Stephan, VP Digital Strategy, joined Mobiquity eight and a half years ago. He talks about the importance of product innovation strategy on the cross section of business and digital. And how together with the talented Mobiquity teams and use of our digital traction model we can continue to deliver meaningful results underpinned with a human centric approach.
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Stephan Hartgers: I am forty six years old, living in The Hague and have two beautiful daughters. I have a passion for kite-surfing and when I started, I spent many weekends making the trip to one of only two kite surfing schools in the Netherlands at the time to learn the sport. It’s a hobby I can enjoy all over the world, having kite surfed in over twenty countries so far and counting. I also enjoy exploring new countries. Having travelled a lot for work throughout the years, all over the world, from China to the US and Canada, it created ample opportunities for experiencing new places and cultures.
I have always been passionate about computers and technology. From the age of seven I was building my own code on my Commodore 64. Computers were a shared interest between my father and I. I studied Econometrics with a specialisation in Operation Research & Computer Science in Maastricht, as I found it to be the perfect combination of my three main interests; computers, economics and business. I enjoyed this a lot as it enabled me to identify business problems and tackle them using the three perspectives of business knowledge, mathematics and computer science. From a mathematical point of view, coming up with a viable solution to that challenge, and from a computer science angle, looking at how to code (in C++) and calculate the answer to reach a result. And as l go through my career to date, all three aspects continue to come back into focus in my daily role.
My mother always said to me to ‘stay among the people’, otherwise I would lose myself behind the computer with hours and hours of coding, which would have been very much fun but not so healthy for me. I took her advice to heart. Starting out my working career I was interested in becoming an IT consultant as I could see this type of a role combined all my interests in one. I worked in some of the large consulting organisations which really enabled me to get proper training in the field and build up my professional level to match my ambition. It helped create the foundation of my work approach, which in doing so has opened up further opportunities for me to focus on impact and quality and also invest my time into helping others develop and grow their skills. Once my daughters arrived, I was conscious about wanting to give my all as a father and to be there for them, so work took a back seat. I used this time to try my hand at a few different types of roles. It wasn’t long before I realised that I am a consultant in nature and that is what I truly love.
I have been working at Mobiquity now for eight and half years and I can honestly say that I enjoy it everyday. I am VP of Digital Strategy, responsible for a variety of different departments and competencies from strategy consultants and data scientists to product managers and business analysts, to marketing and business development. I am still involved in some client relationships but have started to progress from strategy consultant into more of a managerial role. It still incorporates all my interests, starting with a business challenge, coming up with the right solution and creating meaningful results all underpinned with a human centric approach. I am always looking at what I can do to invest back into the company and enable it to thrive. How I can have a lasting impact. In a way I have come full circle, as my career started out focusing on making myself better, then onto helping others to grow, and now also helping the company itself grow.
Why Mobiquity? In my early career I used to choose to join companies based on a factual list of criteria I had in my mind. Throughout the years, I have changed my approach, as all that really matters is that you are surrounded by good people who you enjoy working with, who motivate and inspire you to continue to push boundaries and bring out the best in one another. Mobiquity has a remarkable talent of attracting not only very nice, fun people, but also highly experienced, knowledgeable and humble people. That kind of mix is rare and creates a culture that is unique. And that's why I love this company. I can spend my time with people I like, doing things I enjoy that add value for our clients.
As I work with an array of people, within different departments, with varying nationalities and personalities, I have to be able to take all of this into perspective. In recent years I have become quite mindful of what I do, as I have continued down my own personal growth path. How has this changed the way I work? As I have always been very analytical in mindset I have concentrated on improving my people skills and also transforming myself in that sense. Migrating away from that once set list of hard criteria and decision making from just a rational point of view, to also taking into account the mind and enabling myself to work more with my energy. Respecting who each individual is as a person, and leveraging abilities to create the best outcomes using the sense and energy of others to have a positive result.
At Mobiquity we have a lot of talented people, all experts in their own field. As we are still a young company with a startup feel, we also recognised throughout the different competences there was no one shared vocabulary which in turn opened potential to create noise and unclarity and cause for inefficiency around debating what approach to take. We looked at how we could align our way of working across all competences, to enable teams to get towards their goal faster and have more time to focus on quality. In doing so we created the DTM, Digital Traction Model, which is our common language and approach, incorporating guidelines to enable teams to work together. It was quite a complex challenge to solve, making sure everyone recognises themselves within this methodology. The finished result: All competencies come together and find each other, aligning cross competency collaboration. This not only strengthens Mobiquity’s abilities, but also strengthens the added value we provide for our customers. Reinforcing Mobiquiy’s unique capabilities of providing full end to end service offerings that create holistic brand experiences, delivering real value and meaning for the customer and driving engagement with and within the clients digital products.
On the cross section of business and digital is where strategy becomes important and ultimately product innovation strategy. There is a lot still to do and to improve in the industry with regards to applying technology in terms of methods and approaches available to create more value and better outcomes. Everyone wants digital transformation. But not everyone understands or is aware of all the options available when it comes to utilising and implementing digital. And when you don’t fully know the benefits or advantages of a new approach, many tend to stick to what they already know from their past experiences, which is not always the most effective or efficient way anymore, making it difficult to evolve. You cannot continue to use the same one approach or method, and expect to get a different result.
That is why digital and product innovation is so important. By taking the time and effort to really investigate what is possible, and conducting proper research around what it is that the end consumer is really looking for, what it is that can enhance the consumer experience to truly deliver something distinctive. And at Mobiquity that is exactly what we focus on, helping our clients achieve! We have all the ingredients and combining our offerings and utilising our DTM approach, uniquely positions us to continue to deliver and enable great innovation for our clients. Take Standard Bank for example. One of the oldest, largest and number one bank of South Africa. They came to us looking for ways to bring new digital solutions and value to their customers. We worked together with them on running innovation, and inspiring product innovation using the latest methodologies around. Focusing on design thinking, product management practices and agile ways of working which is all captured in the DTM. That created an exciting work environment for people which sparks imagination and resulted in an outcome that improved their customers' experience.
My hope for the industry is that others can also follow our lead in educating clients on the value of product management and product innovation methodologies. That is how we can make a real difference.
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