2020 has been, to say the very least, out of the ordinary. For individuals and businesses alike, the COVID-19 pandemic means a re-examination of long-established truths and unquestioned business assumptions. The global shift to lockdown mode and remote work was sudden and unstoppable. For many businesses – large and small – the COVID-19 crisis revealed itself to be a sledgehammer as well as a digital enabler.
Resilience proved to be a crucial quality. Businesses that were quick off the mark to question hard-wired beliefs, to look for weaknesses in their ‘business as usual’ way of doing business, to be alert for new opportunities: those companies did well. It is my sincere hope that Cegeka has been and remains instrumental in helping customers become, not just more digitally relevant, but also strategically resilient in what will be ‘the next normal’.
Cegeka did remarkably well, realizing 640 million euros in revenue, a growth of 14% compared to 2019. Stijn Bijnens not only succeeded in navigating this ship through a storm, he also succesfully redesigned Cegeka’s blueprint to better fit our customers’ needs. Our core offering – comprising of closely cooperating business lines for data solutions, infrastructure and applications – enables us to handle a great deal of complexity, while servicing our customers end-to-end.
I am also proud we persevered with a number of acquisitions that strengthened our market position. In the Netherlands, we finalized the acquisition of KPN ICT Consulting and Call2, and acquired data specialist Finavista. In Belgium, we joined forces with Gridmax and Citymesh, thus building a foundation for becoming the fourth mobile operator in Belgium. In 2021 and beyond, we will continue to expand our European footprint, both in existing regions and new ones.
In everything we do, every project we tackle, ‘in close cooperation’ is the promise we make to our customers. It stands for many things: technical skill, affinity with our customers’ business challenges and a focus on delivering tangible value. But above all, it stands for proximity, accessability and an ease of doing business. Our strong European identity and local presence, as well as the fact that our customers can look us in the eye: I firmly believe this makes a difference.
It has been a rough year. Everyone at Cegeka did far more than ‘go the extra mile’: it seems like we ran a whole marathon. I know that none of our success would have been possible without the people that ‘make’ Cegeka every single day: our customers, employees, stakeholders, investors and business partners. For your dedication, loyalty and perseverance, I am most deeply grateful.
Founder and Chairman of the Board
A little over a year ago, phrases such as ‘the new normal’, ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘post-corona’ where relatively fresh. Today, they are so overused they’ve become meaningless, which is why I will avoid them. But I can’t ignore COVID-19 altogether: many of us are weary after a nerve-wracking year, with one lockdown on the heels of another, and the light at the end of the tunnel still too far off to instill much optimism.
And yet. I am an incurable optimist. Which is why I want to look back and forward through the combined lenses of resilience and innovation. In 2020, many organizations and individuals have discovered they could do hard things in difficult circumstances. We humans are masters of moving on, of getting things done, of thinking beyond and around the obstacles. COVID-19, ironically but not surprisingly, turned out to be a digital accelerator, as well as a global pause-button.
Cegeka has done very well, and I can’t stress enough how proud I am of that. This comes courtesy of so many people. Our existing customers, who kept faith in us. New customers, who decided that we were the best possible partner for the road ahead. Our more than 5000 employees, who kept going, kept us going, and soldiered on from as many home offices. Our business partners, shareholders, stakeholders. All of you have contributed to this success. For this, I thank you.
On the brink of a post-pandemic renaissance
I firmly believe that resilience and innovation will fuel a post-pandemic renaissance. During the past year, many companies have found themselves in a ‘do or die’ gridlock on so many levels: enabling their employees to work remotely overnight, tackling the security issues that came with that shift post-haste, having to rethink their processes to keep doing business in a world where the rules had changed abruptly. Going digital became essential.
As an IT company, we are holding many of the trump cards, both to keep reinventing ourselves and to help our customers do the same. From a resilience point of view, our focus is on enabling customers to be always on, anywhere, on any device, securely and cost efficiently. Cloud infrastructure, security, digital workplaces: they simply must work, without hassle. It is our mission to ‘unburden’ CIOs of the headaches of operational IT, so they can focus on the business of innovating.
In 2020, we stepped up investments in our cyber security and cloud enablement programs, whilst maintaining the focus on our ‘cloud first’ strategy. I am particularly pleased with the progress we made with Cegeka Horizon, our multi-cloud customer engagement platform. Horizon ties in with CIOs’ need to have a holistic view and maintain control, providing them with a ‘single pane of glass’ unifying all services and solutions they subscribe to.
Innovation happens on the cutting edge of applications and data, with 5G and Artificial Intelligence as the game-changers for the next decade. The massive amount of data that AI needs to provide tangible business value, can be unlocked by 5G. And as for 5G, it gives the cloud ‘eyes and hands’. Hence our collaboration with 5G-pioneer Citymesh, which allows us to lay a strong foundation for becoming the fourth mobile operator in Belgium, and the first with a purely b2b focus.
2020 was also the year we doubled down on our efforts to build and market our own IP, with renewed investments in our smart mobility and healthcare solutions. In a year where all eyes were on the healthcare sector, I am proud of the work the nexuzhealth team is doing in building a cloud-native SaaS solution, unifying all patient records in a single version of the truth. With this project we aim, not just to digitize healthcare, but also to contribute to a world where care is efficient, transparant, as well as accessible and affordable for all.
‘In Close Cooperation’ as our North Star
We value our European identity. We are a European player with HQ in Belgium, a second home base in the Netherlands, and many local footprints, embodied and driven by strong local leadership and teams. There are almost 5000 of us today, and each and every one of us is easy to do business with. This is the idea behind our ‘in close cooperation’ tagline. It’s not just a slogan: it’s our North Star and the way we work, communicate and relate with one another.
As a European IT provider of digital ecosystems in many sectors of industry – from health to manufacturing, from government to finance, from energy to logistics - we are continuously setting the bar higher. We need to go both wide and deep: we aim to serve customers end-to-end in the interconnected fields of applications, data and infrastructure. And we do so based on a deep understanding of their specific business processes, their opportunities, their challenges. We ‘do’ IT, but we mean business.
We thrive on real-life connection
On a more personal level, the past year has been rough going for many of us. Working from home is one thing, but when remote is the only way to connect, we feel we miss out on something. Yes, we are more resilient than we thought. Yes, working remotely on a global scale has opened up avenues we had missed before. But the COVID-19 crisis has also made clear that we are a social species and that we thrive on real-life connection.
That is also what ‘in close cooperation’ is about. We’re an IT company, we’re highly digitized, helping customers become highly digitized. The world is digital. But we’re also people, and we’re in a people business. I hope that 2021 will be the year where we can reconnect in real life again, and look each other in the eye. This proximity, this familiarity, the fact that our customers know our names, know our faces, can pick up the phone and call us, is one of the success factors of Cegeka.
To conclude, it is said that the world needs a crisis sometimes. That is far too harsh, but I do believe that out of hardship come opportunities for change, and change for the better. This crisis – deeply tragic as it is – allows us to delete some of our hard-wired assumptions, challenge ‘old’ ways of thinking and reset the world in a smarter and more sustainable way.
Let’s do this together.
Cegeka has been and remains instrumental in helping customers become, not just more digitally relevant, but also strategically resilient in what will be ‘the next normal’.