded almost sixty years ago and now operates in over thirty countries with 1500 employees.
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