My new short video for CFO meets CIO

Hello,

Today I wish to share with you my new video for the ‘CFO meets CIO’ initiative. I shared with you a few weeks ago already some more elements on this initiative.

Have a look to the video here, and enjoy. It only takes 1 minute and 18 seconds to view.

The video is introducing the initiative and focusing on the various activities, such as personalised support for CFO’s and CIO’s, news, blogs and events.

The video is in full HD, and was produced by me with support of makewebvideo.com, a really great site for making videos.

You can find more blogposts from me on the ‘CFO Meets CIO’ initiative here and here.

Please do not forget to have a look on our CFO meets CIO website, which is regularly updated with news, blogs and events.

Kind regards, and take care,

Bas for ‘CFO meets CIO’

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Designing my business

Hello,

As you may have noticed, I started developing a new business, called ‘CFO meets CIO’. This new business is focused on helping CFO’s and CIO’s to realise their goals by connecting them together and to give them pro-active and dedicated support.

To make this happen, I had to design and develop a various number of elements such as creating my website, creating my first e-book, making stunning e-mails, and getting noticed by my target customers (CFO’s and CIO’s).

This post might be helpful for everyone who wants to start a business or activity.

A summary

  • I use WIX as main provider to design and create my website CFO Meets CIO,
  • I used Apple’s iBooks Author application to create my e-book,
  • I use MailChimp as main solution for creating e-mail campaigns and forms, for subscribing to my mailing list,
  • I created profiles on FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn to share posts and messages and create further tracking and visibility,
  • I still use my ‘old’ WordPress blogging solution to share my blogs (I published over 70 blogs since begin 2013),
  • And I followed specific training to become even more dynamic.

This article shows some main insights how this was done. If you wish to have more information on these tools, please contact me on bas@cfomeetscio.com so I can give further advice.

Wix

Wix is in the basis a powerful technology to create a professional and functional web presence. Wix is an established player since many years and has been developed from a basic website creator to a full-fledged professional CMS (Content Management System).

You can use Wix in 2 flavours: one way is to create a standard template based website with quite good functionalities. The other option, which I used, is to create the website from ‘scratch’ to be able to add all kinds of functionalities for both mobile and web formats.

As with other modern website creation platforms, you can add news, blogs, events and e-mails, which I all incorporated into my new website. Since end of 2017, Wix has also introduced programming code you can add to websites for better control.

What I found good with Wix:

  • Many options available with professional look and feel
  • Easy to use for mobile and browser options
  • Easy to link to my created domain

What could be improved by Wix:

  • Slow: As the website is stored at Wix, I think the website could respond faster.
  • Publish button is too ‘dangerous’ to the save button.
  • Still some errors on mobile after saving the website.

I pay less than 100 USD a year for Wix (next to the costs to manage my new domain). Not a lot of money, but I spent some days to build it …

Apple’s iBooks Author

The Apple iBooks Author solution is in the basis a Mac and iOS based tool. It is targeted to be used to create modern e-book’s, but it also saves to PDF. I found the learning curve  quite steep, as I wanted to know all functions.

To write an e-book, this is a much better tool than Word combined with PowerPoint, and it is free (always good for a Dutch guy). There are professional tools (from Adobe for example) which are probably better, but more expensive.

What I found good with Apple’s iBooks Author:

  • Many options available with professional look and feel
  • Automatic updates of texts and menus
  • Easy to make PDF

What could be improved by Apple:

  • PDF generation does not allow clicking on the menu management
  • Templates are not freely changeable. If you choose for portrait, you can not change back …
  • Limited functionalities overall compared to other tools.

Apple’s iBooks Author is free (included with a Mac). New announcements on the tool were made last week by Apple, so we may expect new features soon.

MailChimp

MailChimp is a large marketing automation platform. You can build lists and events with automatic e-mails. Those of you who downloaded my free e-book have seen how this works: after it is made, I have no work at all, and e-mail addresses are coming in.

I use here also the free version with limited functionalities of course. I mainly used until now their signup form functionalities.

What I found good with MailChimp:

  • Easy setup
  • Straightforward usage
  • And it works well !

