A few weeks ago I needed to visit a Dutch hospital. I had an appointment at 14.30, nothing serious, just a check. Arriving in the waiting room at 14.20 I had to pick a number. At that moment I turned from André Helderman into number 452. There were 3 desks. On a screen I saw number 452 had to go to desk 1 to register, so intuitively I walked to the left. Then I looked up and saw this:

Stupid me, obviously the desks are numbered from an employee perspective, not from a client perspective. I corrected myself and walked to the desk on the right side. A pretty strange customer journey, already during the first seconds.

Of course the waiting room is not the core business for a hospital, getting proper medical treatment is much more important, but it does make clear that this hospital organization is thinking inside out instead of outside in.

Process modelling

In the meantime it was 14.30 so I used some time to think about business process modelling. You have to do something, right?

If I would model the client process of getting a hospital check, it would start with something like a reference from a family doctor (that is some kind of a portal towards the hospital, we have in Holland), the making of a first appointment to see the specialist, a second appointment for example to have some blood taken and a third appointment to discuss the results. Something like that.

In a classical process model this would look like a pretty (c)lean and straightforward process.

Process modelling based on process mining

14.40: I was thinking: what if I would use process mining to discover how the current process actually goes? Process mining is based on event logs. Every registered action, including timestamp, is used to make the actual process visible. Doing that it would become visible what the waiting time is between registration and entering the doctor’s office. Averages, minimum, maximum, per day, per hour of the day etc etc. I would be able to make it all visible in patterns and draw smart conclusion. Also shortcuts in the process (so called elephant paths) would be discovered and the amount of cases for which the process is aborted, for example by patients leaving before it is their turn and on which moment in the process this happens. It would learn us much more than the clean theoretical process models.

For more info on process mining:

Process mining based on Internet of Things

In the meantime it was 14.55 and people around me were getting pretty annoyed. I wasn’t; I didn’t mind a bit more time to think further: what if we would use Internet of Things concepts to get even more data in the event logs? For example by having the doors in the hospital censored or even a step further: have the patients connected via a bracelet or a chip. Andreas Sjöström did an interesting experiment, boarding a flight with an NFC implant:

Walking patterns through the building would be visible for analysis including the few wrong steps people take when they approach desk 3 instead of 1. I am pretty sure the numbering of the desks would be corrected pretty fast. Process mining is a very useful approach to improve client processes.

15.10; still waiting. The moral of this story: undesired waiting time can lead to useful insights.

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Andre Helderman AUTHOR:
André Helderman has studied both Business Information Technology and Organizational Sociology which makes clear that he is interested in the impact of technology on human behaviour.

Posted in: Business Intelligence, Data structure, Developers, Human Behaviour, Human Interaction Testing, Innovation, Internet of Things, IT strategy, User Experience, User Interface      
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As I write this, our political leaders are in Paris trying to close a deal on limiting global warming. Without technology we would not have global warming. Our use of energy, our mobility, the way we produce food and how we transport it, it’s all the result of the former industrial revolutions. This brought us a lot of welfare, but clearly not all positive.

We are currently at the beginning of the next revolution, the third or the fourth, depending on how you count. Digitalization, Internet of Things, the industrial internet, share economy; it is clear that solutions for global warming highly depend on the current technology revolution. Our political leaders may agree on the goals but it will be up to technology leaders to make it happen.

Should that make us feel hopeful? On one hand I would say yes. I see a lot of positivity in innovation. People, businesses, start ups with good intentions and high ambitions.

Daan Roosegaarde for example, a Dutch innovation artist’s Smog Free Tower is just one of his fascinating projects. It is a 7 meter high tower which sucks polluted air and breaths clean air, creating a clean oasis in the city. From the smog he creates jewelry. Brilliant idea, not meant to clean the whole world but to make people look differently at pollution. A bit naïve,but positive and hopeful.

On a smaller scale, as part of an IoT Battle, I am involved in developing a smart toilet, based on Internet of Things. Sensors in the toilet give food advice and health warnings to the user, who can share this information with doctors. Data can also be shared with health organizations to detect and manage infections. Good intentions, high ambitions which give me the feeling my work has real value.

A2t the same time I see the upcoming role of drones as a weapon, which terrifies me. It takes away humanity out of a conflict with potential catastrophic consequences.

Truly the dark side of technology.





Although I am not religious, sometimes, on very rare moments, I even think the Amish in Pennsylvania may be right. Refusing to use any modern technology may not be such a bad idea after all.


Andre Helderman AUTHOR:
André Helderman has studied both Business Information Technology and Organizational Sociology which makes clear that he is interested in the impact of technology on human behaviour.

Posted in: Big data, Business Intelligence, Digital, Digital strategy, Infrastructure, Innovation, Internet of Things, project management, Quality Assurance, Research      
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10thnov-1My former blog was about the importance of Rocket projects to support the digital transformation of an organization. Rocket projects help to make customers and employees see and feel that an organization is heading for a new identity. But what if that identity is not clear? What if an organization doesn’t have a clear view on their role in the ever changing digital era?

I have been speaking at a lot at different organizations lately about this and it occurs to me that many organizations do not have a clear vision or lack awareness.

Defining the “New Us”is indeed difficult since it is about the future. And it is often outside the comfort zone. Imagine you are a bank, how would you deal with crowdfunding, bitcoin and blockchain? Or as a telecom organization, how to deal with Internet of Things? Or as a logistics organization, how to deal with 3D-printing? If you are a retailer, how to deal with the share economy? If you are a university, how to deal with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)?

Getting inspired by the new world is easy, making choices is not.

