By Cliff de Laat

One of the key principles for Middle managers in Agile environments is choosing to focus on trust over control. In my personal experience I have seen Middle managers offering a lot of space and trust in which people are really empowered to be their best self at work. The complete opposite, I have also seen Middle managers trying to control every situation. Not allowing any room for failure or growing of the talents of the team.

Our Middle managers are caught between a rock and a hard place. Targets from their bosses and the teams struggling to deliver on their challenges. It is not easy but nobody ever said it was easy. It requires some bravery but I believe this is one of the key-principles to get the right results. This principle acknowledges the need to empower teams, foster collaboration, and encourage autonomy, while also providing the necessary guidance and oversight to ensure alignment with organizational goals and objectives.

1.     Trust as the Foundation: Trust is the cornerstone of Agile environments. Middle managers should trust their teams to make informed decisions, take ownership of their work, and deliver value. By enforcing an environment of trust, Middle managers enable teams to self-organize and become more innovative, motivated, and productive. Trust empowers individuals and promotes a culture of accountability, where team members are encouraged to take risks and learn from their experiences.

2.     Empowerment through Autonomy: Middle managers should empower teams by granting them autonomy. This means allowing teams to have control over their work processes, task allocation, and decision-making. Empowered teams are more likely to take ownership of their work, collaborate effectively, and find creative solutions to problems. Middle managers should provide support and resources while avoiding unnecessary micromanagement. This enables teams to adapt quickly to changing requirements and improves their overall performance.

3.     Balance with Necessary Control: While trust and autonomy are essential, Middle managers also need to maintain a certain level of control to ensure alignment with organizational goals. They should establish well-defined boundaries and guidelines, ensuring that teams operate within the agreed-upon frameworks. This includes periodic check-ins, progress reviews, and monitoring of key metrics to ensure that projects are on track. However, control should be exercised in a way that doesn’t stifle creativity or hinder the agility of teams.

We look at our principles in the same manner as the Agile manifesto. Although we value the items on the right (Control) we value the items on the left more (Trust).

By Cliff de Laat

I have been involved in many organizations that have made the transition to an Agile way-of-working. In the role of either manager, program/project manager, product owner, or team member. In my personal experience, there was one key factor, one make-or-break role making the Agile way-of-working a dream or a living nightmare. This is the middle manager, team leader, department manager, etc. 

They either support or hinder success. Their role involves executing tasks at a tactical level, managing teams, and developing talent. As a consultant, I have heard colleagues at other firms criticize these managers as redundant or a waste of resources. My personal opinion differs significantly. In Agile contexts, middle managers play a crucial role in facilitating effective communication, fostering collaboration, and ensuring that Agile principles and practices are upheld. The following reasons explain the value of middle management: 

  1. Bridging the Gap: Middle managers translate organizational goals into actionable plans for Agile teams, aligning strategic objectives with Agile initiatives. 
  2. Facilitating Communication: They serve as communication channels between senior leadership, Agile teams, and stakeholders, ensuring alignment and resolving conflicts. 
  3. Supporting Team Autonomy: Middle managers provide resources, guidance, and mentorship to empower self-organizing teams, removing obstacles and fostering innovation. 
  4. Promoting Agile Mindset: They advocate for Agile principles, educate stakeholders, and champion successful Agile implementations to foster an adaptive culture. 
  5. Aligning Performance Management: Middle managers align individual and team goals with organizational objectives, providing coaching and feedback to foster growth. 

The middle manager is critical to the success of an agile department. I have witnessed successful managers identifying when to intervene and when to enable their teams to resolve problems. In my recent experience, I have seen some managers act as the spokesperson for the team, thereby relieving the team of accountability for their actions. As I believe that many organizations and middle managers struggle with making the right decisions, I felt the need to contribute to the community. 

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a few principles on my LinkedIn that can serve as a kind of Middle Manager Manifesto (MMM, no pun intended 😁). I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences. Let’s support our middle managers to make our companies successful with them as our hero leaders! 💪 

Arbo Unie promotes working people’s vitality and health, and with that makes organizations more successful. Based on the motto ‘feeling good’, the focus is on the best possible working conditions. Data and technology can help to achieve this, the board realized. The challenge was to translate this vision into actual tangible value. Chief Health Officer Willem van Rhenen and Tim Beswick of Anderson MacGyver explain how the groundwork was laid for this. 

“The value of digital solutions was well proven during the corona pandemic,” says Willem van Rhenen, CHO and BoD member of the approximately 800-employee, seven-label Arbo Unie. “The  pandemic amplified the need for innovation and has made us even more aware of how data and technology can contribute to realizing our strategic ambition: the most progressive health and safety service provider that keeps people vital and healthy.” 

