OIC Europe Speaker Interview: Jan Willem Sewalt, Starbucks

Jan Willem Sewalt is Manager, Operations Excellence Office – Service Strategy & Design at Starbucks Coffee,  and he will be part of the following panel session at Ovum Industry Congress Europe, taking place in Amsterdam on 8 October 2014: The Future of CX – What it takes to keep customers coming back year in and year out. We asked Jan about his experience and projects, as well as his expectations from the conference. Here’s what he had to say:

Jan Willem SewaltOvum: At OIC Europe, I am most looking forward to:

JWS: the key topics during this event, are: Strategy, Technology and the art of the possible. Three topics that are currently hot topics within Starbucks and topics that are on my agenda to address, discuss, agree about with both Starbucks Global IT and all relevant EMEA BU stakeholders and finally change/implement. So, it will be truly beneficial to hear about these topics by other leaders in the various branches how they think about this and, if already implemented / changed, which benefits were achieved. Besides that, I also want to hear about the lessons learned and get an clear view on risks and possible challenges that come with these kind of major topics. Building a realistic strategy for Starbucks’ IT, fully aligned with current and future IT solutions that are out there and building the desired framework that will show it’s predicted added value, is the challenge I am facing currently…

Ovum: What are some of the challenges of your job?

JWS: in order to achieve the mentioned goals (Strategy supported by current & future IT solutions, in time, within budget and above customer’ expectation) it is key to have a full understanding of what is possible and of what is desireable/demanded (by the business). My main challenge here is first to get a general understanding by the business of what is possible, both functional and financial, secondly, managing the BU’ changing expectations and demands, when (new) solutions are implemented. Last, but not least, it is sometimes quite difficult to prove the added value of such a new solution, both functional and financial, there the predicted results are not always instantly showing the added value predicted. Firm and close customer engagement is the key word here, in order to be successful; constantly teaming with your customer organization and a strong relationship with PMO is key…from the initial start of a project / change / new initiative until daily sustainment.

Ovum: What skills and qualities would you most value in your successor?

JWS: In order to be a champion in my area of expertise, you need to be a strong communicator, mediator, analyst and decision maker, besides profound knowledge of ITIL V3 and Business IT.

You need to be in a constant state of (fierce) communication with both your providers and customers, in order to deliver the right solution, in time, within budget and above expectations. In case of escalations, you also need to have strong mediation skills, in order to get the job done and leaving all involved happy with the final results. In order to justify a new solution, your analytical skills are imperative; you need to be 110% sure that the proposed solution will bring all the requested benefits to your customer. And to make it all happen as foreseen, you need to be bold enough to make decisions, both positive and negative, in order to make it happen at the end!

Ovum: What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise, and how can you prepare?

JWS: In my area of expertise, process management is leading. The coming trend here is that the customer is getting more and more knowledgeable and experienced with regards to this (process wise), meaning that they don’t take it for granted anymore. In the old days a Powerpoint deck with difficult Visio drawings would do the trick, in order to convince your customer of the need of a process framework to be successful. Nowadays, you need to be prepared for some fierce conversations and show with real-life examples that your approach is the best to adopt and that it will truly benefit the customer in his/her daily war…

Ovum: What has been the most rewarding project you worked on, and why it was rewarding?

JWS: building our new EMEA IT Organization and transferring it from a (re)active, fragmented cost center, into a pro-active profit center with a strong IT leadership team and fully aligned service units that wow our customer! This change not only improved overall EMEA IT productivity and the quality of it’s service delivery; It also evolved its members, both business wise and personal.

Ovum: What in your opinion will be the next big change in the way that we work and the way in which businesses engage with their employees – and specifically the way IT has to service their customers?

JWS: that would be mobility and therefore the possibility to work wherever and whenever you desire. Cloud computing will be crucial here, besides connectivity and stability of the supporting (IT) tools.

You can view all of the topics to be discussed at OIC Europe on the event agenda, and you can discuss these topics and more with Jan, and all our speakers, by registering today (enterprise end-users can claim a complimentary pass).

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