New blood for our New Business Department
Last year, we said goodbye to two of our business developers, Hubert Welleman and Daniël Federer. Their successors – Sjoerd van Gellecum and Inge de Olde – have been talking about their passion for proposition development. "You've got the opportunity here to introduce propositions that really add value."
A new world
Sjoerd has spent much of his career in the telecoms industry as a proposition marketer for Nokia and Vodafone. Inge has a background in communications and experience as a proposition developer at a big insurance company. "I liked the idea of getting to know a new industry and working for a smaller organisation," says Inge. "And SIDN's social mission appealed to me as well. Although I haven't worked in the internet industry before, I've always had an affinity with the internet. But I've discovered a whole new world since coming here!"
Newcomers always see an organisation with fresh eyes. So what struck our two marketing recruits when they arrived? Sjoerd: "With SIDN being a not-for-profit foundation, I hadn't expected it to be so entrepreneurial. At the same time, everyone is really engaged and motivated." Inge was particularly impressed by the high quality standards: "Everything has to be the best. The registry services need to meet very high standards, of course, but similar expectations apply to every new initiative as well."
|Inge de Olde (Foto: Lizet Beek)|
Sjoerd and Inge have spent years developing propositions for commercial operations. So you might think that switching to a not-for-profit organisation like SIDN would be a culture shock. Yet, according to Sjoerd, he and Inge work in much the same way as they did elsewhere. "As a proposition developer, you're always looking for sustainable business models. SIDN may not exist to make money, but that doesn't mean it can deliver services for free. Besides, registrars are very important to the way SIDN operates. And registrars are commercial enterprises." Nevertheless, Inge acknowledges that the landscape is unlike others she's worked in. "SIDN occupies a special position and has special customers and stakeholders. That possibly translates into a longer time horizon than many commercial organisations have. As a result, you've got the opportunity here to introduce propositions that really add value."
Where does the idea for a new product or service come from? SIDN has identified three fields where it can offer added value: digital security, digital identity and digital usability. "Those are all quite broad concepts," says Sjoerd. "To arrive at a proposition, we need to be more specific. We do research, we read a lot, we follow trends and we talk to people. That brings things to your attention, which you then zoom in on."
|Sjoerd van Gellecum|
Becoming more agile
Asked about topics currently on the agenda, Sjoerd highlights two. "We're investigating whether we can contribute to on-line consumer confidence. Many consumers are a little hesitant or nervous about using webshops and service providers they don't know. We think that there may be a role for SIDN in providing reassurance. Another exciting prospect is SPIN: a security concept developed for the Internet of Things by SIDN Labs. We'll be working with Labs to see whether we can come up with an attractive proposition based on SPIN." Inge adds: "Our link-up with Connectis offers opportunities as well. Connectis delivers attractive identity solutions and we're working with the .nl registrars to translate those solutions into actual service offerings. The great thing is that all these ideas clearly contribute to easier and safer digital living."
As well as developing new propositions, Sjoerd and Inge are looking to adapt the work process. "We want to become more agile," says Inge. "Our aim is to introduce two propositions in 2018. To end up with two workable propositions, you have to generate lots of ideas. But exploring ideas takes time, so ideally you want to eliminate the less promising ones as early as possible. That's the most efficient way of developing propositions with the potential to become successful products or services. Propositions with ample added value."
What challenges does a proposition developer face? "The hardest part of the job is making choices," Sjoerd replies. "It can be hard to let go of ideas you've been working on. Your ideas are your babies; you can't cast them aside just like that. It's like picking the national football team: you've got all these great players to choose from, but you can only put eleven in your starting line-up. And, whatever you decide, people are going to say, 'Why didn't you pick so-and-so?'" Inge sees prioritisation as a challenge as well. "We aren't in a position to pursue ten projects at the same time. So you have to decide what has priority. Proposition development is like solving a puzzle. It can seem daunting, but when you crack it, it feels great!"