Data value is still something abstract within many organizations, according to Tim Beswick, who is involved as program manager from Anderson MacGyver. “They find it difficult to  go from a vision to tangible business impact.” Van Rhenen adds: “Many companies are sitting on a gold mine of data, but they have to make the effort to go digging.” 

Many companies are sitting on a gold mine of data, but they have to make the effort to go digging

Willem van Rhenen – Chief Health Officer at Arbo Unie

Moreover, the quest for improvement and value was driven by a different kind of pressure. With the rapid advance of digital solutions, Arbo Unie’s Chief Health Officer says it is not inconceivable that at some point a fully data-driven competitor will emerge. “Look at the rise of a phenomenon like ChatGPT. If you are aware of what is possible in terms of data and algorithms, then you understand that as an organization you have to do something with this.” 

Predictive model
By the way, Arbo Unie was already doing interesting things with data. Years ago, a model was created to predict long-term absenteeism among its 1.2 million employees served. “That was also based on data and an algorithm,” Van Rhenen said. But to move forward more was needed. In late 2021, Anderson MacGyver joined, and shortly thereafter Anna Geraedts was appointed Data Science Manager. Then Bas de Wit joined as Chief Information Officer. A multidisciplinary collaboration was eventually established with people from Arbo Unie, Anderson MacGyver, and Inergy, which specializes in data and analytics. 

Tim Beswick: “As an organization, you really have to believe in the value of data and join forces across the organization to make that happen. Just having a strategy or conviction at the top or a group of data professionals on an island will not get you there. The support from the board is crucial and data professionals are important, but ultimately it is about realizing an organization-wide collaboration – including the users. Our first step was to create a program design together with all stakeholders; from business value-related goals to a structure in which we created concrete data products while working on a sustainable data foundation.”

The availability of data is important to Arbo Unie because it leads to new insights. Van Rhenen, also professor of Engagement & Productivity at Nyenrode Business University, calls it an addition to the scientific method of review, confirmation, or refutation. “Traditionally, you take ‘evidence-based’ decisions, which are supported by facts after research. With the availability of data, you can also turn that around: based on trends and patterns, the data itself can give rise to something.” 

As an example, the Chief Health Officer cites the formal distinction between a mostly work-related burnout and a mental disorder such as depression, where, based on data, there may be an overlap in symptoms. By approaching seemingly different issues unbiasedly from the right data, you may be able to resolve them in a corresponding way. “That’s an interesting side benefit.” 

The concept of circularity also plays a role: the data generated in the process is enriched with new data and insights, possibly from other sources, and then goes back into the process. “This is how we make our services better and better,” said Willem van Rhenen. 

Five streams
The data program within Arbo Unie was organized into five streams: realizing data awareness, governance, and organization, the data foundation, platform & data product realization, and materializing the potential value by defining, prioritizing, and planning the data initiatives. 

 “Those were all journeys of discovery,” Beswick says. “It was a constant search for the right balance between things under the hood, such as data architecture and data quality in the foundation, and the business impact through value-producing data products. We made step-by-step decisions in close collaboration with user groups; always based on business priorities. Multidisciplinary teams took responsibility for completing the concrete actions in their domain.” 

It was a constant search for balance between under-the-hood things and the business impact of data

Tim Beswick – Management Consultant at Anderson MacGyver

“The competencies within the core team and in the streams were very complementary and worked well together,” says Van Rhenen. “People cared about each other and reasoned not from individual interests, but from the bigger picture. Also, Anderson MacGyver was really part of the whole. This was largely to Tim’s credit. He pulled it off the ground together with Anna Geraedts and that deserves a 10-plus as far as I’m concerned.” 

According to Willem van Rhenen the director, the best result is an energetic club of about a dozen data professionals who look at the business from a holistic perspective and seek cooperation. “The child and teen phases are already behind us and we now have an adolescent data organization. We are creating value and in doing so we have made more progress and impact than I had previously hoped.” 

Tim Beswick makes the comparison to a snowball. “Data is spread throughout the organization like snow on the ground ready to be rolled up by the snowball that we created and got moving – also by the business.”  

“The next step for the data department is to dare to step up and claim this value as well,” concludes Willem van Rhenen. “After all, our future strength will be determined by this team in cooperation with the rest of the organization. You can see that happening now: people are moving along and becoming aware of the possibilities. A lot has happened and been achieved in a year and a half.” 

By Anton Bubberman 
In addition to my work as a management consultant, I recently started as Guild lead Data at Anderson MacGyver. Data is a subject I could talk about for hours, but in this blog, I like to combine it with another passion. I love making music. Sometimes I do it alone, but preferably with others. From acoustically accompanying a singer-songwriter to playing bass or guitar in a big band. And everything in between. 