What I found not so good on MailChimp:

  • Not all templates could be modified as much as I wished.
  • The buttons can not be placed yet centrally in the forms.

Other tools and training

To promote further my new business activities as part of designing my communication plan for my e-book, I use the following solutions:

  • LinkedIn: next to my personal LinkedIn profile, I created a so-called showcase for CFO meets CIO (see link here).
  • FaceBook: I added a company page for CFO meets CIO (see link here).
  • Twitter: I created a specific profile for CFO Meets CIO (see link here).
  • WordPress : I also update regularly my personal blog ‘Doing nothing? Not my style‘ (see link here).

I also follow regular training on communication, video’s, websites, networking made by the Business Boost Event team: Greet Bunnens and Karina Urbina. A fantastic support by these 2 ladies for all kind of topics when developing and designing your business. They organise regular events with entrepreneurs, especially in Belgium.

Since using the above tools, I got a much better feeling for designing and developing my new (or any) business.  If you need more information on this, or on the CFO meets CIO initiative, just contact me at bas@cfomeetscio.com.

Take care,

Bas

Brussels, April 2, 2018

Our free e-book ‘Managing ICT budgets is fun’ is launched today.

I just released my free e-book called ‘Managing ICT budgets is fun’. A coffee guide explaining that managing ICT budgets can be an enjoyable exercise. Get this free e-book at: http://eepurl.com/doGGo9. The guide is made possible by ‘CFO meets CIO‘.

Fun

The ICT budget is often seen as a non-enjoyable activity, partly because ICT is perceived as a boring cost centre instead of a sexy profit centre. I am convinced that the ICT budget can also be made to be fun. This is because of the incredible human efforts undertaken by many ICT to deliver and run solutions which are used by so many users.

Also fun, because the ICT budget is deeply linked to the business achieving its strategic objectives, allowing for enthusiastic presentations, and helping to sell the ICT budget to decision makers. It also strongly supports ICT as a driver for change, innovation and increasing efficiency benefits to the company as well as improving employee’s roles and tasks.

The coffee theme of this e-book is chosen to allow you to drink and think while reading this e-book, and it avoids drinking too much alcohol.

Structure

A first explanation of various cost notions will be shown in the chapter ‘Explanation’. It contains a description of several types of cost classification. You will use this when making and managing the budget as a means to explain your ICT budget in a way that key stakeholders will better understand. Hence you will gain a higher degree of buy-in, rather than if you sell it as a pure cost burden to the organisation.

The following part (‘Run’) of this e-book takes a focus on all aspects of running ICT solutions. How to manage people, assets or other resources? In house or externally, and what are the cost aspects?

Next to that, the Chapter ‘Change’ takes a closer look at modifying the ICT systems to adapt to changing business needs, legal requirements or ICT environments. Change is by definition challenging and should not be feared, challenging the status quo and finding a better way to do something is interesting and fun!

As any other department, there is also a generic part called ‘Overhead’. The managers, architecture, security and several other non direct attributable aspects, will be touched upon in this chapter.

The following Chapter (‘Sell the budget’) takes a specific look at how to sell these elements to your colleagues, your CEO and your Board. The relationship between Business and ICT will be treated here.

Finally, in the last Chapter (‘Have fun’) you will find the summary and some others perspectives related to the fun of managing ICT budgets.

Further information

This e-book is definitely not intended to give you a full description of all elements on ICT budgets. However, after reading this e-book, I trust you will be able to see the fun side of managing ICT budgets.

The e-book is written by Bas Eshuis, and brought to you by the ‘CFO meets CIO’ initiative. I wish to thank my pre-readers for their support, and especially Peter Blakeston for his valuable and strongly appreciated inputs.

The e-book was produced with Apple’s iBooks Author software. The email and download screens were developed with MailChimp. Our website CFO meets CIO is produced with Wix. A further blog will be written on my experiences with these tools.

Get this free e-book now at: http://eepurl.com/doGGo9.

March 21, 2018.

Take care,

Bas

How to improve efficiency in Finance by further automation.

