Monday, June 6, 2016

Innovation and the state of the Dutch economy

When I moved back to The Netherlands from Turkey in 2014, I thought that the crisis would be over and life would be better here than in Istanbul. Now, almost two years later, I found out that I'm wrong. I'm seeing too many people merely surviving, burdened by mortgages, divorces, unemployment and other problems. Personally, I think it's very sad that such a rich country has so many people buying second-hand things or even having to rely on charity to get a meal.

So, what is this country doing to get out of the crisis? Cutting expenses and nothing else. However, this is where things are getting problematic in the long run. Last week, I spent two days at the amazing AMIS conference about Oracle technology. Heard many inspiring stories about the latest developments in IT and realized that none of them are happening in The Netherlands. It's not because we don't have the technological skills: with an incredibly high amount of Oracle ACEs, we're rather the object of envy in the rest of the Oracle world.

In my opinion, the main problem is in the "bookkeeper" mindset. When I was working abroad, companies were using IT to enhance and renovate their businesses. After all, the economic struggle has also become a technical struggle and you need to be on top of things in order to survive.
So I've worked on a project for a Turkish company to enter the digital marketplace and on another project in Australia where IT was moved to the Cloud in order to free up resources, so they can deliver business goals, instead of doing maintenance. In the meantime, in The Netherlands I've been working on a project with the main purpose of taking work out of people's hands, so they can be fired. Also, when I look at disruptive businesses, they are hardly ever from my home country: we're stagnating.

When you look at technical innovation, it's obvious that it has to be driven by business innovation. If you're not going to do anything different with your company, why take the risk of jumping into some new and unproven technology? Why not just optimize what you have and see if you can cut some more expenses?

I have the opinion that innovation is the only way to get out of a crisis. You need to take some risks to have a competitive edge and with the fast developments that are going on, you can't risk waiting too long. You need to have a vision, invest in it and make modern technology the cornerstone of your future business. There are amazing possibilities out there in the Cloud with Internet of Things, Big Data, Analytics etc... and if you don't seize those opportunities, it will be game over sooner rather than later. It's time to start building on the future and the future begins today.

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