You won’t get far in a band without structure and agreements. You have to understand what you have to do, what the division of roles is, who your audience is, and what to bring to a performance. There is a nice parallel to be drawn with organizations that want to get more value from their data. It is always an interplay and it is necessary to be clear about the goals, the division of roles, and what you need, technical or otherwise, to achieve them. Everyone on the same page? Fine! But it takes more than that to make it swing. 

The same language 
As a musician, you can know everything about the way sounds are created physiologically and what is pleasing to the ear or not. Yet we do not usually speak in vibration frequencies, overtones, and other scientifically explainable concepts. Musicians do have their own idiom: pitch, chord progressions, rhythm, and feel are the means of communication to achieve a result together. Listeners do not need to know this jargon. They are perfectly capable of naming whether the music touches them or gives them a feeling of dancing. I dare say the listener will notice if the band is mismatched in any of the aforementioned aspects. 

Data management gurus can often spend hours talking about academic concepts around data. On the shop floor, it is especially important that we understand the complexity, but create a common and especially practical language that everyone involved understands. How do we define data quality, what integration agreements do we make with each other and what is the “golden record”? This allows us to act together and deliver value to users. Above all, users of dashboards and reports want their report to work. Like listeners of music, they often know nothing about the agreed-upon language, but flawlessly sense when something is wrong in that area. 

Foundation for improvisation 
The analogy goes even further. When a foundation is in place and rhythm is built together, it becomes a lot easier to improvise. Is a song coming across well with the audience? Then it can be extended spontaneously, with an extra solo. Or the music is stopped for a moment, so the audience can clap and sing along loudly. Does it appear during the performance that more energy is needed or just a moment of rest? Then we play something else. This requires a good foundation and trust. 

Extending this to data: based on a good foundation, you can switch very quickly when necessary. For example, a marketing department is already successfully using algorithms to target potential customers personally through online campaigns. The right data is available, the quality is under control, it is clear what is legally allowed, the right technical instruments (tools) are available and the team knows how to use them. This also leaves room for improvisation. If new trends or opportunities are spotted, it is possible to combine the available data in a different way, slightly extend the algorithm, and thereby easily set up new campaigns. 

Let’s see if we can develop a common language for your organization: with a rhythm and feel that fits your possibilities, wishes, and context. With the right frames for jamming – strict enough to really get things swinging. 

Traveling from A to B has similarities to the digital journey many companies go through. By moving we look at the world from a different perspective: our business, stakeholders, and our customers, stated chairwoman Crystal Reijnen during the kickoff of Anderson MacGyver’s most recent CIO Masterclass. “This is how you discover new ways of creating value, other markets, and possible new market positions.” 

Contrary to what the word “journey” might suggest in terms of etymology, according to the eloquent Management Consultant from Anderson MacGyver, this is by no means done in a day. During the CIO Masterclass in IJsselstein, her colleague David Jongste and Ivo Steffens of NS shared their digital knowledge and travel experiences in front of a room full of technology and business leaders. 

David Jongste, like Reijnen, Management Consultant and as Managing Director responsible for Anderson MacGyver’s activities in the Benelux, zoomed in on four perspectives related to mastering digital journeys: ‘define your digital ambitions, defeat digital demons, master your mindset’ and finally ‘taste the transformation’. 

Jongste: “As IT Manager at HagaZiekenhuis, at an early stage in my career, I discovered the distinctive power of technology and data in optimizing processes. At the same time, I learned how difficult implementation can be within a complex dynamic of stakeholders. Much later, at Anderson MacGyver, I became intrigued by value for the business in a context that at the time was still largely cost-driven.” 

Of the four perspectives, defining your digital ambitions revolves around clarity concerning your goals as an organization and how digital and data can contribute to making a difference. David Jongste cites as an example the ambition of a large logistics service provider, which wanted to focus primarily on the recipient of packages instead of the sender. 

“This change of focus was intended to maintain and strengthen its leading position as the preferred delivery company. In addition, they wanted to make the processes more efficient, effective, and synergistic. This required various digital capabilities. A digital twin of each individual package proved crucial to achieving that.” 

Defeating demons  
Defeating the digital demons mainly involves cleaning up yesterday’s mess, both in terms of legacy IT, organizational flaws, and cultural issues. “Maintaining the old can take a lot of energy and it takes the focus away from things that are actually much more important in the context of the future.”  

Mastering the mindset involves a broad-based perspective on business, technology, and data. “Take as an example a large fresh produce auction, which has a huge amount of data on customers, products, prices, and margins. The technology to leverage that was available, but you don’t get very far without a common language and mindset for business and IT.”  

Ultimately, it’s about tasting the transformation itself, entering the digital arena, and making it all truly possible. “A manufacturing company in automotive was dealing with a slow rollout of a central CRM system. The ambition was clear, but the execution required firm leadership. After all, the road to success is always full of bumps. It’s all about a coalition of well-wishers executing the plan and seeing it through.”  

