Navigating a global organization through a global health crisis in a world of provincial thinking

Everyone can’t be right

As CEO of a data management software company with a team of highly-skilled people scattered across the globe, this is something I have to tell myself, and members of my leadership team, on a regular basis. 

Until recently, this meant it was often my responsibility to evaluate recommendations from different, and occasionally dissenting, but always well-informed sources. And then to make the best decision for the organization based on the most trustworthy information and insight possible. 

That is the beauty of leading a confident, yet humble, organization where everyone is in it to win. And where it’s clear that what is best for all of us supersedes what is best for any one of us (myself included).

Then came the Coronavirus / COVID-19 and suddenly, living in a world where “everyone can’t be right” creates a whole new challenge.

I should say here that, since we are based in Denmark, a small country ranked 115th by population – we are accustomed to managing the subtleties and complexities of global markets. While our software addresses universal challenges and needs, to succeed we must always keep in mind that what works for our customers or employees in one country does not always match with what works in another. 

But COVID-19 is different. While it clearly presents an equally disruptive threat to people and societies everywhere, the actions being taken to contain it aren’t nearly as consistent. 

Here in Denmark, where we typically take what might be seen as a careful, more measured approach, our health authorities had been monitoring developments closely and following advisories from the WHO. That is until confirmed infections multiplied (113 as of this writing), including a former world cup football player, leading to an elevated risk assessment and a range of cautions and responses including quarantines, cancellations of large gatherings and advisories against casual contact. While unconfirmed, there are also rumors circulating of contingency plans for an even more direct response, should the situation escalate. 

But as I said earlier, “everyone can’t be right.”

Or shall I say, what is right for Denmark now is not necessarily right for those elsewhere. For example, looking East to China, where our business and presence has grown rapidly, authorities are moving assertively now after initial criticisms. Restrictions, quarantines and lockdowns abound, all enabled by extensive tracking of data provided by tech leaders including Alibaba Group. 

Once again, “everyone can’t be right.”

To the West, while many people and communities across the United States are highly concerned, and where confirmed COVID-19 cases are popping up in increasing numbers nationwide, the official government response is more tempered. Quarantines are self – though not legally – enforced. Selected gatherings and events (most recently Austin’s SXSW) have been cancelled. And while an $8.3B emergency spending plan has been approved in the worlds largest economy and significant more initiatives will be announced later today, many are concerned that decisive action should have come more quickly, including many of our employees working across multiple states.

So which direction shall our company take? What kind of guidance shall I, as CEO, provide across the company that bridges everyone’s individual concerns for their safety and health in the days ahead? Shall we work in the office or go advise people to go remote? Travel to customer sites? What about global company and industry meetings and events? 

Do we take the somewhat balanced approach as we are being advised here in Denmark? Or perhaps the much more draconian approach that has taken hold across China and much of Asia? Or maybe the more moderate approach as we’ve seen thus far in the U.S.?

It is a decision that has weighed heavily on my mind over the past few weeks and I know others in similar positions must feel the same way. How – as the leader of a modern dynamic global organization, operating in a global business environment where borders are less visible to so many people than they have ever been before, faced with a crisis of truly global proportions – does one take action against a backdrop of what I can only describe as provincial, or parochial thinking?

It occurs to me that in what has become an increasingly interdependent global society – a world where cultures and economies are becoming increasingly intertwined, and where our fortunes can rise and fall quickly due to unexpected, extraordinary global challenges and events – we can’t risk allowing our regional biases to jeopardize our safety as a whole. 

Bill Gates has long warned that the world is ill-equipped to manage a pandemic. And WHO has yet to conclusively say that the novel coronavirus has reached the level of a pandemic, but I have to support Gates when he say: “I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise,” as Gates wrote in an op-ed for the New England Journal of Medicine February 28.

I’m not sure if the dilemma I have had to face regarding COVID-19 is the first of its kind. But I am pretty certain it won’t be the last. The next one may not involve healthcare. Whatever it is, I hope that technology can be applied to solve things in a more unified way. By providing better insight into data – and increased transparency for people around the world into global events – I believe we can all begin to think things through and address huge challenge like COVID-19 together. 

As I said at the start, “Everyone cannot be correct.” 

Once we all realize that, there isn’t a global challenge we can’t collectively take on. 

I should note here that in the days it took to put this opinion to paper, we continue our cautious approach, based on insights from the WHO, cancelling all non-essential business travel for at least the rest of this month, setting up local teams to monitor the situation locally, drill testing our contingency and evacuation plans, while continue to delight our customers virtually with less face-2-face meetings. We’ll figure out what is right for us from there. I hope for the same for you, as well.

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Merry Christmas

One thing I enjoy about the holidays is exchanging cards from friends and family everywhere. In a world gone digital, it’s nice to see the printed word is still a popular way to celebrate and connect.

I recently read sending Christmas cards began in 1611 when one was received by James I of England and his son, the Prince of Wales.

