'Royal FloraHolland can expand trade through digitalisation'17 June 2020
Royal FloraHolland, together with all growers and buyers, is about to take a big step in digitalisation. A step towards a new world in which the services provided by Royal FloraHolland as a company are guided not by physical processes, but by advanced information provision. Howard Misser has been Manager Digital at Royal FloraHolland since April. He explains why digitalisation is so important.
The aim of Royal FloraHolland is to achieve sustainable growth in the floriculture sector by connecting growers and buyers to all parties in the floriculture sector through a digital trading platform. As a sector we are becoming smarter, more sustainable and more efficient and we are creating a future-proof floriculture sector. As Manager Digital, Howard Misser has a role in a dynamic place where he works with all the teams involved to shape the digitalisation of Royal FloraHolland and the sector. But what exactly does digitalisation mean and why is it so important? We ask Howard six questions.
What can you tell us about your role within Royal FloraHolland?
"I've worked for Royal FloraHolland since September 2018. I started in the role of Business Technology Manager, mainly focused on the clock domain, and recently moved to the position of Digital Manager. I became involved in the programme when the concrete plans were presented to develop Floriday from a supply platform to a two-sided platform. In particular, to focus on the technological aspect of Floriday, including the technical architecture and sourcing of the teams".
What exactly does digitalisation mean to you?
"Digitalisation involves fundamental changes. It makes my heart beat faster. In order to understand the term 'digitalisation' properly, it is first of all important not to confuse it with 'automation'. In short, automation is the use of computers to support or take over a specific physical action. For example, classic robots on an assembly line or the first generation of navigation software. Digitalisation means that data processing and information provision become the focus, the leading factors, and determine the value of the service. For example: Google has gained a dominant position in online advertising in the media sector, at the expense of the established media companies that initially did not even consider Google to be a media company. Google's strength lies in advanced data processing that predicts interests, needs and buying intentions. This is much valued by advertisers. In this way, Google has expanded the sector and created a focal point for itself in the new value chain. Now, let's briefly get back to the navigation software. The recent generation makes use of traffic volume prediction. The value of the navigator resides in this data processing - fully digitally! Digitalisation means that a lot of data becomes available. In floriculture that is the basis for new services that add a lot of value".
Why is digitalisation so important for the sector?
"I would like to express it as follows: in a digital marketplace, information converges, all stakeholders can do business better informed and trade across the marketplace grows as a result. Look how that happened in other sectors. It is clear that such a smart marketplace can only work if there are good and clear agreements on data governance. That subject has our full attention. We're working hard on that now. In some other sectors this had to be rectified retrospectively. In short, digitalisation is a major step forward as a sector. From physical trading, supported by fragmented automation, you move towards a digitalised sector. I strongly believe that Royal FloraHolland is by nature the ideal party to achieve the digital possibilities for the sector. But also that Royal FloraHolland is the party that can provide the new infrastructure to implement this digitalisation and allow trade to grow. And just to be clear, don't make the mistake of thinking that digitalisation will reduce the value of logistics services. For quite some time, digitalisation has also played a prominent part in the world of logistics. Just take a good look around you."
What is Royal FloraHolland's role in this process?
"My vision is that information management will become key for
the marketplaces of Royal FloraHolland. Our appeal will be that our
marketplace is where people can trade in the most informed and
efficient way. Again, through digitalisation, our logistics
services will also be the smartest and the most efficient. In
addition, our marketplace will be the best place for specialised
companies to offer their information services to all parties in the
future. I believe that the corona crisis has strongly emphasised
the need for digitalisation. We need to follow this course and
accelerate digitisation by making smart choices.
My dream is that by building the new digital infrastructure for the sector, we at Royal FloraHolland will do for our sector what Amazon has done with cloud computing for the software industry and what Google and Apple have done with their app platforms for the entertainment industry, among others".
Why is 100% Digital so important?
"This is a crucial year, because in 2020 we are going to take a great step forward with the 100% Digital programme. With Floriday we strive for a complete range of ordering, payment and delivery. We make the widest, deepest and also most sustainable range of flowers and plants worldwide available digitally in a variety of ways. Both through the clock and directly. We are convinced that we are truly doing our stakeholders a big favour with 100% Digital. With Floriday, doing business becomes easier, clearer and more efficient. Through the 100% Digital programme, we want to make sure that all direct trade this year will be conducted through Floriday. Scale is crucial. A platform such as Floriday must serve as large a network as possible with the widest possible range of products. If we achieve our goal before the end of this year, we will have taken a great step towards digitalisation by connecting growers and buyers to that new digital infrastructure. Then we can continue our mission and offer ever richer supporting digital services for the glory and honor of our industry".
Where do you see Royal FloraHolland in five years' time?
"It is important to realise that we are building a digital infrastructure that will never actually be completed. Of course, the market itself is changing: growers and buyers are adapting their way of doing business to new circumstances. In addition, the world of computerization and digitalisation is constantly developing at a rapid pace - look at other sectors as well - and it is therefore important that a platform like Floriday does the same. In fact, you are never really done and will have to constantly interact with growers and buyers to create better and new digital solutions. In five years' time, I see a digital marketplace where demand and supply will be brought together in various (new) ways and to which a multitude of (information) service providers will be connected. Floriday will become the new infrastructure of the floriculture sector that everyone will be able to use and will want to make use of. Soon we will be the digital centre of the industry, and Royal FloraHolland is ideally suited to provide the infrastructure to implement all the innovations that are possible in the sector".
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