Digital leaders, according to the Managing Director Benelux, need to understand how they can influence the four aspects of the digital journey mentioned above. “Then it’s about keeping the focus on your goals, making bold choices when necessary and creating a common perspective.” To ultimately get the taste of success.  

Mobile train journey  
In addition to the operation and exploitation of traditional assets, NS is working hard on far-reaching digitalization. The ambition is to become the best digital mobility company in the Netherlands. Ivo Steffens has been with the railroads since 2018 and joined in March 2020 as Director of Commerce and Lead ComIT – an organization of 900 people and 100 teams in which commerce and IT are united.  

“Looking at my hotel school education and career at Transavia and Air France-KLM, the overlap of commerce, technology, and the customer is the common thread,” Steffens said. “Moreover, I am of the generation that always sees technology as progress. And who now sees that it is not just carefree.”  

When he made the 2018 switch from the aviation sector, he was triggered by the NS ambition: to transport all people easily, comfortably, and affordably to home, work, friends, family, and so on – and then to do what you care about. “In doing so, NS has an essential role in keeping the Netherlands accessible for everyone. While we certainly have challenges, we are doing quite well in several aspects.”  

But the market share has to increase and that requires more than being the best train company. Ivo Steffens: “We have to be more attractive to people who want flexible forms of transportation, or who now mainly use the car. The solution is to offer more options for door-to-door transportation: bicycle, e-bike, or shared car.” 

That is not easy in an industry that has taken shape in the Netherlands since the first train in 1839, and within an organization with an 85-year tradition of rail transportation with traditionally a strong focus on owning physical assets. “In contrast, a digital mobility company has to rely primarily on partnerships. Moreover, You are entering a new market, with other players.”  

A digital mobility company must rely also on partnerships

Ivo Steffens – Director of Commerce and Lead ComIT at Nederlandse Spoorwegen

“To be truly digital, we need to deliver the best possible experience to the traveler,” continued the Director of Commerce. “Benchmarks are, in addition to other major international rail companies, digital-enabled mobility providers such as Coolblue, Google Maps and Uber. So, we operate in a totally different dynamic.”  

NS has a lot of legacy IT, but it does have a roadmap to completely overhaul the landscape in the next five years. Ivo Steffens: “We are going for a total overhaul. At the same time, we have to accelerate, because other providers are not waiting.”  

Lessons learned  
To become a digital mobility provider, NS combines several principles: arrange everything within one app, information and service from door to door, easy planning, booking and payment, and a wide range of other modalities. To this end, the products and services of various partners and providers are being brought together.  

While to this end the IT landscape is being modernized, the digital mobility product is increasingly being marketed. The proposition is offered to business customers as a service to be integrated within their existing processes and policies, including as an alternative to the lease car.  

Ivo Steffens learned three important things during his current digital journey: “First, leadership is needed with a focus on people rather than technology.” In addition, it’s all about the combatants in the arena – the people who do it and not others who judge them. Finally, it’s about making choices and keeping things simple. “The important thing is to keep the most important the most important.” 

Everyone knows that business activities and the technology landscape are inextricably linked. The rapidly changing economic and social dynamics can lead to a less well-suited technology landscape. To make the technology landscape ‘fit for future’, modern, future-proof and aligned with the business strategy, a holistic vision of the future with a corresponding roadmap is required.

What is this theme paper about?

You want to start making your technology landscape future-proof, in other words ‘fit-for-future’. But one thing is certain, an old ERP or other IT systems are ideally not the starting point in the journey to a future-proof landscape. So, where do you start? And how does this work in real-life? Read this theme paper. We hope to inspire you.

Download the theme paper

What can you expect in this theme paper?

  • Useful tools, models and approaches
  • Three customer experiences from last years
  • Tips from our experts on what to look out for
Download themepaper

Interested in Anderson MacGyver’s solutions for digital services?

Contact our specialists! We are happy to assist you.

By Edwin Wieringa

Thanks to agile, the once fervently hoped-for (but until recently only marginally realized) alignment of business and IT within many organizations finally seems to be taking real shape. The challenge now is securing technology competencies internally as a sparring partner for the many process-driven roles and functions.  

Nowadays, you stumble across scrum masters, agile coaches, release engineers and product owners supervising development projects and other processes everywhere. In itself, a good thing. But because hard technology competencies are often hired, major decisions are made primarily by people with limited technical competencies and background. Companies thus spill over in process knowledge and process focus, while their distinctive value is mostly created by external people. There is an imbalance between internal and external – process-oriented versus technology-oriented.

Staying in control

People who deal with the ‘hire and fire’ are at a relatively large distance from the product side, making it difficult as an organization to stay in charge of the technology roadmap. After all, you need to have a good understanding of what needs to happen in terms of content in order to make fruitful use of all the makeable and available capabilities. For example, embracing large platforms for cloud-native development.  

