From conversational service to conversational commerce
What does it take to make the leap from conversational service to conversational commerce?
In 2001, while studying computer science at university, I laid the foundations for what would later become Gen25. It was a time in which I learned exactly what I wanted, but also what I didn't want. I had completed a traineeship with a major multinational and it felt to me like a machine for churning out billable hours, where innovation was a distant afterthought. I wanted to do things differently; I was convinced that lack of innovation leads to stagnation and stagnation will eventually result in falling behind. That same conviction determines the course and culture of Gen25 to this very day.
I've always felt great affinity for CRM and the 360-degree view of the client's needs. I felt that companies should be giving the customer a more central role than was typical in those days. Just out of interest, I started keeping track of all the CRM systems. Here, we started out with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, but it didn't match our vision of a complete cloud strategy. Then we switched to Salesforce. It was pretty much unknown in Europe at the time, but I was a strong believer in the cloud strategy applied by Salesforce. This is a true cloud strategy, where all aspects are managed from a single, central cloud. While everyone's always talking about 'the cloud' these days, what they're referring to is still often a hybrid and rather diffuse. From the very first day, Salesforce made it clear they do everything in the cloud - that really appealed to me.
We have an extremely loyal team; I think that's the most important thing. We select people with the right work ethic, who fit within our culture, and then we make sure they truly feel at home with us and have the freedom they need to develop. We get together every Friday for drinks, for instance, we share our knowledge and expertise with one another, and we have what are called 'innovation and development hours' to allow our people time to work on applications they've developed themselves. I think that's what makes people want to stay with the company so long - and that continuity is crucial when you want to grow as an organisation.
I hope by then we are so successful that we're able to give something back to help other budding entrepreneurs. If there's enough money, I'd like to facilitate people with the same level of ambition and the same perspective on entrepreneurship by investing in their ideas. And in those investments, like the rest, my most important criterion will be that they enjoy what they do!