As-a-What? The Trend From Ownership to Use

By Jean Pierre Overbeek
CEO, BIS Group

Monday morning. The alarm rings, a bit too early for my liking. I probably shouldn’t have watched the last two series on Netflix yesterday evening after the traditional Sunday evening football matches on TV… after the morning ritual of having a shower, getting dressed, having breakfast and coffee, I check my first emails of today on my tablet. I check out a number of social media sites and read some newspapers. The paper versions have ceased to exist a couple of years ago. This is now all digital with a handy app that selects the interesting newspapers for me. After saying goodbye to my family, I drive off to the office. I am one of the hundreds of thousands of Dutch people owning a company car. In the car, I enjoy good music for half an hour via Spotify on my mobile before the hectic pace of the day starts. No traffic jams today. Despite the slow start this morning, I arrive well on time at the office. A rental property by the way. We want to remain flexible with our housing because of the recent growth of our activity.

At the office, the first appointment of today is with our CFO. We have decided to analyze our gas, water and electricity consumption. With just over 220 employees, we are a medium-sized business user and because of the great dynamics in the energy market, this offers opportunities to also achieve our CSR ambitions in this field by dealing differently with our energy, e.g., start using green energy. In addition, it is an interesting session to gain insight into our costs again. In my private life I am also aware of this again thanks to the campaign of a major Rotterdam energy company giving insight into the energy consumption at consumers with ‘Toon’ by supplying a smart energy meter virtually for free at a new energy contract. This leads to great awareness.

After the appointment with our CFO, we have an evaluation with the management of our IT department. They are going through a busy period. We are in the middle of a migration to a new ERP system of Exact containing, among other things, HRM and CRM modules. All these solutions are cloud based. We have also provided all our employees with Microsoft Office 365 this year. In addition, we fully updated our entire printer park. The word printer park actually doesn’t cover it. Our copiers and scanners, together with the printers, have become so-called multi-functionals. Despite working more and more digitally, we believed that the time had come to update this park. In short, our IT specialists had quite a lot of pizza and Chinese takeaway at the offices in the last months… as much of the migration work is conducted after office hours.

In the meantime, I receive a call from one of my children. The Wi-Fi doesn’t work properly at home. With a number of assignments that they must carry out for school this is a rather big challenge. She cannot even access her iCloud files. At least, that’s the main reason. I presume that not being able to reach various social media sites also plays a role, but I give her the number of the help desk and wish her good luck. She has bad memories of the last school holidays, which was a more-than-great holiday by the way, but at the all-inclusive resort the Wi-Fi was less than great. We couldn’t even write home. So I had to explain to my youngest child what a postcard is. A great phenomenon. He grew up with WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat. “But dad, we will arrive home before the post card arrives? And how can grandpa and grandma reply to the card? Also with a postcard?” Suddenly I really feel 43.

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Why are some of the words in this article in bold, you may think? Well, that’s relatively easy. To my mind, all the things described above are not very revolutionary and truly recognizable to many people. I work for a great and dynamic business, which provides the business market of professional audiovisual and related IT solutions. A company characterized by rapidly changing innovations in the transfer of image and sound. A great business. Our organization provides solutions that increasingly end up in the so-called primary process at our clients. In other words, our business connections can often no longer carry out their work without our solutions. This year, we will provide approximately 6,000 spaces such as classrooms, auditoria, waiting and meeting rooms in hospitals, meeting rooms and conference rooms with these solutions. That’s why we consider IT and AV solutions as the fourth utility, in addition to gas, water and electricity. I can assure you, when on holiday — just like their peers — my children prefer good Wi-Fi and as fifth in the row (three children and mum and dad), a lukewarm shower over a hot shower, but no poor Wi-Fi.

In addition, all bold issues ended up in my life “as-a-service.” I pay a sum monthly for the service and I am flexible in its use. I haven’t purchased any of the bold issues — not in my private life and not for work either. For you probably the same applies.

That’s why, as an organization, we had the idea to offer our solutions and products in the same manner to our business connections. Yet a number of industry peers seem somewhat skeptical. Supply audiovisual solutions as a service? Solutions that virtually all need a hardware and/or software update after three years in their relatively short lifespan and after five years of upgrading or even a technology swap, we entirely change the products for new ones. Why would clients want this as a service?

My answer? Tell me one reason why not… all other utilities are also offered as a service.

This column was reprinted with permission from Jean Pierre Overbeek and originally appeared here.