Collaboration is key in the age of Everything Transaction

08 January 2019 7 min. read
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With the volume of data generated by interconnected transactions set to boom in coming years, many firms are struggling to handle the situation on their own. As consulting firm INNOPAY launches its new book ‘Everything Transaction’, sat down with CEO Shikko Nijland to reflect on the importance of collaboration.

INNOPAY is a consultancy firm specialised in digital transactions, leveraging digital technologies to help clients innovate the way they create and exchange value. Dating back to 2002, INNOPAY has grown since its inception to become a leading player in the Netherlands and Germany, with offices in Amsterdam, Berlin and Frankfurt. According to CEO Shikko Nijland, it is a “nice milestone to celebrate how far we have come,” however, he adds there is still so much to achieve in the future.

One of the key events in the firm’s immediate future is the launch of ‘Everything Transaction’, a book authored by Shikko Nijland, Douwe Lycklama and Chiel Liezenberg (co-founders of the firm). The book, which is now available in all main book stores, reveals many insights and experiences across a wide range of topics such as the impact of digitalisation, the growth of the transactional ecosystem, the commercial opportunities presented by data sharing, and the benefits of decentralisation and collaboration.

The guide to Everything Transaction

Nijland joined the consultancy as Managing Partner of INNOPAY Netherlands in 2012. He has seen a great deal of change during his time heading the firm, but in a recent interview, he suggested that the most important lesson he could currently take from it was the importance of collaboration. In today’s digital era, Nijland highlighted that this key skill is set to become a major differentiator. Speaking to on the launch of INNOPAY’s written guide to modern transactions, he warned that companies are underestimating the complexity of data handling in the digital age and will need to work with others if they are to survive and thrive. According to Nijland, the main message of the book is that the number of transactions is “going to explode”, and that people are currently not aware of how many transactions there will be, or how disruptive this could be.

Collaboration is key in the age of Everything TransactionHe explained, “For example, if you look at Internet of Things, a lot of departments and firms will become connected, and a lot of transactions will be exchanged in the future that weren’t there before. Thanks to new technologies, all this data will have more value and will become more important, because it can give insights into a company. But there will be so much data that it will be difficult to handle alone. At the same time, because of regulation such as GDPR, companies will be responsible for the data that is exchanged.”

Should companies fail to deal with these new responsibilities regarding their growing glut of data, they will expose clients to breaches of data. When that happens, as has been well-publicised, huge fines can now be leveraged to punish a company for such a transgression. However, the responsibility here is not a one-way-street, and consumers should be wary of falling into a false sense of security regarding their own obligations on data protection.

Nijland elaborated, “What is also in the book is that there is a data benefit imbalance, meaning that some companies benefit a lot from having consumer data, whilst the consumer doesn’t benefit from it at all. GDPR is helping to change this balance. But once the power returns to the consumer, it comes with an obligation. Consumers will then have the power to control their own data, but the question is, will they use this power. Every consumer will have to take up the responsibility to control their own data, keep platforms in check, and even to avoid problems. Usually if something goes wrong, consumers blame the company holding the data, and for the last five years this was true, but I think not for the coming five years. People need to wake up and need to be educated that they have responsibilities too to safeguard themselves.”

At the same time, governments also have a responsibility to facilitate change. In order to facilitate digital change, and help provide secure transactions, Nijland argued, “The government must not only work to create useful rules and regulations, but they should also invest in the digital infrastructure to keep things running. If they are willing to invest in railroads and motorways to keep businesses running, why don’t we also pay collectively for a safe digital infrastructure?

“The number of transactions is going to explode. Companies are underestimating the complexity of data handling and will need to work with others if they are to survive and thrive.”

Collaboration is key

Having illustrated the importance of collective efforts to safeguard data and transactions, Nijland returned to the matter of private enterprise. According to him, the amount of data faced by today’s businesses is already causing problems, and if they cannot handle the pressure now the future does not bode well. Despite this, Nijland says, many companies still believe they can do it all alone.

“The only way to get more grip on the situation is by looking at these problems in a different way,” he continues. “What is happening now is that organisations are working to optimise their own operations for the explosion of data and the related problems in its slipstream. But if you really want to prepare for the problems of tomorrow then you must collaborate beyond the borders of your own organisation, beyond the borders of your sector, maybe even the borders of your country.”

Highlighting the ideological shortcomings many businesses currently foster, the INNOPAY CEO pointed to the innovative shared-ledger technology of blockchain. “Companies often announce, we are going to do something with blockchain. That suggests they really don’t understand the flow of blockchain, because the only way to really leverage what you can do with blockchain is to work together, not alone, in a sector or value-chain.” Instead of working alone, businesses must understand that they have to look at new problems in different ways.

When asked what he thought the best outcome of INNOPAY’s publishing of ‘Everything Transaction’ could be, Nijland concluded; “I want this book to wake up organisations. They need to move away from this ‘winner-takes-all’ way of thinking popularised by American businesses over the last century. If it ever did work, it doesn’t work in the Netherlands anymore, and it doesn’t work in Europe. In Holland we have a domestic market of 20 million people, but if you are in a larger fragmented market – as we are in Europe – then we have to start working together more. If the book contributes to that than I will be very happy.” 

Related: INNOPAY CEO Shikko Nijland on the firm's growth and ambitions.