You may have noticed we’ve been doing a little expansion at HfS recently… And a big part of this was building out our European presence and adding more industries to our research coverage.
One industry we’ve always been passionate about is energy, and how that sector is dealing with huge regulatory impact post the Paris Climate Agreement – where both energy providers need to rip up their operating models to survive, and enterprise energy consumers can take advantage of new sources of renewable energy to gain a competitive edge.
So who better than to hire an Amsterdam-based energy expert with a penchant for technology and research? So without further ado, let’s introduce you to our new Managing Director for Research, Derk Erbé…
Welcome, Derk! Can you share a little about your background and why you have chosen research as your career path?
Thanks for the warm welcome. I’m very excited about joining HfS. I feel research, and the role of the industry analyst brings everything I experienced in my career and found to be critical together. I have been in the trenches of technology implementations, business transformations and operating model changes. I’ve managed the backlash of failed implementations on the business, designed business and IT functions. And last but not least, I founded and ran a business, Kea Company. Helping vendors with Analyst Relations, I’ve been on the other side of the table with analysts for years.
As a sociologist, I have an interest in the change management side of transformations. And in the human condition, something we can’t escape from.
As an analyst, I’m able create a helicopter view perspective and dive deep into trends, hypes and powerful forces of change. I love poking around at the underlying dynamics of the things we see happening around us.
Why did you choose to join HfS… and why now?
It feels like the right time and the right place. Analysts are here to find new truths and help buyers and providers of technology and services make sense of the world around them—help them to make the best possible buying decisions. In my years at Kea Company, I have built a deep understanding of the analyst world and the way analyst services are consumed and valued. Not every analyst firm is as forward looking, but in my opinion, this is a critical component of value and purpose.
I have gotten to know HfS as a company that always pushes the agenda and is not afraid to go against the grain. This is what I admired and a big reason for me to join.
Technology and internet services touch so many lives in a positive way. But let’s not forget the darker sides. A deep understanding of both is required to navigate this Technology Revolution, or rather Internet Revolution—the Industrial Revolution was a de facto Technology Revolution as well, of course. In my opinion analysts should play a significant role.
What are the topics and big issues that you will focus on in your analyst role?
My focus is on three big topics. The first is digital. Digital is all around us. A big part of the current disruptions in industries are fuelled by digital technologies. But as every vendor and service provider has a digital transformation story, change is hard, especially if there is a lot to change. So big enterprises have a mountain to climb regarding the adaptation to the digital opportunities and threats. New business models will be born, will envelop or replace old business models, and will challenge the position of incumbents.
I’m fascinated by the strategies, business models and business transformations technologies that cloud, mobile, social and big data analytics have enabled. And it is even more stunning how fast people adapt to this new reality, the new opportunities. Although I have a ton of grey hair, I’m not very old, but I grew up with an old-school telephone in the house, one with a wire and a horn. I see people I never expected to adopt new technology quickly—my parents for example—using Skype, emailing, texting like they’ve been doing it for ages. And on the other side of the spectrum, my 4-year-old son is so savvy and intuitive with technology he probably will never understand the world of just 15 years ago. I see an analogy to “born in the cloud” enterprises and older firms that have their roots in a pre-Internet era.
The second focus is on Energy, Utilities and Natural Resources. This is an industry on the brink of a revolution. We need to change our production and consumption of energy dramatically. Energy companies and their service providers are at the center of this process. And they need help. HfS is expanding the coverage of these industries to be a source of dependable knowledge and insight to energy companies and the service providers.
My third focus will be on custom research projects. The syndicated research agenda of a firm says a lot about its ability to provide guidance to clients about current and future business challenges. For instance, the moment HfS called the As-a-Service Economy shift I knew this was going to be an incredibly powerful framework for enterprises and service providers to guide their journey for the coming decade.
The custom research is a way to push the agenda even more. Clients want to find out how they can find competitive advantage, make the next big thing. Custom research projects are an excellent way to explore the new frontiers. It is a method for HfS and our clients to keep sharpening the axe. I’m excited to contribute to this. And get stuff done.
And what disruptive trends and developments are capturing your attention today—especially with the impact of Digital technology on industries such as energy?
I see a role for all eight ideals of the As-a-Service Economy in the energy transition journey. Many service buyers are still looking around and figuring out what the hell is going on. While the Solution Ideals hold the real promise, the Change Management Ideals can help energy providers and service providers cope in the shorter term. So the ideals that are closest to home in the coming period are Design Thinking, Writing off legacy, Brokers of Capability and Collaborative Engagement.
Digital technologies will be useful in finding answers for disrupting challenges from non-digital forces. Energy providers have to deal with a lot. The plunge in oil prices means oil producers are operating at a loss. The looming departure from fossil fuels will mean finding investments in non-renewable energy becomes next to impossible. I’m carefully looking at whether energy providers and service providers can find each other in collaborative engagements, co-investing in As-a-Service-based platforms that enable new operating models and business models, creating new value.
And what are you working on first for our clients, Derk? Any sneak previews into what we can expect?
I started of with a Point of View about the Paris climate agreement and its impact on energy providers, operating models getting ripped to shreds. This piece is setting the scene for our research in the Energy, Utilities and Natural Resources vertical, such as a new Blueprint Report on Energy Operations. Next month, we will write a Point of View on the top industry processes that are impacted by Digital transformation and the move to As-a-Service.
Welcome to HfS, Derk. We’re delighted you have chosen HfS as your analytical home and can’t wait to see you first Soundbites hit the presses =)