A New Year. A New Futurelab. A New Me?

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My life seems to evolve in lustra. 25 years ago, I met the girl who’d become my lovely wife. 20 years ago I discovered my love for storytelling. 15 years ago I left traditional corporate life. 10 years ago Futurelab was born. 5 years ago, the company decided to focus 100% on customer-centricity. And today, it’s time for a next chapter.

2015 is the year in which Futurelab grows up to declare its ambition of wanting to become Europe’s premier service provider in the field of customer-centricity.
Companies across Europe increasingly realise that a customer-centric approach is a great path to sustainable growth and profits. We want to be there to make it happen. Not with academic concepts or complex process maps, yet with pragmatic “roll-up-your-sleeves” services, tools and advice.

I realise this is a bold claim and, especially for a modest Belgian, slightly scary to make out loud. But it is not made idly. Over 2014, we’ve quietly been building the foundations for a new Futurelab which will gradually be unveiled in the coming year. This will feature:

1. A significantly larger team: For most of its life, Futurelab has been a two-man-band consisting of my business partner Stefan Kolle and myself, surrounded by freelance associates who helped us out as the need arose. Going forward, we’ll be a team of 8 full-time partners who will be supported by additional staff as the business grows.

2. A stronger capital base: Growth requires talent, but also money. With the new partners coming on board, the entry of financial investors and a new capital structure, Futurelab will gain the capability to launch new services, take on more and bigger projects simultaneously and grow with the market.

3. An expanded service offer: Yesterday, we only focused on highly bespoke consultancy services. Yet in the past 6 months, we’ve been investing heavily in the softwares, processes and people to deliver much more. To become truly full-service, we’re introducing end-to-end Net Promoter services across Europe. In Germany, we’ll debut a suite of retail programmes. In Spain and Lithuania, we’re testing Customer Centricity Scans. In the Benelux, we’re toying with customer-centric privacy management. And that’s just the start.

4. An extended geographic scope: The previous paragraph already gave it away. We’re moving beyond our Belgium-centric setup. In addition to moving to larger premises, in Q1-2015 we will be opening our Frankfurt subsidiary. Also, by cooperating with individual associates and local consultancies, we aim to dot the European map to allow servicing more customers in more local languages and on an ever more operational level.

5. A new managing partner: Finally, I’ll be replaced by Norbert Verkimpe who is the new Managing Partner of the company. Norbert brings to Futurelab a track record of successfully managing high growth situations in service companies and a wealth of expertise in the area of customer-centric data and information management.

So where does that leave me? Well, I won’t be disappearing, that’s for sure. But within Futurelab, I will significantly be reducing my working hours. In addition to still servicing a few customers, my focus will gradually shift to business development, speaking and new content development. The team even gave me the shiny new title of Chief Storyteller so that should sum it up nicely 🙂

For the rest, I finally should get round to a few private projects which have been shelved for too long. Oh yes, and see the Northern Lights 🙂

To conclude, just so it’s been said. In the past year we’ve been a bit hesitant to take on new customers as we wouldn’t have been able to service them. In fact, we didn’t do any prospecting at all. But from today, Futurelab is more than ready to lend a helping hand again. So if you have a customer challenge you’d like to address, give us a ring. We’ll help you make it happen, profitably.

Happy New Year!