The product owner needs a sparring partner on the tech side: an internal force with a technical background. Together, they need to align IT with what is happening and needed within a specific domain. This can range from a generic solution for operational stability or efficiency, to very specific business solutions.  

Linking pin

The multimodal analysis and organizational form are the linking pin here. After all, understanding the context and nature of the business activities leads to an appropriate organizational design and IT that supports that in all respects. On the business side, you can then make a deliberate move to matters of value: customer-centric, agile services, continuity assurance, innovation-oriented, or otherwise.  

That requires attention at the right level within the organization. Decision makers within management and the board must realize a growth path for in-house people with a tech background. This makes tech more strongly represented in the organization; not just executive, but also at the coordinating and strategic level.  

Are you wondering about how to better balance process and technology focus within your organization? In the upcoming white paper ‘Organizing Data & Technology’ there is plenty of attention to the various phases of development and organizational archetypes, from which you as a board or management can make the move forward. 

Eneco is transforming from primarily supplying gas, heat, and electricity to becoming a reliable energy partner in the sustainability transition. In addition to in-depth knowledge of individual customers, this requires a broader product offering that is delivered in various combinations by an expanding ecosystem of partners. In the commercial domain, technology, under the leadership of Alex Palma, acts as a driver of change. 

Assisted by Anderson MacGyver, a Digital Lighthouse program was set up three years ago, with the broad rollout of Microsoft Dynamics for customer relationship management being the most notable. Due in part to that CRM solution, the tech domain has pushed the transformation to the business. In conversation with involved consultant David Jongste, Alex Palma, Head of Customer within the Business Technology Organization (BTO), talks about the crucial moments, insights, and decisions. 


For Palma, the journey begins with his decision to swap his responsibility for the commercial IT domain at PostNL for a similar role at Eneco. “The energy market is one of the most socially relevant sectors. Full of constant changes and in the news every day. In 2019, in addition to the movement toward sustainability, the acquisition of Eneco by a large, capital-heavy party was already in play. Hence, there was a market and there were resources to make something beautiful out of it.” 

Former CIO Mario Suykerbuyk and Alex Palma knew each other from their previous work environment, where they were involved in a similar transformation. David Jongste stepped in early in 2019 on behalf of Anderson MacGyver, which is also PostNL’s in-house consultancy. “We helped analyze what needed to change in terms of technology and operations to make the transition in the market,” the consultant said. 

This bundled experience contributed to the success of Eneco, now acquired by Mitsubishi. Palma: “We have taken on a large social responsibility: helping the Netherlands and perhaps Europe shift towards sustainable energy use. That means optimally supporting business customers and consumers across a variety of channels.” 

We want to help customers across a variety of channels become sustainable, in the best way possible.

Alex Palma – Head of Business Technology Organization Customer at Eneco

Energy coach 

As such, Eneco is transforming from an energy supplier to an energy coach who knows what drives consumers and businesses within their specific context. “The energy transition requires substantial investments, so the advice and customer experience must be extremely good. This then leads to mutual trust and loyalty, which ultimately forms the basis of every relationship.” 

David Jongste: “Then, you are no longer competing on price, but a partnership is formed.” Alex Palma agrees: “The real value is in supporting the commoditizing process. This shift puts high demands on the supporting technology. The Digital Lighthouse has helped guide this within the commercial domain.” 

Energy providers have traditionally operated based on ‘connection’, which often boiled down to a postal code and house number. “Were you aware that at that time the customer was barely in the picture in a uniform way?” Palma says, “At PostNL, we went through a similar change, although the relationship with an energy provider is much more direct. The intended change is and was from product-focused to customer-focused.” 

A single truth 

There are several interrelated elements in that transition, all of which you need to get right. Jongste: “Getting to know the customer, adjusting the product portfolio, intelligent pricing and a longer-term customer relationship. With these steps, what was the main route and order?” 

According to the Head of Customer, it is crucial to have a clear view of every consumer and business user. “Knowing and understanding what customers want is the starting point of a real relationship. We wanted to have all the information about the individual customer – often spread across multiple internal systems and with our delivery partners – available as a single truth. Having the data in order forms the basis.” 

Palma is aware that many companies integrate existing channels and supporting legacy IT through an intermediary layer, but he believes that this does not solve the underlying problems. “You have only created a shell that masks the underlying problems. That’s why we looked for a more fundamental solution.” 

Solid core system 

“The truth about the customer is the heart of our service,” he continues. “This is where the data from all commercial processes comes together: from marketing, sales, field services, and so on. Our foundation is one CRM system, a solid core where everything comes together.” 

David Jongste: “The program goes beyond IT – it involves different ways of organizing and working within commercial teams, adjacent domains, and with partners. Traditionally, multiple parties interact with the customer. In order for their knowledge and insight to filter down to Eneco, they all need to work from the same truth, the aforementioned commercial core where all customer information is uniformly stored and available.” 