As a business analyst,  I see the following three instruments as very helpful in identifying who you want to be as an organization in the digital era:

10thnov-2Business Model Canvas
A business Model Canvas is not new but still an extremely helpful instrument for determining future value propositions and business models. Since new technology tends to have impact on organizational boundaries and business models, the value of the Business Model Canvas is bigger than ever.

Value Chains and Transactions
When determining the “New Us”, it is not enough to just look at your own organization. It is the complete value chain which is open for disruption. Internet of Things for example, literally connects organizations which were not connected before. Making this visible in terms of value chains and transactions helps to understand the changing value chains and determine the position of your organization within it.

Business Story Telling

Business Model Canvas and Value Chains are about the hard facts but Business Story Telling makes the10thnov-3“New Us” human. And that is what it’s all about in the end. Business stories can be used to find out the “New Us”. What is the strength of our organization? What is it that we are proud of? What is it that unites us?

Furthermore, it can be used to communicate the “New Us” within the organization. Good business stories tend to have much more impact on people than a carefully formulated vision statement.  I am convinced that the strength of these instruments is in using them in combination. Together, they can help to determine who you want to be in the digital era and make sure people are aware.


Andre Helderman AUTHOR:
André Helderman has studied both Business Information Technology and Organizational Sociology which makes clear that he is interested in the impact of technology on human behaviour.

Posted in: 3D printing, architecture, Business Intelligence, Digital strategy, Internet of Things, SogetiLabs, User Experience      
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In my latest blog about Internet of Things I wrote about the smart umbrella where I concluded that a simple LED-light on an umbrella has a disruptive impact on the manufacturer. In this blog, I will take a closer look at that impact and how to get and keep energy in such a transformation.


When IoT enters a certain branch, one of the effects is that the value chain in that branch is changing. New products and services become within reach and new players enter the market. This forces existing players to rethink their own role, their positions towards existing and new partners , their added value: in short, they have to reinvent themselves. This is the case for an umbrella manufacturer but also for:

  • A logistic organization because of 3D-printing, self driving cars, IoT, smart city etc.
  • A financial organization because of crowdfunding, bitcoin, blockchain, IoT etc.
  • A governmental organization because of smart city concepts, internationalization etc.
  • A health care organization because of 3D-printing, domotica, IoT etc.
  • Etcetera

Note that the most important word in the list above is “etcetera”.  There is hardly a limitation.

There are many rapidly changing  technological developments with impact on the essence of organizations. Flexibility is the key here, so it is logical that many organizations are working on becoming more agile. I also see many organizations working on huge programs to be “ready for the future”. Mostly long term programs with an internal focus. Increasing flexibility and reducing internal complexity are usually part of this. These programs  tend to cost a lot of time, money and energy and they are not very great, but we just have to go through this.

raket2For employees, these programs can be frustrating. It takes too long, the original goals slowly disappear out of sight, requirements are lost underway and people outside the program don’t understand what is going on. “When we finish this program, we should be ready for the future, but the future is changing faster than we do.”  These programs take energy but they do not give energy back.

“Rocket projects” do give energy. These are relatively small but with a very visible result, focused on the outside of the organization. They launch the transformation an organization wants to go through. Customers and employees will see and feel that the organization is heading for a new identity. At the same time, Rocket projects are very helpful in determining priorities and scope for your huge readiness program. A win-win.

I am pretty sure your organization is working hard to be ready for the future, but where is your awesome Rocket project?



Andre Helderman AUTHOR:
André Helderman has studied both Business Information Technology and Organizational Sociology which makes clear that he is interested in the impact of technology on human behaviour.

Posted in: 3D printing, component testing, Digital, Digital strategy, High Tech, Innovation, Internet of Things, IT strategy, Open Innovation, project management, Quality Assurance, Research, Software Development, User Experience      
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When I sit on my couch looking at my smartphone, the screen of the phone is my window to the digital world. No matter how much you do with a smartphone nowadays, it is still a very small, flat, one-dimensional gateway. Bypassing this small gateway, is in my opinion, one of the characteristics of Internet of Things. We are heading for a seamless integration between the physical and the digital world.

An example is the smart umbrella. You may recognize the situation that you go out in the morning and doubt if you should pick your umbrella. But what if your umbrella is able to read your agenda, interpret the weather forecast and tell you, by a small blinking LED-light, whether or not you will need the umbrella today. As a user, you don’t have to do anything to enter the digital world; it is just there and manifests itself in the physical world by helping you to make the right decision at the right place, and at the right time.

This smart umbrella is easy to get used to, from a user perspective, but is pretty disruptive for the umbrella manufacturer. His current business model is based on designing, manufacturing and selling; that’s it. Currently his main concern is to have a design which keeps the user dry in wind and rain. But to enter the world of the smart umbrella this same manufacturer will need to start thinking of data communication, service-contracts, weather-predictions, GPS-software, battery-lifetime, and software updates. He also needs to decide on which part of the product he will produce himself and for which parts he will need to cooperate with specialists, like telecom companies,  weather-apps and battery-companies.

The company has to reinvent itself, based on a vision on their position in the digital world and a  roadmap for the execution of this transformation. This is not voluntary. In the short term, we as consumers, of course, don’t want such an old fashioned stupid umbrella anymore which doesn’t even inform you about the weather forecast. And we will start complaining, without doubt, supported by pictures on social media, in case the advice we get from the smart umbrella is not right. That’s how it goes.

Quite a disruptive challenge for this organization, all because of a simple small led-light, which the user will just take for granted in a minute.


Andre Helderman AUTHOR:
André Helderman has studied both Business Information Technology and Organizational Sociology which makes clear that he is interested in the impact of technology on human behaviour.

Posted in: Data structure, Digital, Digital strategy, GPS, Internet of Things, Smart, Social media, Social media analytics, Software Development, User Experience, User Interface      
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