What trends marked 2020 and how will they evolve in 2021? How has the SECO Group responded to these new trends and how do they think they will emerge as a winner from the crisis? We discussed this with Matthias Verberckmoes, IT Manager at the SECO Group.
What do you think were the main trends in 2020?
Matthias Verberckmoes: “Corona, of course, dominated the year 2020. The corona measures had a huge impact on digitalisation at companies. Many companies were already working on digitalisation before, but the scope was still often limited. Now it became crucial for all companies to find solutions as quickly as possible in order to digitalise their processes and switch to teleworking.”
How has your company responded to this?
“We at the SECO Group did not have an internal culture of working from home before. So when everyone suddenly had to start working remotely, we provided the necessary connectivity and digital tools to keep our employees working efficiently. In addition, we started working with customers and suppliers in a different way. We even carried out technical inspections using Teams video calls. At the time, it was a convenient solution. We may continue to carry out inspections in this way even after the corona crisis when appropriate.”
What do you see emerging as the main trends in 2021?
“The accelerated digitalisation resulting from the corona measures will create new business models. For example, companies can move towards hyper-automation in 2021. They can then use technologies such as Business Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence or the possibilities of the Internet of Things to offer new services to their customers. This also enables them to increasingly personalise their services. This is an important asset for companies because today’s customers expect a more personal service. This is a major challenge, especially for B2C-focused companies. I also see all companies paying more attention to IT security, a logical consequence of extensive digitalisation and intensive teleworking. We all realise that this also brings risks that you have to combat in various areas. Besides technical measures, raising employees’ awareness is also certainly necessary.”
What is your company doing to ensure it will be ahead of the curve when the corona crisis is over?
“The SECO Group was not negatively impacted by the corona crisis in 2020. For us, it was a year when we took a thorough look at how we can advance digitalisation in the future. In our sector, there is still some catching up to do in this area. However, for the construction sector too, digitalisation is no longer an option but a necessity. We at the SECO Group will certainly further automate our collaboration with customers and suppliers. In addition, we want to explore the possibilities of trends such as Artificial Intelligence, now that such technologies are more easily accessible thanks to the cloud. We are already working in a hybrid cloud environment, a combination of private cloud and public cloud. We house our business-critical applications in a private cloud, while the others run in the public cloud. This gives us much greater flexibility.”
“In addition, we now work more in an ‘agile’ way when developing applications. Instead of doing long preliminary studies, we produce a first software version more quickly. This requires a different corporate culture with more openness and willingness to experiment. For the SECO Group, this approach is important because it enables us to quickly adapt to changing regulations and new opportunities.”
The SECO Group provides certification services, technical inspections and advice for construction projects, buildings and infrastructure worldwide. The group has around 330 employees and offices in Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, France and Vietnam.