“Moreover, it requires other capabilities to interact with the customer,” adds the BTO Head of Customer. “In the past, we as Eneco mainly engaged in partner management towards parties that approached customers with commercial offerings. Now it’s about developing a customer engagement ecosystem, where we always know how to approach and support customers based on the data.” 


With that, Jongste says, begins the development of customer knowledge and commercial capabilities and processes. “You just mentioned the decoupling of commerce and delivery. Can you tell why that is important?”  

Alex Palma: “In the past, commercial agreements were linked to the product to be delivered – such as a possible discount or the length of the contract. Now there is a split between what we offer commercially and what each partner ultimately delivers to which customer. That provides us with the flexibility to offer products from different parties in a variety of bundles.”  

David Jongste: “That decoupling is an essential step towards greater product diversity – think about offering heat pumps, solar boilers, charging stations, and so on – and hence the role as an energy partner. Not only do you now have a much better customer view, but you can also move forward on the supply side based on a more dynamic ecosystem of partners.”  

Alex Palma: “It is an example of how, through IT and flexibilization of the operating model, you can make the transition from a product-focused to a customer-focused company. Modern technology, in this case in the form of a central CRM system, is thereby operating as a change agent.” 


With delivery, it’s first and foremost about reliably fulfilling the role of an energy coach, proposing the best options for sustainability in the right order. “That means orchestrating both the products and the partners who have to start delivering this in the right way and in harmony.” 

Furthermore, Palma and his team are aiming for a clear, personalized invoice that contains the exact information customers are looking for. “Not too brief, but not too detailed either. All of this should lead to trust and loyalty. From a commercial point of view, these things are absolutely fundamental.” 

“The most successful companies are largely marketed by their customers. Subsequently, you have to be very careful about that, because if you are not transparent in terms of commerce, delivery and billing, you will be downgraded from green to greedy, so to speak.” 


The changing interaction with third parties ensures that transformation is not limited to commerce. A holistic view at products and the customer relationship requires alignment between different departments and domains.  

“When something is delivered ‘behind the front door’ on behalf of Eneco, often those are the moments of truth for your customers – the moments when you really matter,” Jongste states. “The parties in the supplier ecosystem, for example, determine an important part of the brand experience. How do you deal with that?”  

According to Palma, this touches on the question of who owns the customer. “We argue that operational departments and third parties are welcome to use their own data, but that all data on the total context of the customer should be up to date and available. All interaction with the customer, in part on the basis of all that data, is therefore ours.”

Lessons learned 

“It’s not all finished yet, but what have been the most important lessons learned so far?” Palma: “The ‘drive for change’ is always based on a promising perspective and/or a burning house. In the energy market, although there was a need for sustainability, the mix of solutions differed from case to case. The promising perspective was still surrounded by questions on the product side. We may have underestimated that.” 

Since the terrible war in Ukraine and the sharp rise in energy prices in part because of it, there is now a need for change. “Sometimes you have to leverage circumstances to speed things up and give direction – both internally, in terms of technology and for your customers. A better technological and operational base helps us to be prepared for a changing need in the market.” 

Technology helps to be prepared for changing demands in the market.

Alex Palma – Head of Business Technology Organization Customer at Eneco


In summary, three things stand out to David Jongste: based on Eneco’s strategic direction, it was determined what needed to change in the areas of IT and business, in order to then address it step by step over several years. “In addition, the complexity required a good balance between the long term and the delusion of the day. This is where leadership and perseverance come into play.” 

“A matter of keeping one’s back straight while seeking connection in multiple areas,” concludes the Head of Customer within Eneco’s BTO organization. “That is not always easy. There is no cookbook available that tells you exactly how to do it all, either. For me, the most important thing is that we ultimately do what is best for our customers and therefore also for the company.” 

Interested in Anderson MacGyver’s solutions for digital services?

Contact our specialists! We are happy to assist you.

In most of today’s digital agendas you’ll find something like Digital Commerce, KYC (know your customer) and Next Best Action. You want to sell better, faster and more. To do so you need to understand who your customers are. You don’t only want to know what was previously bought, but also that the buyer, for example, is a father of two kids, that likes to play sports and has a college degree. That shouldn’t be a problem in this year and age, right?

The reality is often a different story. Even a simple question like: “how many customers do we even have?” results in different answers depending on the department or person you ask. Why? because they have different sources. One looks in the CRM and the other in the E-commerce portal. And so we have a conversation about the information that is scattered over different applications which than leads to: duplicate customers in one system and customers missing in the other, one system says he lives in Rotterdam and the other says he lives in Amsterdam, different email addresses, et cetera. Bottom line: Missed commercial opportunities, disinvestment in marketing campaigns and decreasing customer satisfaction, no clear and up-to-date customer information, and so on. 

