The Van Looy Group (Antwerp, Belgium) designs and restores laboratories, logistic and data centers and offers consultancy. The company recently got off to a new start by privatizing from Imtech. A unique opportunity for Peter Dockx to reinvent the ICT-environment of the Group, to embrace modernity and to lead the company forward to further growth and success, based on a cloud and mobile first strategy. Peter studied a wide range of solutions and found an answer to all the challenges his mobile organisation faced in the latest Microsoft products and solutions. By implementing both Azure, Office 365 and Sharepoint he significantly reduced ICT costs, he simplified ICT-management and improved employer efficiency by realizing a user-friendly and seamless experience. Peter: “Safe and easy access to all our data and applications regardless the device and operating system, whether we’re at home, at the office, or on the road, online and offline!”
The Van Looy Group (Antwerp, Belgium) is active in the area of architecture, construction and installation technology. The company and its 50 experts specialize in consultancy and the design and renovation of logistic centers, laboratories, R&D and data centers. Always of a very high standard and tailored to the client’s wishes. Van Looy recently realized projects for Johnson & Johnson, Phillip Morris, The Dutch Cancer Institute and for famous Universities in the Netherlands and Belgium (Leiden, Leuven, Maastricht, Brussels…). Van Looy Group also helps with the tendering process and the project management for various projects.
Van Looy Group was established in 1979 as a logistic design company that expanded its services to the design of laboratories and R&D centers at the end of the last century on the basis of its expertise in the pharmaceutical industry. At Van Looy Group experts from various disciplines work together closely. The corporate culture is open.
As senior consultant laboratories designer Peter Dockx is responsible for the laboratory market of Van Looy Group. Peter has made several technical concepts for laboratories for pharmaceutical plants, research facilities, quality control, health sector… To enforce Van Looy Group’s ambition, Peter is actively involved in EGNATON (European Association for Sustainable Laboratories). He is chairman of the “Lab Energy” work group and member of the technical committee. During the last decennia Peter Dockx had the opportunity to gather experience and expertise in the design and construction of animal facilities.
Peter is an engineer. Although he has no degree in ICT, he is passionate about the possibilities of modern ICT. At home as well as at Van Looy Group he is an advocate of cloud based, mobile and user-friendly ICT.
The Rebirth of the Van Looy Group: Tradition Embraces Modernity
Even though until 2014 the shares of the Van Looy Group were held by technical solutions provider Imtech, Van Looy functioned quite independent. So when Van Looy decided to go her own way again at the end of that year, there was little impact on the daily operation. Except for ICT. In the past, ICT-matters were decided at Imtech in the Netherlands. The privatization of the Group therefor was a great challenge, but also an equally great opportunity for Peter Dockx, in charge with ICT at Van Looy Group. Supported by his management he reinvented the ICT environment, built it up from scratch. Peter: “With a lot of experience and clear expectations, I could investigate the broad spectrum of existing solutions, choose the solutions that matched our challenges best ánd deploy them. A unique opportunity where many can only dream of!”
The difference between the old and the new environment couldn’t have been greater. Peter is a happy man. His management went along with his ambition to introduce ‘The New World of Work’ within the Van Looy Group. Today ‘Cloud and Mobile First’ is the motto of the Group. Supported by VanRoey.be who lives and breathes these modern Microsoft solutions, promotes them and – if necessary – adapts them to the needs of the group.
Our challenges? 80% of our employees work on the move, with flexible hours and on various devices. Today our ICT environment is adapted to these challenges and gives us a huge headstart.Peter Dockx, Van Looy Group
The challenges Van Looy Group faced
Imagine you could rethink your ICT-environment from scratch...
1. “People are our most valuable asset. To sustain our growth and to retain our people, we need to offer them a modern working environment!”
Peter Dockx: “Our society and our perception of ‘work’ has strongly changed over the years. I believe many managers find it difficult to adjust to these changes, but those who do enjoy the exceptional benefits: co-workers who enjoy and promote their job, who are self-confident and achieve their goals. At the Van Looy Group, people are our most valuable asset. To attract them and to keep them on board, we need to offer workable goals and a modern working environment! As an employer, you have to be aware of the growing importance of the balance between the professional and personal life, especially for young people. You must give your employees as much freedom as possible in realizing their goals and ambitions. Modern tools and ‘Bring Your Own Device’ play an important role. Trust is crucial. If the results are met, it doesn’t matter where or when they were realized? Can you be certain that your employees were productive sitting behind their computer all day? We trust our co-workers and get very involved staff in return.“
2. “We are a mobile company, we have to be able to do business anywhere.”
Peter Dockx: “The Van Looy Group is an exceptionally mobile organization. 40 of our 50 employees work with customers or suppliers all day. On site. They are at the office on Monday mornings, but then they wander off.
My objectives at the start were quite clear:
- Save our data in only one location;
- We need to get our work done, whenever, wherever we need to be, whether in the office, at home, or on the road, and regardless of our favorite device, wether it is Windows, Mac or Android, online and offline … Working at Van Looy must be a ‘seamless’ experience;
- Communication and exchange of information must be very smooth and fast, always based on the latest version of data and documents.”
3. “Our data and business needs to be safe and protected, even when an unexpected event occurs.”
Peter Dockx: “The Van Looy Group is focused on keeping our data protected and preparing for unexpected events, especially with the increased use of mobile devices and the challenge of backing up growing amounts of data. We were looking for a solution that enabled adding new applications or file storage as needed without having to purchase and manage servers. Our customers trust us to protect their data.”
