“IT WAS THE RIGHT TIME FOR THIS PROGRAM, BOTH FOR HEIJMANS AND FOR MYSELF”
“Due to my background in architecture, building and planning, I was already familiar with the business side of things. Now I know the IT side as well and can unite those two worlds.” The speaker is Joost van de Koppel. Halfway through his completion of the TIAS Executive Master of Information Management and Digital Transformations (MIMDT) , he switched from working as an Information Manager at Heijmans Utiliteit, managing large projects and contracts, to a role as Digital Transformation Manager at the same company, bridging the gap between business and IT.
One of Joost’s reasons to do the TIAS master was that in his previous position as Information Manager, he worked on projects that inspired company-wide, fundamental questions about IT. “These were strategic questions specifically relating to information management. In discussions with colleagues also involved in digitization, I found that this work was leading us to ask various fundamental questions. For example, “What should we do ourselves, and what should we outsource? If we do, which partners would this involve? What is the future role of a centralized IT department?”
BROADER, DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF IT
Another reason for Joost, who is originally educated in architecture, building and planning, to do the TIAS master was to improve his understanding of various IT aspects so as to better fulfill his role as an Information Manager. “I wanted to learn how information systems could help with or even solve business issues. I wanted to delve deeper into how IT and business intersect, to be able to unite those two worlds.” While attending the program, Joost took on a new role as Digital Transformation Manager, making that broader, deeper understanding of IT even more desirable and sensible.
“I wanted to delve deeper into how IT and business intersect.”
When searching for the right IT program, Joost decided on the TIAS Master because the content was a good match for his questions. “The subjects of the various modules were exactly what I wished to learn more about. Furthermore, I believed a longer program would give me a broader understanding of the field. My new role’s wider scope also meant I could put the knowledge acquired during lectures into practice immediately.”
Name Joost van de Koppel
Position Digital Transformation Manager at Heijmans Utiliteit. In this role, Joost is responsible for designing digitization plans to fit his company’s business strategy. His duties focus on the interface between business and IT. He is the company’s point of contact on this topic. His duties include supporting the board in decision-making, as well as digitization-related portfolio management and the establishment of an appropriate framework for the implementation and acceleration of digitization plans. Besides the IT framework, that also refers to, for example, the leadership skills required to accomplish these plans.
Study program Executive Master of Information Management and Digital Transformations (MIMDT) “Traditionally, IT strategy is often led by the business strategy. These days, however, products and services are increasingly interwoven with the underlying IT and OT. That means you need to merge your IT and business strategies into a unified, digital business strategy.”
As Joost says, the various topics addressed during the master helped him get a handle on his new role and advise the business on ways to approach and speed up the Heijmans Utiliteit business unit’s digital transformation. “Like many other companies, Heijmans wants to use digitization to improve our own processes and make them more efficient. A range of market developments contributed to this decision, labor shortages for example. Digitization is a great way for us to increase our efficiency and address those trends. Additionally, we want to transition towards new revenue models and will likely need to adapt our existing model to stay futureproof. Those are some pretty big issues.”
Insight into the relationship between day-to-day operational management, strategic needs and IT processes Joost: “At our company, insight into the relationship between day-to-day operational management, strategic needs and IT processes is highly relevant. It’s a huge part of my own role. I’m especially interested in the translation of that relationship into an IT strategy aligned with our business strategy. This topic is mainly addressed during the first part of the program, but continues to receive attention throughout. That was very useful in helping me translate our business strategy into an IT strategy in such a way that the two reinforced one another. We can see that IT and business strategies are starting to merge into a unified, digital business strategy. This is important if you are aiming to develop new revenue models which are strongly digitally driven. In such cases, increasingly, your IT strategy is also your business strategy. This portion of the program concentrates on how to implement that for your existing operations.”
Integrating information and business security Regarding the Security component, Joost most appreciated learning what a good security process should look like. “How to embed security in a company, how to identify the risks and which measures to take in response. It really helped me support our business in figuring out our greatest vulnerabilities. We do have a Security Office with a team of Security Officers as well, of course. While those people are deeply knowledgeable about information security and the various measures you can take, they won’t necessarily be aware of specific business risks. That’s much more my own area of expertise. For example, the utility buildings we build contain increasing amounts of smart technology. This is a trend that will only accelerate going forwards. This increases the potential attack surface for threat actors. That exposes us to new threats that are more easily understood from a business perspective. Thanks to this master program, my discussions with our Security Office are much more targeted, allowing us to manage those risks properly.
