The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Mobco
The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Mobco
Working in technology hubs on both side of the Atlantic, we’re always keen to know more about the innovators nearby. Each week in our newsletter – The Prompt Byte – we interview a local innovator to learn more about technology and inspiration on both sides of the Atlantic.
This week, we talked with Ulrik Van Schepdael, the founder of Belgium-based Mobco. Mobco is helping companies mobilize their IT infrastructure with secure device management and mobilizing applications.
- What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation is for me the practical application of an invention (technology, process, ….). One of the key roles of our company is just to do that for our customers. We scan the mobile technology, apps and possibilities and translate that into practical and applicable “tools” for our customers businesses.
An iPad in business is not an innovation as such, but the fact we can remotely configure those devices and enable mobile sales or field force to do their job more efficiently, that’s innovation.
- Tell us about Mobco’s vision:
There is an evolution ongoing where the IT department gradually no longer
‘purchases’ employee hardware. Focus now goes to the management of the Corporate Data and Apps on those devices. That’s certainly true for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, but this is also the trend we see happening with Macbooks and Windows 8.1/10. In our vision we see IT evolving from controlling hardware to controlling data. Our job, our mission, is to support the business in that transition, hence our baseline: ‘we mobilize your business’.
- What do you predict or look forward to in 2015 with regards to Belgium’s innovation culture?
When we started 5 years ago with Mobile Device Management people looked at us and asked us ‘why’? Today, we see that every IT integrator has a mobile offering, and that’s great. Mobile is generally accepted in the business, no doubt about that. For 2015 and beyond, this mobile innovation trend is becoming more
important than ever before: companies are actually thinking mobile first. Or better – they’re basically thinking out of the (PC) box. This opens new opportunities and new possibilities. Doing business in Belgium is typically only possible on a small scale given the size of the market, the language. With the rise in importance of mobile technology, it’s no longer an issue and the market is global.
Nobody in our region should feel like “if I’m not in Silicon Valley, I will fail.” On the contrary, you’re better of NOT being in SiliconValley – the talent you need might live next door and you will not suffer from fierce HR competition to get it. Traditional businesses need to re-invent themselves (see the rise of online sales versus traditional sales) and new technology brings new opportunities for innovation, also on a small scale.
This is for me the trend forward, it’s smaller IT companies, innovative companies with in-house expertise. Companies with a focus. You could basically compare it with the trend we’ve seen in retail, we all saw the small shops disappearing in favor of the oversized supermarkets.
The consumers are turning their back to supermarkets if they want special advice, but for fast shopping of the basics the supermarket is fine. Bottom line; in IT we see the large integrators and operators suffering from cloud services which are providing the ‘basics’ and we see small expert companies providing the ‘top value’ the business needs
- What are some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the Belgium technology scene?
The challenge in Belgium is currently no different than anywhere else. I believe we have just as much talent as anywhere else. This makes the challenge universal.
Business apps that are specific to the local economy and focused on the business are the 2015 opportunity.
- If you could meet any single innovator (alive or dead) over a coffee, who would you want to meet?
Steve Jobs would be top of mind. I admire the way he built values that are used today to create new products and the way he took the computer industry from “look how fast this PC is” to “look what you can do with this device” – an innovation on its own.
- Name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you really wanted (recently or a past purchase) and why you bought it.
I buy a lot of stuff and not all experiences are brilliant I must admit… but there is one I want to share with you and that’s the Harmony Home Hub. This ‘hub’ is simple to set-up, simple to use and combines basic technologies to deliver a user experience you’re looking for.
It combines Bluetooth for your remote control, no more point and shoot to reach the TV or amp, it interprets your commands into signals IR to different devices at once and you control the whole set-up over Wi-Fi via a web interface that knows just about any brand and device out there.
It comes for 100 USD and solved all my home remote problems. I’m not saying we’re doing the same in our business, but we do simplify the life of the IT admin and take away the mobile complexity. At the same time we enable more functionalities on the mobile devices and we do bring a brilliant user experience to the employee!