DISCOVER Magazine #7

Talking about online business strategies

Published in category: People

In the last five years Damen’s digital presence has both expanded and improved. The man behind these developments is Björn Smets who is responsible for online and digital marketing across the company. Here, he tells us more about the digital strategy and how it is impacting customer interactions.

“We started to invest more in the online side of the business in 2011,” he says. “With a new vision, the first step was to present the whole group on one big platform. One corporate strategy with a uniform look and feel. The idea was to present products in a clear way to our potential clients.”

With the tools of rapidly advancing technologies at hand, it wa s very quickly realised that a digital platform had a far broader scope than a website alone. “A website is just a small item in the large arena of digital possibilities. It is a mechanism with which you can do hundreds of things, but you have to know your goals. It can serve as a service partner for your customers or it can inform journalists. It can also position your company in the career market – who are your future colleagues?”

Back to the business of selling ships: “There are many different decision makers involved in the ship-buying process and they all need access to the information that is relevant to them. For example, the finance guys need to know things like the operational costs and the approximate value after 10 years. The technical departments, on the other hand, want detailed information about engines and equipment. Every target group has to be informed – that’s online business.”

“This content-on-demand is our next phase, moving to 2020. It’s the personalisation of the digital experience and making sure individual website visitors will have the best browsing experience for their purposes.”

Social behaviour
In an ever-evolving world, a website is not always the only way to come into contact with customers. So, our digital strategy has grown to include diverse social media platforms. “This is a changing world and social media are very important for companies when communicating with their clients.”

“On LinkedIn we want to interact with our followers, whether they are students, suppliers or owners or purchasers, CEO’s or jobseekers. With the knowledge we have gained we can personalise messages. In this way, and of course provided that our content is right for the reader, we can reach out to more than 150,000 people.”

Shifting boundaries
The central hub in Björn’s online vision is the importance of data. “It’s the middle point of everything we do. We can use data to make a client’s life easier and to help them save money. The Internet of ‘Things on a ship’, for example. In the near future, sensors in components will tell technicians when they need replacing.” As the boundary between data and human content becomes diffused, communication between people and machines will increase. “Man becomes more like machine, machine becomes more like man.”

Financial transactions are also set to change: “The use of blockchain technology will be the game-changer in the future of digital transactions. As an alternative value transfer system, it will make it possible for two parties to make trusted business transfers without the need for third party interactions. This move towards a decentralised financial system will affect all our monetary activities. For Damen, there is great potential with this platform.”

Share, learn & create
“The way that we communicate and interact is changing. Technology has created market possibilities that were not achievable before. These give us great opportunities to get in contact with customers and they can find what they seek. Also, they tell us what they need and where to improve. As Mr Damen says in the first article of this magazine, feedback is of the utmost importance, as only together we can share, learn and create new products.” Which leads us to Mr Smets’ concluding message: “The world is changing, and Damen is changing with it.”



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