Business opportunities due to new technologies “What I appreciated most about the module on business opportunities generated by new technologies such as the Internet of Things, blockchain and similar is the insight that business and technology perspectives should go hand in hand. What often happens, including at my own company, is that new technologies are mainly considered on their technical merits: “Something new, ooh shiny! Let’s do it!” However, which technologies may prove useful is heavily driven by your business. You need to know what purpose they will serve, both in your company and towards your customers. What is the market doing? What do your customers actually want? How will you meet those needs? This is what ultimately determines which technologies to use. Understanding that well is very valuable, because it helps you make the right choices.
‘What are my specific leadership skills, and how can I use these to achieve lasting change?’
CHANGE MANAGEMENT AND PERSONAL LEADERSHIP
“Unlike the other modules, which conclude by applying your newly acquired knowledge to a case at your own company, the Change Management component mainly focuses on your own role within the company,” Joost continues. “You ask yourself, ‘What is my approach to certain processes and how could that be different from a change management perspective?’ The Personal Leadership component fits in well with this. ‘What are my specific leadership skills, and how can I use these to achieve lasting change?’ Additionally, the Personal Leadership component focuses on, ‘Where am I now and where do I want to be headed? Which leadership skills fit that desire?’ and ‘How does this relate to the culture at my company?’
Getting the digitization process moving “The program’s attention to personal leadership gained me a level of general awareness and made me more aware of my own strengths and weaknesses, including in my current role. An important part of that role is stakeholder management; creating an internal network to get everyone on board. I am in constant communication with many different people. I act as a sort of ‘broker,’ mediating between all the other stakeholders to get the digitization process moving. The input on personal leadership helped me take a good look at how this is done. How do you get people on board?”
DEVELOPING A VISION AND GOVERNANCE
Joost is currently hard at work loading up Heijmans Utiliteit’s digitization strategy. This involves the use of tooling presented during the program, as part of the component on developing a vision on IT and business to facilitate well-reasoned decisions that support your business strategy. “In two two-day workshops with a variety of stakeholders, we used these tools to distill market and customer trends into the required IT technology: What are our internal drivers and external drivers? Which propositions do we want to develop in response to these trends? Which ones will or won’t we proceed with? Which organizational and technological requirements will that entail?”
Developing a new governance model Developing and implementing digitization plans can necessitate some pretty big changes in governance relating to digitization. This was another topic that received extensive attention during the program. “We are currently hard at work on the design of a new governance model. That involves certain changes, which means I’ve been making good use of those insights on change management. The knowledge and insights I gained on this topic again proved very helpful.”
VALUE OF DIVERSE FELLOW STUDENTS AND LECTURERS
Joost was the only student from an engineering company in his year at TIAS. “Our group of students contained a mix of people in government, education and industry. When they shared their own knowledge, experiences and examples from practice, that confirmed that my organization wasn’t the only one struggling with certain issues, or approaching issues in a certain way. It was also useful to encounter those diverse people’s different ways of working and perspectives, which I could then apply to my own company. The lecturers and guest speakers were very diverse as well. There were over seventy different guest speakers, many of whom were authorities on their specific subjects or had built up an impressive career in business. That was both interesting and instructive. The lecturers made good use of examples from practice, how they achieved their own company’s digital transformation for instance.”
“What also has a direct impact on your company is that you conclude every module by writing a paper about your own organization.”
FAST ROI FOR THE COMPANY
In conclusion, Joost feels that the program broadened his understanding and has allowed him to bridge the gap between IT and business. “Due to my background in architecture, building and planning, I was already familiar with the business side of things. Now I know the IT side as well and can unite those two worlds.” What also had a direct impact on my company is that you conclude every module by writing a paper about your own organization. Because of that immediate benefit, you dive deeper and really take the time to research how things work at your own company and what could be improved. Much of what I learned gets applied daily in my work. It was the right time and place, both for Heijmans and for myself.”
Joost’s advice to others considering this program
“If you want to make a difference to your company regarding the interface between business and IT and really have an impact, this program is a great choice. If you’ve just started working as an Information Manager for a new employer, you should probably get to know your company better first. That way it’ll
Bridging the gap between business and it
These are turbulent times for businesses, government agencies and non-profits. Businesses require appropriate technological solutions to fit dynamically changing needs. They are also heavily affected by compliance, data security and the platform economy, which impact both their technology and their organization. How do you successfully implement new technologies? What will your business model look like?
The Executive Master of Information Management and Digital Transformations (MIMDT) gives you practical, immediately applicable skills and knowledge you can use to bridge the gap between business and IT. Download the brochure to discover if this is the program for you.
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