You, as CFO, have increasing tasks to fulfil: next to your historic Finance activities, you are increasingly requested to be aligned with new regulations (financial or not), as well to participate in the analysis of ever growing amounts of data. All this requests an intelligent and efficient approach with a focus to increase efficiency by organising your activities and teams, but more especially by finding further ways to automate where possible.
This post highlights some specific possibilities to improve quality and efficiency by implementing further automation. The list of items below is clearly not an exhaustive list, but gives an indication of possible subjects. Your teams in your company are probably already working, with the CIO and ICT teams, on many of the below topics. However it is important to stay informed on new trends, as they have impacts on your efficiency and quality.

Accounting: as you are well aware, every financial department has to account for all asset and financial transactions.

  • Depending on the type of company, this can vary from a simple to a very complex way of accounting. Most companies these days have introduced various ways of automating these tasks, however there are still many topics which can be improved (non-exhaustive).

  • Invoice received: still many companies do add their invoices to pay manual into their systems. This causes delays and possible errors, with impacts on your company. Various solutions (from simple to complex) exist to solve this problem: mainly by a combination of scanning and automatic recognition (OCR).

  • Monthly closings: still many ‘manual’ entries are to be done just after closing. Avoid this! It will help you in the reporting (see below)

  • Book the costs in the month they are due: with using correct analytics you can better follow the costs. In some companies they book the costs in the month they receive the invoice.
Controlling: Your controlling team has to be efficient:
  • Often the controlling tem is very busy with making reports instead of doing the controlling itself. The last years however the focus shifted to understand the business in a better way, understand and act upon compliance and governance, and to execute effective controls. Automation can help with:

  • A common agreed data environment with a so-called BI (Business Intelligence) Datawarehouse. In many companies these days the Controlling teams are the guardians of the BI data, tools and reports.
Reporting: your teams are sometimes ‘always’ busy to create (and modify) reporting. This can be financial or tax reporting within the company, but off-course also to ‘mother’ companies, tax authorities or for investors.
  • Make sure that there is only one owner of data for a given topic.
  • Do you still use Excel? Microsoft Excel is still one of the most used tools on the market. Your teams struggle to align data with commercial, risk or other teams and spent many days to get it look nice. Solutions exists in many ways, with the first being: use a common set of data. I know, it is easy said, but this is the basis.
  • Use a Business Intelligence tool, and related reporting packages. And pack it nicely with tools like Qlik or Tableau.
Treasury and collections: this part of Finance contains not only cash management, payments, interest and FX risk transactions, but also all other aspects such as interest rates, fees, etc. There a are a huge number of topics and solutions, so let’s take a few:
  • Always use tools to upload data from your bank accounts. Since more than 20 years, incredible good cash management solution exists for big and small companies. PSD-2 impacts and solutions will improve this market even further in 2018.
  • Use advanced payment systems with your bank. Also have a look to other solutions, like Adyen or Ripple (via blockchain). Things are moving fast here.
  • FX management: the traditional world of Treasury systems is moving also. Various new integrated solutions, often directly linked with your accounting and controlling, are available on the market.
  • Collections and accounts receivables: involve a technology supplier to increase efficiency.
Procurement: An important activity, although not always found in Finance. What might be a topic which can be automated?
  • Contract management: solution exist these days to automate your contracts, and to link up to Finance.
  • Manage your accounts payables by managing purchase orders
Other important challenges:
  • Regulations: align your controlling team with the IT teams concerning PSD-2 (many new opportunities) and GDPR (ensure also that your ‘financial’ data do comply with regulations). The IT team can help in the creation and understanding of data within the company.
  • Big data: more and more date is available; either internally in various databases, but especially these days outside your company. Data can be used to inform your board better and enable faster forecasting. Open the discussion with your CIO to understand this better, and how it can be of use for yourselves and your team.
Next articles will go deeper into each of these topics, and also into how upcoming ICT trends will have strong impacts on you as CFO and your team.
This post was brought to you by “CFO meets CIO”, an initiative to help CFO’s and CIO’s to realise their common goals. We advise you to stay in contact (signup for more news at www.cfomeetscio.com) to have further explanations.
Take care,
Bas Eshuis
March 4, 2018

CFO meets CIO

Hello,

I started a new initiative called CFO meets CIO.

