The natural transformation of TomTom

TomTom is a good example of how to achieve the digital transformation. In the new edition of About Christiaan De Backer, the navigation company’s chief information officer (CIO), talks about the corporate culture that is needed. “People are capable of embracing progress.”

At the beginning of the century, TomTom introduced the well-known ‘sat navs’ to be attached to the dashboard. But now TomTom has more consumer products, such as sports watches and action cameras, and the company is increasingly concentrating on the development of software applications in the area of location determination and mobility.

Digital transformation is needed

De Backer: “This transformation has been a fairly natural process at TomTom. It was already clear when the company was founded that we would not get by with one product. These days, a digital transformation is also needed. If your company is not working on it now, you will not survive in the long term. And if you think that it won’t have an impact in your sector, there’s a very high probability that you will not survive at all.”

The customer is always key

“You shouldn’t get anxious about it either”, De Backer continues. “I mostly see opportunities in digitisation. It creates a framework in which you can reinvent your business and which forces you to think about new services and products – in which the customer is always key. This is something that I also regard as a positive trend in the digital world: now we use technology to provide customers with new and improved services.”

Innovative culture

“The ability to make this transformation requires an appropriate innovative culture within a company. You have to allow innovation and accept that not every idea will be a success. You should also look at what is happening in other industries and learn from this. I also believe that it is very important to use scenarios. In this way, you reduce the risk of surprises but without knowing which scenario is the right one.”

This is a short version of an interview with Christiaan De Backer, CIO of TomTom. The interview is also published in the new edition of our corporate magazine About.