Resulting in a frustrated outburst like: “Just give me the (single) truth! How hard can it be?”. The answer is: You can’t handle the truth! 

Image: single truth illustrated

In jargon we often call this topic Master Data Management (MDM). MDM is the process that creates a uniform set of data on customers, products, suppliers and other business entities from different IT systems. To get MDM in place you should focus on: 

  • Leadership 
    Via governance you set the policies and guidelines and you create an organization where roles and responsibilities are clear. But more important, you manage behavior by explaining the Way of Work and encouraging the right behaviors. 
  • Supporting Technology 
    There are tons of smart technology solutions that claim to support you in getting that desired single truth. They can help with automating business rules, discover duplicates and more.  

I strongly believe that good leadership from the start can prevent the need of complicated and expensive technology. To emphasize that even more: a technology driven solution will never work unless you have your leadership in place. Therefore, we design and implement organizations that ensure a solid data foundation. A few examples of themes that should be addressed are: 

  • Roles and responsibilities 
    This is where it starts. Who is responsible, who is setting direction? What are the agreements between data producers and users on the quality that is needed? 
  • Business rules and policies 
    What are the agreements, what is allowed, who is allowed to view what, what are the regulations (privacy, norm certifications)? 
  • Business Glossary and Data Dictionary 
    Know your data and define it unambiguously and understand its context. 
  • Data Quality Dimensions 
    How is good data quality defined? And how will this be measured?  

These themes might feel overwhelming, so the challenge is to understand the bigger picture, but to start making steps at the same time. Often, we start with a taskforce that helps creating a compelling story, gets the story on the right agenda’s, prioritizes potential solutions and creates momentum with celebrating quick wins with sustainability in mind. 

In this blog we focused on customer data, but you will also need a single true view on other themes. Just think of: products, suppliers, employees and assets. So, the main take away: you can’t handle the single truth, not on your own. But you can organize it.  

Do you recognize these data challenges? I’m interested in your experiences! Feel free to get in touch to talk about data and more.

To live up to its ambition of ‘preferred delivery organization’, PostNL is working to better connect with customers. Through its website, e-commerce channels and app, it aims to offer consumers and business users an unified, personalized experience. Together with Anderson MacGyver, the organizational and technological choices that go along with that were examined.  

PostNL is considered a textbook example of an organization that has been making the right technology choices for over 10 years, following the broad embrace of cloud computing in 2012. Even with regard to new activities around digital commerce, they are building on the standardization of yesteryear, combined with the more recent choice of a service layer architecture.  

As a trusted in-house consultant, Anderson MacGyver was part of the foundation of PostNL’s technology direction, but also thought about digital developments within the commercial domain. The involved consultants David Jongste and Joost Doesburg look back on the choices made in 2021 with client Jeroen Manten, Head of Customer IT at PostNL. Together, they also look ahead to the future.  

Manten: “Somewhere around 2020, the term Digital Experience Platform (DXP) was introduced by Gartner. Exactly at that time, we were looking within the commercial domain for an umbrella under which to hang several capabilities. About a year and a half ago, as a trusted partner, we asked Anderson MacGyver how we could apply such a DXP based on our history and within our specific context and culture.”  


Several initiatives were ongoing within PostNL in the area of commercial IT. This partly fell under the newly established Digital Business Unit, which focused on all visible customer interaction via api’s, web and app. Beneath that lay the Customer IT domain, where there had also been a lot going on over the years.  

“In 2013, we had as many as 750 applications running,” Manten continued. “Many of these we have largely phased out, harmonized, rationalized or integrated within the Salesforce platform over the course of four to six years. Once we realized that base, we were faced with the challenge of contributing to the new strategic agenda: the digital transformation of PostNL.”  

We want to help customers across a variety of channels become sustainable, in the best way possible.

Alex Palma – Head of Business Technology Organization Customer at Eneco

David Jongste: “The strength is that with DXP you had a framework with which you could develop different capabilities, and all the technology choices that go with them. Hence, you could determine in a structured way what you could get out of the market and in which areas you would want or need to develop specific things.”  

Manten agrees: “Until recently, we used the principle of ‘best of suite’ within commercial IT. Everything that could be done within Salesforce we did within this platform. That was strongly related to the phase we were in as PostNL, but did not always bring us what we were looking for. The question in 2021 was: what do we really need to support the intended digitalization?”  


To take those steps, the harmonization and rationalization of the commercial processes on Salesforce was a great first move, according to Jongste. “The ‘1 PostNL’-strategy of several years ago is the foundation for further digitization of customer and market interaction. That is a strong foundation for the current ambition to be the delivery provider of choice for both sender and recipient.”  