The idea is to help CFO’s and CIO’s to realise common goals. CIOs and CFOs are often found at opposite ends in management. One has the task to manage financial activities and risks, while the other has to cope with all technological changes and an identified, often limited, technological budget.

​The current digital revolution has major impacts on both roles, being it on the contents of the roles, the budgets and the people.

​I have 4 clear offers to help and advise CFO’s and CIO’s :

  1. sharing daily News on financial and information technology, allowing you to stay up-to-date.
  2. sharing regular Articles on common topics, allowing for more in-depth focus.
  3. organising Events, such as workshops and webinars with focus on ‘hot’ topics, allowing you to make steps forward.
  4. supporting and finding Personalised Solutions for specific actions: such as :
    • supplying a personal support program increasing the common goals, or
    • delivering you, as a gift, free advice, or
    • delivering project and interim management if you need this for a specific topic.

My focus is to supply CFO’s and CIO’s, and their related Finance and IT teams, with the best advise possible to realise their goals.

The website is being constructed and will come live soon. I shared a first teaser today with a short GIF image:

CFO meets CIO 2018026 - coffee - link www.gif

A better quality image can be found at YouTube.

The future website can be found here: http://www.cfomeetscio.com. If you are interested in more info, please subscribe to the mailing list on the website.

Thanks for your interest.

Take care,

Bas

February 26, 2018

Digital in 2018 for dummies (and others).

This blogpost describes a list of Digital subjects which I think will become important and visible in 2018. It contains an overview of various IT and Digital related trends I see coming to the surface in 2018 and which will for sure change our life in the coming years.

The below list is based on elements I read, discovered and discussed over the last weeks and months with impacts on private people and businesses.  It is no way a full list – I highlight some of the most obvious.

Becoming “Digital” is not an option anymore: it is there and it is mandatory. To get there, and to involve everyone, that’s a different story. That is why I do not use the words ‘Digital Transformation’, ‘Digital Revolution’ etcetera, as they indicate to me the path to get to be more Digital. Not always easy, I know, but it is not a target in itself.

So what are the elements which may come to your eyes these days, and where will you see this? It has become a longer list than I originally thought, but Ok, let’s start. By the way, I refer often to Wikipedia explanations and hyperlinks are included for further  reading.

Generic topics

  • Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information. You will use it to add or delete real things and replace them by digital representations of your choice.
    • The list of possible applications is long: think of architecture, design, medical, military or tourism. Several hundreds of “apps” are available already.
    • Latest examples are Ikea (showing your furniture) and some very exciting games.
    • Many exciting things to come in 2018/2019.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI), is intelligence displayed by machines, in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans (or animals). Intelligence can be described here as a device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of success at some goals.
    • In fact, machines are learning based on their actions and tasks, so often we also speak in this matter on ‘Machine Learning’.
    • AI is not new, but it becomes more and more visible: the latest examples could be seen in January 2018 at the yearly Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with more and more autonomous driving cars.
    • Further elements can be expected in HealthCare, Finance or in your House (intelligent fridges for example).
  • Machine learning is a field of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. This is closely linked to AI.
    • The latest example I saw this month is that Google is opening its Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine. Companies and Business can use Google Power to create models for analysing and predicting all sorts of data, such as predicting weather, credit scores, or other. 
    • IBM has created an interesting document on ‘Machine Learning for dummies‘. You must register to download the e-book.
  • A blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically. It is in fact a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.
    • Blockchains are secure by design and are examples of distributed computing systems with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralised consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.
    • One of the most known is off course the Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency (a cryptocurrency  is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions).
    • Another well know cryptocurrency is Ether, with its own blockchain called Ethereum. Ethereum was proposed in late 2013, and the Ethereum ‘language’ is now being included in several other software solutions.
    • Various courses to train you into BitCoin or Ethereum exist. I followed a first introduction lately given by Sebastien Arbogast from ChainSkills, and distributed online via their Udemy Online Courses.
    • The blockchain is first of all a technical solution to deliver to everyone the same view, ensuring that nothing could be modified, without a 3rd part acting as a trusted partner. As an example: today we all use notaries to ensure that he property of our house is well noted, and that someone can not sell his/her house twice. With blockchain, everyone can check the technical validity of such transactions.
    • Blockchain technology is much more complicated than that, so please have a look to other websites for details, such as smart contracts. Banks, consulting firms, insurances and governments are all looking into this technology.  Real world higher visibility, outside bitcoin, can be expected in 2018 and 2019.
  • The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.
    • This is not new. IoT is a buzzword for several years now, and it still has to kick off on a large scale for public usage.
    • For 2018, the most interesting thing I see happening is the rollout of SigFox. This is a French company founded in 2009 that builds wireless networks to connect low-energy objects such as electricity meters, smartwatches, and washing machines, which need to be continuously on and emitting small amounts of data. They partnered with many local an international companies (in Belgium with Engie for example) and covered already a large part of Europe and rolling out the US and other continents. I am confident that this will become a big thing in 2018 or 2019.

