Digitisation is an engine for innovation and growth. Family firm Imbema understands this all too well. The company started out as a technical wholesaler, but these days it is more of a specialist service provider. Its goal is safety and protection for people, resources and the environment. Although Imbema’s activities still involve assets that can be incorporated into all different forms of infrastructure, more and more of those assets incorporate communication technology. Koos Verkleij, Director Business Development & Solutions at Imbema, explains: “We install technology like telematics and certain types of sensors into more and more of the products we sell. We offer clients the choice between presenting the data in a portal or database and an API to route that information to their own dashboards. As a result, we are increasingly able to help our clients make efficient use of their complete infrastructure, wherever our assets are embedded.”
Working out which solution was right for Imbema so that they could provide the best possible service to their customers required some careful thought. In recent years, various departments within Imbema had launched initiatives to convert data from assets into a comprehensible form on a dashboard or in a portal. Koos: “By leaving those initiatives to operate independently of one another, we were able to learn a lot about what worked well and what didn’t.”
In all cases, Imbema acted as the intermediary between the client and the platform builder. This also meant that Imbema had to feed back all required changes to the platform. They concluded that they wanted to do part of the development themselves and only outsource what they weren’t good at. “Because we have the relationship with the client, we are able to effectively translate their requirements to a product or solution. Plus we know how the product or solution needs to work generically for all the market segments we operate in.” With its ekco platform, Hyrde proved to be the partner that could help Imbema take its role as a specialist service provider to the next level.
Ekco builder is a no-code IoT-platform that allows companies to set up SaaS solutions themselves without the need for knowledge and experience of programming. Imbema is very pleased that it now has a kind of construction kit at its disposal, meaning it is not completely dependent on third parties: “The modular character of ekco builder is what sets the platform apart. After some brief training in the use of the no-code layer at Hyrde, a number of our people are now able to configure solutions themselves. Before, every time we came up with a solution or the client asked us for one, we had to get it programmed or technically designed from scratch. That was very time-consuming. Ekco has significantly improved our “ability to execute”. Moreover, we are moving towards a generic platform in which we are much better able to learn from each other – allowing us to go to market ever more efficiently and effectively.”
In order to prepare the ekco builder for Imbema, Hyrde employed the agile working method, a method Imbema was familiar with. What came as a pleasant surprise was that Hyrde provided a graphic representation of the application at an early stage. This was not something they had experienced before. During the various sprints, each lasting a week, Hyrde added a number of functionalities to the platform. Koos: “We wanted to be able to scan NFC technology. On top of that, the platform had to be protocol-agnostic and facilitate simple API connections. Hyrde fixed that for us.”
Ekco has significantly improved our “ability to execute”.
In a short space of time, Imbema set up a use case with ekco builder in partnership with Hyrde. It related to underground tanks at a filling station belonging to a client. Imbema protects these tanks against corrosion by means of a system that applies a voltage to them. Having set up a test installation, Imbema was able – with the help of ekco builder – to visualise the condition of those assets in a dashboard after two days. They hadn’t been able to achieve that so quickly before. Activating the monitoring more quickly also means Imbema is in a position, at a much earlier stage, to tell clients: “Look, we have installed this at one of your locations and it allows us to monitor whether your assets are still adequately protected. If not, we immediately receive an alert.” Koos: “As a result, we are moving towards providing an insurance that their assets are protected – rather than simply supplying a product and coming back now and then to check it.”
The relationship between Imbema and Hyrde is a true partnership, as is reflected in the way the solution is presented to Imbema’s clients: the solution was developed and set up by Imbema and enabled by Hyrde’s platform. The partnership has also been extended to the charging model. “For every client and every licence we sell, a proportion goes to Hyrde. That makes the partnership attractive to both parties.” And the partnership is set to yield plenty of work in the coming years, because as Koos says: “Ultimately, we need to get all the assets in ekco.”