We want co-workers to love their job, to feel good and achieve their goals. The Microsoft solutions implemented by VanRoey.be give us a headstart!Peter Dockx, Van Looy Group
“Michael Beal, CEO of Microsoft Belux, convinced us to consider the most recent Microsoft technologies! I found an answer to all my challenges.”
Peter Dockx, Van Looy Group
1. Office 365: seamless and endless possibilities
A corporate environment without applications such as Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint was unthinkable for Peter. But at the same time he had a big concern: “What with our Mac and Android users? I have been a IPad user myself for several years now. At an event of VanRoey.be I listened to Michael Beal, the new CEO of Microsoft Belgium. He talked about the intent of Microsoft to become an open platform. This triggered me. I always test all applications before implementing them. I must say I was impressed with the efforts of Microsoft over these last months. Office 365 is now a seamless experience we can enjoy across any device, phones, tablets, and PCs of operating systems, Windows, IOS or Android. Whether we’re at home, at the office, or on the road, we can access all your applications and data with a consistent experience across hardware form factors. We can access and edit our latest files wherever we go and whether we are online or offline. And Office 365 also includes built-in, always up-to-date spam and virus protection for your email. We decided to go all the way and chose for Office 365 E3. Quite worry-free!”
I'm a convinced IPad user for several years now, but I'm really impressed by Microsoft's decision to turn Office into an open platform. We can now smoothly use Office on PC/MAC, on Windows off course, but also on IOS and Android devices.Peter Dockx, Van Looy Group
We have gotten to know many of the features of Office 365 over the last months. More and more colleagues are becoming fan of Skype For Business. We are using it to communicate with each other. Skype For Business enables us to indicate to each other wether you are available for questions. We can consult our colleagues and easily access the right expertise, without actually having to be face to face, and even without people you are meeting with having to know you are in connection with a colleague. This allows us to work much more efficiently. Skype For Business also enables online meetings and seminars. OneNote is the next feature of Office 365 we are looking forward to start using.
2. From Fileserver to Sharepoint Online
Before the integration of Office 365, we used a fileserver to save our data. But for a mobile company like ours, this was out of date. Often the companies we visit do not have Wi-Fi, or it is difficult to access or unstable. We already used OneDrive or Dropbox which guarantees backups of your data. Sharepoint proved to be the best solution for the Van Looy Group. It has the additional advantage that the documents are continuously available, even for offline viewing. Offline synchronization was crucial for us. We tested several systems, but SharePoint was the best. People can consult the documents offline, even work on them and when they arrive at the office or at home, they are automatically synchronized. As a result, we have achieved our goal to save our documents in just one place!
But that is not the only reason why Peter chose Sharepoint. People at Van Looy are overjoyed that they no longer need to sign up through the complex and slow VPN. If the procedure is to complex, people will start working locally on their own device again. The uniformity, simplicity and user friendliness of Sharepoint and the other Microsoft solutions have convinced us all. In addition, Sharepoint is also integrated with other Microsoft applications such as OneNote. We will focus on that in the next few months.
3. We prefer the Azure-cloud over on premise
While others seem to be reluctant to move to the cloud, we’ve chosen to ban physical servers and trust all our data to the cloud. Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud application platform, convinced us. Azure offers a 99.95% availability SLA, 24×7 tech support, and round-the-clock service health monitoring. Azure runs on a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters across the world. They make sure we always get great performance. Are you sure your data are safer in your own data center? Or are you afraid the NSA is reading your documents? (laughs) We are confident that our data are more secure than in our own data center. What if you have a disaster on your site? Microsoft was one of the first to obtain ISO security certification. Furthermore, Azure can quickly scale up or down to match our demand, so we only pay for what we use.
With Microsoft and Azure, we can leverage built-in protection at every level of our technology platform, from the server to PCs and mobile devices, with peace of mind that everything works together and that we are able to easily control who has access to our data and applications.
“Medium Sized Companies like us no longer need a dedicated ICT -manager. We can rely on Microsoft solutions and the support and advice of VanRoey.be”
Peter Dockx, Van Looy Group
Peter Dockx: “Thanks to the Microsoft solutions Office 365, SharePoint and Azure and thanks to the support and advice by VanRoey.be we will realize a huge lowering of ICT costs and complexity. We won’t need to invest in a dedicated ICT-manager. We reduced our costs by consolidating multiple product investments, by avoiding development, infrastructure and support costs. We drastically improved our employee productivity, by implementing collaboration workspaces and business process, workflow and forms and we enhanced the effectiveness of customer service and our engineering and sales teams, by aggregating critical information from across the enterprise and by providing rapid and easy access to information.”
“VanRoey.be is an advocate of Microsoft solutions. The expertise of the staff is exceptional. VanRoey.be is Microsoft Gold Partner and attained the Gold Cloud Solutions Compentency for Small and Midmarket. We can rely on them to be ahead of the game and to inform us about important new evolutions that will determine our future success. VanRoey.be is a trusted, valued and award winning partner for organisations throughout Belgium. VanRoey.be is a valuable strategic ICT-partner for the Van Looy Group and offers ICT-solutions that enable us to be reliable and successful: agile, fast, mobile and safe!”
VanRoey.be is a valuable strategic ICT-partner for the Van Looy Group. VanRoey.be offers ICT-solutions that enable us to be reliable and successful: agile, fast, mobile and safe!Peter Dockx, Van Looy Group