The asset manager Prospery and the foreign exchange platform Franx are two 'corporate startups' that the mother bank, ABN AMRO, uses to explore and serve new online markets. Faultless and flexible IT is the basis for growth. In a new form of partnership, Schuberg Philis wants to grow with the partner while investing in our own development.
ABN AMRO's decision to structure both initiatives as startups relates to its strategy of having multiple recognizable brands for specific forms of service. The need for speed and maneuverability also played a role. Ronald Lokkers, General Director at Franx: "New players in the market are less hindered by an existing IT environment. They can go to the market faster and then improve continuously." Omar El Khamlichi, COO at Prospery, says: "The IT must enable changes to be made quickly and at low cost."
Reliability and availability are fundamental for both companies. Both startups work with multiple parties and suppliers for their basic IT requirements, which are partly in the public cloud. "We set the bar high," says Ronald Lokkers. "Good IT is our license to operate." Omar El Khamlichi: "Moreover with Schuberg Philis we know for sure that quality, security, and compliance are all in place." Schuberg Philis deals mainly with the technical application management, says Customer Director Rogier de Rooij.
"We keep the operation working and we play a role in testing." However he and his colleague Managing Director Jeroen Borst are looking further ahead. "We can play a role in their target operating model, in development, and in orchestrating the various partners that are involved."
The idea that there is scope for the role and contribution of Schuberg Philis to grow has led to a different way of working together. Jeroen Borst: "There's no 'one size fits all' way of providing services. We are open to other ways of working together and to initiatives in which we bear part of the risk, or even invest ourselves. Our approach is that, in the long term, we grow as our partners succeed."
Omar El Khamlichi is satisfied with this shared approach. "What's very positive is that we have a stable environment, and that the team thinks along with us and resolves any issues proactively. They don't get involved in blaming others, and in a certain sense they are already getting a foretaste of the orchestration role they would like to develop." He expects the fruits of the investment by Schuberg Philis to be mainly non-material. "I don't think they're simply biding their time until they can ask for a higher rate. It's more that they know they can learn something here. It's mainly an investment in their own development."
Both corporate startups have limited budgets. Franx once proposed a level of service lower than that on which Schuberg Philis has built its reputation. But at Schuberg Philis they were not interested in providing a sub-optimal package – "with an ounce less," as Rogier de Rooij puts it. "Normally, we couldn't provide services at this price, but we won't make any concessions when it comes to quality." Jeroen Borst: "If we were to change our concept of service, no-one would be happy. But we looked at our internal processes and found ways of running things automatically at lower cost. So, we're getting a return on this investment, while increasing our strategic value for our partners."
Prospery and Franx both appreciate the importance of a partnership for the longer term. Omar El Khamlichi: "We would like to make our IT landscape 100% future-ready by investing in the right solutions together. If we do that, there must be more emphasis on rapid change, in addition to smooth operation." Ronald Lokkers agrees: "We have a strong need for the quick delivery of changes. That's an important prerequisite for successful development for us all."