As we announced earlier this month, there’s been a new addition to the Intelligent Systems family. Our office in Brussels, Belgium, has opened its doors in order to serve new and existing customers in the Benelux region. In order to better introduce the goals and ambitions of our Belgian team, we turned to Rember Verbuyst who will lead our local subsidiary’s efforts in his role of General Manager of Intelligent Systems Benelux.
What are your plans for the Benelux market?
We believe the Benelux market for business applications has significant untapped potential and our presence will benefit customers that are looking for high-quality products and services from a proven and reliable vendor. Our plan is to build a fully operational subsidiary, to win new customers and support existing ones with local resources.
What challenges do you expect to encounter in the first few years?
A lot of companies optimize their business processes to gain competitive advantages. I believe this is very smart, as long as the implementation partner is familiar with the specific industry and highly qualified in the solution you need for your business. On the other hand, the pressure on the partner channel by different vendors like Microsoft, Salesforce, or others will generate a less-trained pool of inexperienced BizApps partners who want their piece of the cake. We fear there will be unfinished projects or other complications that make even our project-recovery team feel uncomfortable. In order to avoid these scenarios and at the same time expand our reach, we support indirect sales. If a new Dynamics 365 partner or an existing system integrator needs our help, we are ready to discuss collaboration or partnerships.
How has Intelligent Systems Benelux prepared for the changes in the market brought by the Covid-19 pandemic?
I am not sure whether Covid-19 has changed the market. What I do realize is that this crisis has accelerated motions, plans and ambitions of smart companies in terms of e-commerce, employee and customer engagement or digital transformation as such. As a loyal and respected Microsoft partner, we have been investing over the years and we have built expertise in most of these domains, including specialized know-how for a selection of key industries. Microsoft CRM, ERP and, recently, the Microsoft PowerPlatform are at our fingertips and the only thing we needed to do was to increase our workforce capacity to deal with this new reality
From an internal and organizational point of view, we have been shaping our management team up with great people from diverse backgrounds. A strong leadership team is needed because our customers and partners are looking at us as a strong and reliable partner, even when times are tough. The expansion towards Western Europe is a part of our growth strategy, but it allows us in the first place to be very close to our local customers. Like I just said, demand hasn’t changed, but the way customers purchase and the underlying reasons for decisions have. To understand this new process, we need to stay even closer to our customers and open up all communication lines.
Which needs of Benelux companies do you consider unmet and need to be catered to?
Since plain ERP has become a commodity in the mid and upper market segment, the need for industry-tailored functionalities came naturally. Intelligent Systems brings added value by providing industry-specific add-ons for retail and distribution, automotive, transportation, pharma, and food manufacturing. Along with the actual deliverables, we provide extensive industry expertise derived from a rich international customer portfolio.
What is your advice to customers looking for a business apps partner?
Business management systems are the operational heart of a company. If you want somebody to look at your heart or monitor your heartbeat, you better go to a specialist. A business apps partner that is competent in the Dynamics platform your business is running on, and who really cares about your objectives and expectations is a trustworthy partner. So I would say that you need to validate both aspects during the selection phase.
In your opinion, what makes the partnership between client and vendor successful?
Despite the fact that we sell products, deliver solutions and deploy platforms, in the end, it’s people-business where communication is key. We take a significant amount of time to get to know the customer and vice versa by questionnaires, on-board calls, intake sessions or interviews, because it is crucial for the success of the project that all parties understand and trust each other. This trust allows us to not only ask internal questions but also to challenge existing scenarios or choices made. Customers expect us to guide them according to our experiences and expertise and to lead them by showing the bigger picture, evaluating their strategy and making us part of their success. But the most important thing to look for in a partner is whether they live their values or not.
About Rember Verbuyst
Rember Verbuyst is a solution-driven business leader whose professional path started at Compaq Belgium. After the company merged with Hewlett Packard, he was one of the pioneers who handled the SMB business endeavors. His next opportunity came at Microsoft where he drove the SMB channel business for several years. After finishing law school, he worked on developing the Software Asset Management and Audit department into a commercial and customer serving motion. In his last years at Microsoft, Mr. Verbuyst held various commercial and sales positions. On a personal level, Rember lives in Belgium, close to Brussels, and his wife and children help him to find balance and harmony during their time together.