CIO Lourens Visser keeps Port of Rotterdam's systems ship-shape, read the full interview here.
By Mark Chillingworth
“We are landlords and a very good infrastructure management company,” Visser explains. The city of Rotterdam and the national government of Holland own the Port of Rotterdam and each receives a dividend from the port.
“We are very profitable, so you need a good relationship also with the clients that use the port and to ensure that the profit is used to invest in making the port better.”
“We really have a long-term vision as an organisation. Our business is planning what kind of businesses we want to have as far ahead as 2030.”
“We co-operate with other ports too and have a 50-50 joint venture with the Port of Oman as we know how to attract companies to a port and there is a spin-off advantage for Rotterdam.”
“When the port vision plan came out I felt that we had to have an IT strategy to go with it and it was needed. Previously projects were on a first-come, first-served basis. Also the maintenance budget was growing and I wanted innovation.”
“We developed the IT strategy with the business; previously IT was an island. If we really cooperate we will be really strong, I told the business,” he says. “We have developed 17 change programmes that we need and identified what business processes will change as part of them.”
“My budget for this year is bigger than last year’s. Make IT more visible and valuable.”
“I want to ask the business why they need certain requirements and what will go wrong if they don’t get those requirements.” In many cases, he adds, technology is the only way an organisation can continue to fulfil parts of its role, be more efficient and replace skills or knowledge. Yet the IT department has not always been able to challenge and deliver on the promise. “The Harbour Master’s division is facing a problem, with many people retiring the coming years. Part of a solution to tackle this is IT,”
“Holland has a lot of bad experiences of IT, especially in the public sector, so we decided to keep it in-house. For small ports there are off-the-shelf applications. We did investigate the top 20 products available, but the task range that we have at the port is so different."
“We cannot describe our requirements so well to an IBM or Capgemini that they will understand, so it will go wrong,” he admits. The first major implementation went live in April 2011 for the inspectors and this year the harbour traffic management system itself will go live."
“The old system was a risk. The pilots and tugs in the port rely on our information for their business. In 2010 there were some big outages.”
“In-house was a well taken decision, as was the decision to evaluate,” Visser says in reflection. “It was a learning curve for the business and IT.”