For this latest interview in the 25 years smart profile series, there are no less than 2 people who share their experiences at smart profile. These are Sander de Bont and Timo Hoogendorp, both working in the smart profile labs team, the innovation department of smart profile. 

At the start of the interview we asked the gentlemen how they ended up at Smart Profile. The answer they gave us:”By car”
This definitely indicates the tone for the interview.

Sander: In 2010 AD I joined Smart Profile (then Computer Profile). Michiel, Harry and Margje worked at my old employer. When Harry and Michiel started Computer Profile at the time, I heard that at some point there was a need for an account manager. We talked and so it happened. 

Timo: I’ve been working at Smart Profile since 2015. Before that, I had my own little business that was involved in community-based marketing and building. That is now a very well-known concept, but not yet at the time. After a while I quit and started working at the supermarket to focus on my education, which actually did not work out very well, and after a while I started talking to Jasper Fransen via Julian. And so I accidentally rolled into Smart Profile. 

The journey from role to role

Timo: Julian sneaked me into Smart profile as a call agent, I did data generation for a while and then Michiel said to Ilona “Timo talks your ears off! I think he might be fit to do telemarketing as well.”. Then I started calling for the more technical propositions. Actually, the key-selling point was that I understood what that proposition was, and that I could have a good conversation with those technical c-levels. So I was put forward as Project Coordinator. From that project management I came to IT project management. And from an IT project manager I started to take on the role of Walter together with Michiel. Then without Michiel, after which it was given the name lead link and then I finally passed it on to James.

Sander: And then came LABS. 

Timo: I did that in parallel for a while: ICT operations and Labs. And Sander in the same way. And the intention was that we did that 50/50, but in reality that meant trying to put all the time we had left into Labs. 

Sander: Like I said, I was hired as an account manager, which embraces a lot of customer contact and having a lot of conversations. There I became more independent, and the projects became more complex / larger and so I also encountered needs and questions that were outside the standard portfolio of computer Profile. I often tried to get it back into our portfolio, but that didn’t always work out. At one point, it came down to the fact that I was constantly walking new paths as an account manager. And in doing so, I saw more and more of a value gap, a difference with the needs of the market and what we could do. We were still leaning on our old crown jewels and then you’re just caught up from all sides. I said a lot of times then “Guys we have to develop, move on.” 

And at some point I started “Future land” with Pierre ,at that time it was called products and services, and that had to be shaped. But in the end I did for a long time what Timo also says, the combination of sales & the portfolio for the future. 

At a certain point you see logical combinations between the need, how we position ourselves and the developments of technology. That’s how LABS came together in its current form. 

Labs activities

Timo: If we completely summarize it, there are 2 main projects in which fleet insights is the one we talk about most often on Yammer, but if we look at ambition, one of the largest projects (not in terms of capacity but in terms of interest) within the sales organization is the marketbase. And especially making products available and making products available is one of the ambitions that, as far as I’m concerned, is now officially at the top. And there are also a lot of other smaller projects that we are working on, including alerts, older data from SMP and email statistics.

Sander: Everything we do is realise your potential. And we see that in some places we are on par and can do something but also in some areas we really still have steps to make. 

And then when you go to see what do we need to be able to make those steps, you see that technically we have to develop a lot and invest in marketbase. That’s more under the hood than above it, so for the market, marketbase already exists to a large extent. 

And we’ve made objectives, like wanting to approach new markets, but with new markets you need new intelligence and to link that to a marketbase you first have to have that technique and that foundation right, so that’s the ambition: To be able to offer new markets and more market share, without an intermediary or online business.

At the moment there is a lot of fragmentation, but ultimately we want to merge all the dashboards into one product. We’re taking a lot of steps to see what works and what doesn’t. The intention is that we have a personal relationship based on that desired user experience and that we translate it into a platform and that every consumer will find his/her own personal experience in it that matches his / her needs.

Smart profile in 25 years

Sander: I’m glad you’re not asking what I’ll look like in 25 years! Phew. 25 years is a long time. But in 5 or 10 years, I hope it remains a combination. I see the value of SmartProfile: what it was and what it is now. That’s based on a lot of knowledge about our ecosystem that we live in. The market, the advice, the potential that that will still be there. I hopewe’re still having conversations and relationships and that it’s human to the pointthat’sgoing to go hand in hand with technology and technology. I hope that we are increasingly able to build a portfolio. Last but not least, I hope that our ecosystem will be expanded, that as a label / brand SmartProfile we can also add value to companies that we have in our database. That they can also consume our market knowledge / intelligence 

Timo: I agree with Sander in many matters, what I would emphasize myself, is that I expect that in 5-10 years the number of customers of SmartProfile will be a lot larger. I share with Sander the expectation/hope that not only data but also activation will be part of SmartProfile in 5 years, I expect that it will be more digital service, also out of necessity, and I expect as an addendum that the piece of Computer- and Fleetprofile in our services and portfolio seems even further ago and that SmartProfile is also much more of a data supplier and less of a computer or fleet/ICT/mobility data supplier. That we have those roots further in our past and that that is reflected in our marketing, in the way we organize our data and our customer portfolio, that is what I expect in the 5 years. 

Mooiste herinnering

Sander: I have to dig deep in my memories for that Timo, you can go first. 

Timo: My best memory would be the anniversary party that we have done, when Smart Profile Belgium turned 25 years old, in Breda at De Faam with food trucks. We had a nice party with all colleagues including partners, and that way you get to know your colleagues differently. It adds an extra human dimension to your colleagues. I remember talking with Willy’s husband for w long while, it was all really nicely organized.

Sander: I’m in the same atmosphere, the best memories are that party but also other parties. Events in which we not only danced but also did fun games, and that we were in a dark den in Antwerp that you think oh gosh,if I slip out of here no one will ever find me again! I have no idea how they find those places but those are nice memories, but also the daily eating at the lunch table. That really sets the organization apart, that we know each other. And I’m looking for it to be fun and cozy, not too serious.

And since we are talking about the future: I think that if you ask me this again in a year’s time that the 25 years of existence of SmartProfile NL will be the best memory. 

The best future memory. 

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