In the serene offices of inventive designers, whenever Jim Verbist is around, there’s a hive of activities in his office. One appointment after the other, often back to back. When there is a window to stretch his legs, you see a busy Jim going around the offices, checking on how everyone else is fairing. Jim has been serving as the company’s CEO since may last year …
From someone whom by first impression you would immediately see composure and calmness, it is still fascinating to see how he maintains his cool with all the responsibilities on his shoulders. We recently caught up with Jim and he shared his insights and experiences after taking over the CEO position at Inventive Designers.
Who is Jim Verbist?
I am structured and an orchestrator, probably due to my project management background. I am also very rational, but nevertheless aware of sensitivities that might play and taking them into account. I find the right balance within myself by stretching and relaxing. Yes, it works.
What kind of things do you like or find fascinating?
From a work point I like building up things, creating win-win situations and translating ideas into plans. What might come as a surprise though is that I like music, rhythm and dancing both privately and at a professional level. Could be my best kept secret (Laughs). Let’s move things forward. My other well-known hobby is that I love to cook.
My family and friends, including my colleagues at Inventive Designers, also form a very important aspect of my private life. I enjoy spending time with them.
There must be some things that you would rather do away with. What would they be?
Flights can be time consuming and tiring, I never really liked them. If I had a choice I would avoid them. Bureaucracy is a system that in general drags decisions. In the current fast-moving world, both in time and innovations, this system’s evolution seems to be at its slowest. But however, in general, I like everything else I do.
Give 3 words that describe you best.
No-nonsense, Pace-setter and Democratic.
Could you elaborate this a bit?
Well, my preferred management style is pace setting which means I can set and define standards. Usually high (Laughs). This way I can prepare and tackle challenges as they are as well as lead by example. My team describes my management style as democratic. I appreciate this very much, because I like helping people improve their skills. Thus, I encourage a hardworking environment, balanced with sufficient fun and team spirit. This goes a long way in creating an ideal productive company culture.
Your appointment as the CEO must have come with a huge responsibility. How has it been for you in the last year?
I must say it’s a big change. In the beginning, I really needed to get used to the frequent context switches. My working days are not necessary longer but much more intense now. So, finding the right balance between speed and delegation proved the real challenge. But I couldn’t avoid changing focus in my personal life either, so I’ve put my cooking courses on hold for the moment and created my own fitness room on the upper floor in my house.
As a CEO, you have the opportunity and influence to change somethings in the organisation. What have you been able to achieve so far?
Yes, that is very true. As a CEO, you can control and influence decisions on what must be changed and it is important that also the management team, is on the same page. When I took over, we decided to change a couple of things:
First, in June 2017 we decided to define a roadmap that would bring our Scriptura Engage platform to the cloud, thus starting with our managed services offering. Meanwhile in the last months we sent out several managed services quotes. We focus on unburdening our client’s and taking care of the full management of their customer communications, and they seem very excited about it.
Secondly, product dynamics and technological changes are faster than ever in the rapidly changing market we’re in. Banks and financial institutions are forerunners in terms of digital customer experience, this means we must instantaneously capitalise on this market evolution in our home market of banking and insurance.
Lastly, we are aware that in the world of digital customer experience, customer centricity is central. However, customer centricity starts with employee centricity, only satisfied and enthusiastic employees go the extra mile for our customers. Furthermore, we want to transform a family business into a professional international company. This is why we initiated a benchmark measurement of our organisation and outlined the roadmap to becoming an even more customer centric organisation.
What are the key goals that Inventive Group achieved in 2017?
A new CEO always has a big impact on an organisation when taking over. That is why the need to strike a balance is important. During the year, we took our time to especially reflect on what we needed to consolidate our growth plans in the coming year. That plan will transition over to our business plan for the next 5 years. The challenge next year is to prove that we can deliver on this business plan.
Structuring of our mission, strategy and the alignment of our product roadmap for the coming years has been a very important deliverable to me. We will broaden our scope from customer communication management to digital customer experience. Our main intention is to ensure that we unburden our customers through our managed services. Of course, the customers will still retain the ability to manage their communication chain in-house.
It is important to note that Business Empowerment is one of our key differentiators. The CMO and the marketing department traditionally have ownership of marketing communications but in today’s customer communication this also includes transactional communications. We foresee an increased interest in this area and have translated it into a concrete product roadmap in the extension of our new business-oriented web designer which has been received positively by our customers and partners.
Today, the IT industry poses as one of the most dynamic industries. In the course of the year, did you face product or industry challenges?
Of course, challenges are inevitable. The market is dynamic and fast-moving especially within our targets in the finance industry where we have a strong customer base. We need to keep up. In fact, even Gartner has decided to no longer to pursue CCM as a magical quadrant and instead has replaced it with Digital Customer Experience. We are closely following suit by listening to the needs of our customers and the industry, to stay ahead.
How have you been coping with them?
We spent a lot of time on market analysis and adapted our strategy to the needs of our customers and our prospects by:
- Translating our strategy in a clear guideline for the coming years and making a business plan. With it we will be able to follow up and accelerate on market trends.
- Finding the right partnerships which is a substantial part of this business plan.
Going forward, what should we expect in 2018 from Inventive Designers Group/Scriptura Engage?
It will be an exciting year ahead as we progress in finding the right partners & eco-systems that align with our mission vision and strategy. This will help when formulating appropriate solutions based on our customer needs and the fast-moving market trends.
In launching our managed services to completely unburden our customers, our 100% cloud solution transformation will be our gateway to ensuring exceptional Digital CX. Another major goal will be to commercially launch our web designer to our customers and potential customers. It confirms without a doubt that business empowerment is a real key differentiator to shorten the time-to-market challenge that our customers face today. We are on it!
What are you personally looking forward to, in the future?
This year, we mostly put a lot of effort in re-defining the vision, mission and strategy to prepare our organisation to a scalable international company. I really hope that next year we shall report on substantial international growth with our partners.
As we conclude, what piece of advice should we always take with us from you?
Believe in your own strength and consciously enjoy yourself in all your actions.
Thank you very much for your time and insights. I wish you a fruitful year ahead.