Joost Doesburg adds: “It’s about making the entire customer journey digital across all channels, wherever that adds value. In doing so, you thought carefully about the level at which you set up the services, whether agnostic to the platform underneath or not. That was the idea, but to what extent did that work out?”   

“Digitalization applies to our own channels,” Manten said. “But also to those of our customers and any third parties. We want to be wherever the customer is. For that, we need a modular, composable architecture. Within our domain, we use a three-layer api architecture for this purpose: core api’s, process api’s and experience (customer experience) api’s.”  

The question was what PostNL Customer IT could source from parties in the market for this purpose and what should be developed in-house. “Everything from the ambition to be ‘the preferred delivery provider for senders and recipients’. So the question or need from the business is always leading.”  


In addition to the ‘1 PostNL’-platformstrategy around the operational core, the MACH concept within the DXP vision played a conditional role in the shift of focus toward the customer. MACH concerns the combination of microservices, api-first, cloud-native and “headless” front-end user experiences across multiple channels, decoupled from back-end systems.  

“To what extent do you realize the intended acceleration with this?” asks David Jongste. Manten: “We are busy working on capabilities such as personalization. Integration is also at play. We can now move toward ‘best of breed,’ where integration is done based on api’s. Thanks to the MACH foundation, we can now integrate a Customer Data Platform (CDP) as part of the DXP into the value chain within two months.”  

“You can then enrich the core customer data in Salesforce with data unlocked from other sources,” Joost Doesburg states. “With that, you can build profiles and segments of customers so that you can provide consumers and business users with specific information via the CDP. Has this already been realized, or does it still need to be implemented?”  

Jeroen Manten: “We are starting that now. Within the consumer domain, we already have a similar concept with the CCB (In Dutch: Centraal Consumentenbeeld). A recent marketing campaign consisting of a video that featured eight personalized textual elements generated by the CCB. In addition, data from the platform is used for business ruling and machine learning around customer interaction.”  


“Apart from the right choices regarding organization and IT, the consulting process with Anderson MacGyver ensures that we deploy scarce resources on the right capabilities,” Manten says. “We can visualize the focus for the next 1,5 to 2 years, including the target architecture. Besides Salesforce, we deploy point solutions, which fit PostNL’s position, ambition and development phase.”   

Technology helps to be prepared for changing demands in the market.

Alex Palma – Head of Business Technology Organization Customer at Eneco

A consideration in the decision was, for example, that existing DXP functionality within Saleforce places a much heavier demand on technical skills than a specific application that fits within the best-of-breed vision, where it is mainly about the right business rules and questions from the marketers – who are increasingly developing as data analysts. “This allows you as IT to slowly step back. That’s quite a mind shift.”   

“It’s nice to see PostNL supporting business initiatives with the right IT, rather than the other way around,” Doesburg said. David Jongste adds: “When you know what points you want to excel in as an organization, that justifies specialized IT solutions for those specific points. Some capabilities around DXP are critical to PostNL’s competitive ability in the marketplace, and that’s why an addition to the standard Salesforce platform is legitimized.”  


This selection process, according to Joost Doesburg, resembles multimodal analysis, a core concept of Anderson MacGyver that connects business activities with the right technology and organizational choices based on specific characteristics. “Returning briefly to the development phase: where are you now and what will be the next step?”  

Jeroen Manten: “By Dutch standards, we are possibly ahead of any other organization of our size. Internationally and looking at what is possible, we are still at the beginning. The main question is how we will implement this with the business. The DXP vision has now been included in the strategic plan of both CDO and CIO.”   

The next year is dominated by the implementation of CDP capability. The next deepening lies in the area of search and context – both at the concept level and in terms of concrete implementations. “Moreover, we are reshaping the customer IT organization slightly: three people in addition to me, all in a product owner role, are each responsible for a logical cluster of three of the total of nine DXP capabilities within PostNL.”  


David Jongste: “This trajectory shows how important it is to have a strategic vision as an organization. Starting with rationalization and harmonization as part of ‘1 PostNL’, MACH as a pivot to building digital capabilities in the customer domain.” Joost Doesburg: “The platform strategy deployed at the time did not foresee DXP, but it does ensure that you can now develop in this direction.”  

“Digital commerce is like an iceberg,” concludes Head of Customer IT Jeroen Manten. “For the customer, at most 20 percent is visible – via web, the app, or a plug-in. That is the domain of our Digital Business Unit. But that 80 percent in the traditional processes underwater has to be in order to be able to realize visible things for the customer.”  

Interested in Anderson MacGyver’s solutions for digital services?

Contact our specialists! We are happy to assist you.

Anderson MacGyver

The core purpose of Anderson MacGyver is to harness the unrealized business value for our clients by leveraging the powerful potential of technology & data. We provide strategic advice and guidance to board members and senior management to shape and drive their digital journey.