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George van Duyneveld, Business Development Leader Benelux at IBM:

“If you are going on a journey together, it’s best if you can get along”

Creating a brand-new IT infrastructure for the Dutch Ministry of Defence is a very prestigious, large and complex project. “Including all suppliers and subsuppliers, as many as a hundred parties could be involved,” says George van Duyneveld, who negotiated the contract on behalf of IBM last year. “As the main contractor and point of contact, it’s up to IBM to bring all these companies and people together.”

Dynamics

That sounds like a challenging task, but George takes a lot of pleasure from finding the right parties for a project and ensuring that they are all able to work together well. “Three and a half years ago, we heard from the Ministry of Defence that they wanted to build a data centre. IBM was commissioned with finding a capable specialist for this. We then conducted a scan of the market and issued a call for tenders. Unica’s tender came out on top.”

George says that a conversation with the management confirmed the choice, since it was clear that Unica understood completely what long-term cooperation as part of a consortium entailed. “Special dynamics develop when a large number of parties work together on a complex project,” says George. “Unica knows this better than anyone, since they deliver buildings with technical rooms that have to meet extremely high requirements. A clean-room environment at a hospital or the construction of a data centre, for example. In order to ensure these controlled environments function properly, you have to bring together a lot of parties and components.”

Succeeding together

But simply bringing companies and people together isn’t enough. According to George, a consortium can only be successful if a couple of basic criteria are met. “Of course trust is the most important condition for successful cooperation,” says George. “When I look at IBM and Unica, I see a lot of trust. And it’s important not to be afraid of bringing things up with each other. Over the last few months I’ve got to know a lot of people at Unica who are straightforward and don’t take things to heart,” he laughs. “So things are going well in that respect too.”

When two worlds come together, as in the case of IBM and Unica, that can sometimes cause communication problems. “You have to put even more effort into ensuring you are clear, honest and predictable,” says George. “On a technical level, sometimes we really do speak a different language. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand each other  every now and then, as long as you always keep in mind that the other party probably means well. And if difficulties do arise, as they inevitably do in a complex situation, the key is to work together to overcome them. IBM and Unica both have that intention and share the same philosophy: “if you are going on a journey together, it’s best if you can get along.”

A great relationship of trust has developed, in which we work shoulder to shoulder

Great people

George has got to know Unica better in recent months and is very satisfied with the cooperation so far. “A great relationship of trust has developed, in which we work shoulder to shoulder,” he says. “Unica is a technically skilled company, that achieves great, tangible results. I think the way that Unica is organised as a network of companies is very smart and interesting. That allows you to continue to be innovative as a company and do what you’re good at. Unica serves a niche market and distinguishes itself from other companies with a more traditional approach.” And, last but not least, George would like to say something about the personal aspect of the collaboration. “Everyone knows that it’s the people who make a company. Unica employs really great people. So I know for sure that we will be able to complete this project successfully.”