Companies and Business topics

  • DevOps (“development” and “operations”) is a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops).
    • The main characteristic of the DevOps movement is to strongly advocate automation and monitoring at all steps of software construction, from integration, testing, releasing to deployment and infrastructure management.
    • DevOps aims at shorter development cycles, increased deployment frequency, more dependable releases, in close alignment with business objectives. Cooperation “Business-IT” is key. This is particularly important in the current world with regularly updated “Apps”.
    • IBM has created an interesting document “DevOps for dummies“. You must register to download the e-book.
  • Continuous delivery (CD) is an increasing visible software engineering approach in which teams produce software in short cycles, ensuring that the software can be reliably released at any time.
    • This is often related to a structured DevOps organisation, but DevOps is much broader.
    • Continuous delivery is different than continuous deployment. Continuous deployment means that every change is automatically deployed to production. Continuous delivery means that the team ensures every change can be deployed to production but may choose not to do it, usually due to business reasons.
    • Specific tools (such as IBM) are on the market to support this operational mode.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).
    • GDPR is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. The starting date for GDPR is May 25, 2018.
    • From this date onward, every institution must be able to confirm to any person  how and why his personal data is processed. Ane every institution means here any organisation, from a profit-seeking company to a charity or government.
    • Especially in the world of increased digitalisation where data is stored everywhere and becomes the source of all information, this new rule is highly important to implement.
  • The Payment Services Directive (PSD, 2007/64/EC) is an EU Directive, administered by the European Commission (Directorate General Internal Market) to regulate payment services and payment service providers throughout the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA).
    • On October 8, 2015, the European Parliament adopted the European Commission proposal to create safer and more innovative European payments (PSD2). The new rules aim to better protect consumers when they pay online, promote the development and use of innovative online and mobile payments such as through open banking, and make cross-border European payment services safer.
    • PSD2 will break down the banks monopoly on their user’s data. It will allow ‘merchants’, businesses like Amazon, to retrieve your account data from your bank – with your permission. That means when you buy something they can make a payment for you, without having to redirect you to another service (like PayPal or Visa).
    • For consumers who hold more than one bank account, the changes would also allow businesses, known in the legislation as Account Information Service Providers, to display all their account information in one place for them. Attention however to data ownership (see also GDPR).
    • Banks are currently still struggling to find the business model. I expect to see a lot happening from mid 2018 onwards, and impacting many customers in the way that manage their digital bank relationships.

For some of us

  • Smart speakers and personal assistants are coming to us in full speed. Next to the existing Google Home and Amazon Echo products (both companies showed further products at the CES), also Apple will launch its own new product, called Apple HomePod, in a few days (Feb 9 in some countries).
    • At Apple, it starts with Music and the Siri assistant, but this will grow to further integration in your home in the coming future. Important in 2018 !
    • Prices vary from 50 EUR at Amazon to 350 EUR at Apple, depending on size,  functionalities and quality.
  • What3words is a geocoding system for the communication of locations with a resolution of three metres. What3words encodes geographic coordinates into three dictionary words. For example, the torch of the Statue of Liberty is located at “toned.melt.ship”. This differs from most other location encoding systems in that it displays three words rather than long strings of numbers or letters.
    • It is developed by What3Words, and an announcement was made last week that Mercedes Benz is not just integrating this into their cars, but also invest in this company.
    • I am pretty sure we will see much more of this company and solution in 2018.