This reminded me of the history of the company where I’m the CEO – Stibo Systems. This company’s story actually began in 1794 as Danish printing house Aarhus Stiftsbogtrykkerie. They worked at first primarily for the Church and the King. But they grew over time, eventually publishing many catalogs. Managing all that data required sophisticated software, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Much has changed since then. Yet, 224 years later, Stibo Systems remain connected to that humble print shop. With a focus on getting the right (master) data to the right places, in the right way.

If they could see today, I know the people of Aarhus Stiftsbogtrykkerie would be as proud as I am. Proud to be part of such a dedicated team, of what we accomplished this year and of the potential we have ahead.

I Boyum-IT where I’m Chairman and we are closing yet another stellar year with significant growth. I’m equally part to be part of this amazing growth journey where we have grown with a factor x18 the last 9 year. And we will continue next year.

And in Clear View Trade we are turning the 1’000 customer mark – a truly amazing result from the Clear View Trade team.

To all who work so hard to stay on the forefront and to everyone we work with to apply common sense to achieve success, I’d like to express my gratitude and wish you all a joyous holiday and a wonderful new year.

A

How to develop a dataculture

While departing from LA bound for Tokyo I wrote the below a perspective on how to develop a #dataculture within your organization. In this article to Information Age I explain how the process of developing a data culture will inevitably expose some data issues that reveal where there is room for improvement. This is a positive outcome. Next step is to leverage the optimised organisation and monetise the data. Happy reading.

https://www.information-age.com/data-culture-organisation-123477438/

Proving the integration strength of Boyum Solutions

On April 26 2018 Boyum Solutions announced the acqusition of Produmex. Here on June 14th I’mas teh chairman of Boyum Solution proud to announce that our customers now can use the widespread B1UP features in Produmex!

Aarhus, Denmark, June 14th, 2018

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Create validations, function buttons, mandatory fields and more – surely we haven’t integrated all versions but with B1UP 2018.06 or higher and Produmex 18.2 or higher you are good to go – who else can do that in less than a month ?

You can read more here.

Boyum IT cements global leading position with new acquisition

Boyum IT Solutions, a global leading Danish SAP Business One Software solutions provider, has once again acquired a foreign company. The new acquisition is Belgian company Produmex, which is part of Boyum IT Solutions from today onwards.

 

Aarhus, Denmark, April, 26, 2018

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In September 2016, Boyum IT Solutions, the world’s leading supplier of software solutions for the ERP system SAP Business One, acquired the Swiss beas Group, a top international provider of manufacturing software for SAP Business One. Boyum IT has now acquired the Belgian company Produmex, which gives them a unique position in the warehouse management market.

Produmex, formerly part of SAP consulting company Movilitas Consulting, specializes in warehouse management. With this acquisition, Boyum IT Solutions expands its portfolio of products for the SAP Business One ERP system in the global SMB segment. With 500 partners in 92 countries, Boyum IT Solutions has been building the industry’s largest customer base since 2004, and the acquisition of Produmex creates opportunities in a brand new market, with the ability to offer a complete solution for complex inventory management.

The acquisition of beas Group earned Boyum IT Solutions an extremely strong position in the manufacturing market. ”Similarly, the acquisition of Produmex ensures that we can now offer our customers a complete solution for inventory management. Produmex is a large global solution provider within the SAP Business One community, and by welcoming their team and products into the Boyum fold, we will strengthen our market- leading position. These two products complement each other perfectly, and the combination enables us to provide our partners with the comprehensive solution they require. All in all, we are very pleased with this transaction and the merger of the two companies”, says Mikael Boyum, CEO and founder of the Boyum Group.

“Joining forces with Boyum IT Solutions just makes strategic sense’’, says Kris Adriaenssens CEO and founderof Produmex. ‘’Combining our teams and world leading supply chain and manufacturing solutions provides our partners with the competitive edge to compete in the fierce ERP landscape to their customer’s advantage.’’

The Danish technology-focused private equity fund, GRO Capital, invested in Boyum IT Solutions in connection with the acquisition of the beas Group, and the strengthening of Boyum IT Solutions is fully aligned with their strategy for Boyum IT Solutions.

Boyum IT Solutions provides software solutions for the continued global digitalization of small and medium- sized businesses. ‘We have had an eye on Produmex for a while, as with it we will achieve a unique position in the manufacturing business segment, in which customers often also need a warehouse management solution. With an overall market growth of 10% p.a., the growth potential of each of Boyum’s individual software solutions is attractive, but the combination of beas and Produmex will be very strong in the SAP Business One market, and will hopefully accelerate the growth of Boyum IT Solutions’, comments Lars Lunde, partner in GRO Capital.

The acquisition of Produmex brings Boyum IT Solutions 50 new employees – the total number of employees in the Solutions part of the company is now over 100. In the last fiscal year, Boyum IT Group realized a revenue of just over DKK 100 million.