I trust you better understand that many things are happening around “Digital” and you are slightly more knowledgeable now.

If you are young or old, a simple handcrafting company or a highly industrialised company, or whatever you are or do on planet Earth, you must step into the Digital World now. It is our future.

Take care,

Bas

Sensing the Tech future

Coffee at Starbucks

Hello to all,

As you may know, my interest for new, interesting and useful technology is large. I had the chance to get a further look into the technology (‘tech’) future the last 2 weeks. As part of my work, I was able to meet earlier this month the future of tech companies in France (via Station F) and a get a glimpse of what is actually happening in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

As you may know, start-up companies are hot since many years. Several of this companies made it into the top players of their sector, and every day new players enter into this ‘world’.

Station F in Paris

In France, the initiative was taken by Xavier Niel (one of the richest people in France, and the big boss of Free – a large French telecom provider) to launch the biggest startup campus in the world, called Station F. Station F occupies a building designed by French engineer Eugène Freyssinet, originally  opened in 1929 as a rail depot, located in Paris 13th district.

Station F
Station F in Paris

The building contains 3,000 desk spaces,  private meeting facilities, a 370-seat auditorium and dining facilities open to the public. Big companies, such as MicroSoft and FaceBook, are also having office here to make connections with startup companies easily possible.

Even L’Oreal, a large French cosmetics group, will be present to link real customers with the digital world, such as new apps and Augmented Reality (a hot topic for the coming years), thus opening new opportunities and new markets.

BNP Paribas, a large French Bank, is also strongly present via their partnership with Plug and Play, a global innovation platform supporting startups around the world. BNP Paribas, as a reliable partner to startups, with its own strong innovation culture, will lend its banking expertise to the InsurTechs and FinTech companies.

BNP Paribas at Station F
BNP Paribas at Station F

As part of an innovate project within the BNP Paribas Group, I had the chance to spend this month some time in this vibrating world with many enthusiastic people, from various international startups and BNP Paribas teams, delivering new solutions (such  as artificial intelligence or machine learning) for the Bank’s private and corporate customers. I found it difficult not to get excited when walking around in the building and ‘to sense the future‘.

Around the world, several incubation and innovation centres exist. Almost every country has its own centre, while the largest countries do have several or multiple accelerator centres. In almost every case, these centres bring together small companies, offer them ways to meet other companies, and to get funding for growth.

San Francisco and Silicon Valley

These incubation centres exist even more in Silicon Valley, with examples like Y-Combinator, Matter or 500 startups. But there are much more solutions, often founded by people coming themselves from startups with money gained from their previous companies (existing, or sold for a good price).

Last week, I had the chance to spend a few days in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco to see and sense the latest evolutions in the tech world, on both startups and the big companies. I noted down some of my observations.

San Francisco view from Mission Dolores Park
San Francisco view from Mission Dolores Park

San Francisco: a lot has been written on this town. Of course, everybody knows the many touristic elements of the city, such as the Golden Gate bridge, or the well-known cable cars. But San Francisco is also housing many important big companies in the CRM, Health, Search, Financial and Solutions world, and takes part in many tech evolutions.

When taking a coffee in the morning in one of the many StarBucks around town, in my eyes San Francisco is still very hot (as the coffee).

Coffee at StarBucks
Coffee at StarBucks

As an example, on an early Sunday morning, at a table next to me, in one of these Starbucks, a young person was explaining in detail his technical solution and business plans to a business angel (a private investor). Interesting conversation (even when I tried very much not to listen :-)).

Even with the competition on startups around the world, the city is still highly involved in the traditional business (Banking as an example) and New Businesses (especially the Tech Industries, both hardware and software). Also for example Automattic, the maker of WordPress in which this blog is written in, is located in San Francisco.

San Francisco is also very expensive, especially due to many expats, and due to many people who made fortune in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley

At 1 hour by car or train from San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountainview or Cupertino are well-known cities. Even when Silicon Valley is already ‘old’, opportunities and ideas are still everywhere, from the university campuses (Stanford for example) to the campuses of the big companies like Google, Facebook or Apple.

The mentioned cities were home to many IT companies, such as Hewlett-Packard and Apple for example. Also Borland, the creator of my so much used Delphi program, was located here. Also Stripe, a very promising and high growing payment solution provider, founded by 2 Irish brothers, is located here.

The Stanford University was, and still is, home to many startup companies. The strong links between the university and the companies helps to create a vibrating environment. Many other universities, with examples like Harvard in the US, or Leuven in Belgium, create and maintain these links as this is a ‘win-win’ situation. Money flows in to study more, and the results of the studies flow back to the companies.

Uber car is coming
Uber car is coming

Getting around these days in the Valley is done either by driving with a Tesla, or just using Uber or Lyft. I personally used Uber last week to go the various HQ’s and campuses. I was again impressed by the ease of use of Uber: flexible and without any hassle of payments, so much simpler than renting a car.

Spending some time at Facebook HQ, it was impressive to see the number of young people discussing between them, using all kind of smartphones, tablets and portable PC’s to develop ideas. The number of people walking and driving around was incredible. So much activity.

Facebook HQ Like Sign
Facebook HQ Like Sign

At Google, it feels more Android than ever. However, as there are so many Google campuses around, it is almost impossible to see what is really going on. On the photo you see little bikes, because everyone was (really !) cycling around between the buildings. It is however difficult to get into the buildings: secrecy is key.

Google HeadQuarters - Googleplex
Google HeadQuarters – Googleplex

At Apple, I spent some time at their ‘old’ HQ at 1, Infinite Loop in Cupertino. Same feelings again as with Google and Facebook: busy, young people everywhere, vibrating. Many ideas, and high quality. And good marketing of course :-).

I also visited the special Apple Store ‘next door’, where I was given specialised support for my own little company (GPI). Service was really good, including App Store support, showing real interest in what the company was about, my views, and taking my picture :-).

I was just ‘too early’ to see a glimpse of the upcoming iPhone X, which will be commercialised in a few days. Would have been nice.

Apple HQ at 1, Infinite Loop, Cupertino
Apple HQ at 1, Infinite Loop, Cupertino

I also hoped to visit at the inside their new Apple Park: the incredibly newly designed Apple HQ in the form of a spaceship. The cost of the new HQ is more than 4 billion USD, however it creates an impressive message of sustainability, cooperation and continuous evolution. And that is also important.

I was able to see a glimpse of the new HQ outside, and even that was already impressive. Landscaping is still in progress, and finalisation of roads and pavements is ongoing. It will open probably still fully in 2017. Meetings in the new building were, to my regret, not yet possible.

Apple Future HQ at Apple Park
Apple Future HQ at Apple Park

Back in San Francisco later that week, tourists and business people continued to occupy together a large part of the city. On every corner though, I felt the vibes and the future of technology coming. With Tech HQ’s of Twitter, Uber and others in the same streets, combined with the Californian values such sea and surfing, and start-ups and new ideas everywhere, makes this city always feeling special.

Sensing the Tech future in Belgium

Back at home in Belgium, and after such strong impressions on sensing the Tech future the last 2 weeks, the difference between the status of start-ups, business innovations, incubators in Belgium compared to France and the US feels big.

The country, and especially Brussels, Leuven and Gent, do have some incubators, but not yet at sizes seen in the other countries. Banks, investors and Belgian government must be able to put their hands together to offer greater opportunities to our local start-ups.

belgian-tech-day_def

Some universities have taken initiatives already, and a further innovative Belgian Tech Day is announced for this week in Antwerp. But so much more needs to happen if Belgium wants to be a real part of the Tech future. The environment is ready, and we do have some really good start-ups, so let’s go for it !

Thanks for reading, and take care,

Bas

October 22, 2017