Belgian expat Arne Van Looveren has been all around the world, having lived in London, Malaysia and currently Jakarta for the past three years. The immigrant, who is the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of YDigital, has a flair for business and has worked in the digital space for most of his career. We sit down with Arne to find out his thoughts on the digital scene in Indonesia.
Arne, can you share with us how you got to living in Indonesia in the first place?
I was working in Malaysia for an internet startup incubator. This means a company that matches market opportunities with business models and builds teams and companies to execute these models. For me it was the perfect immersion in the world of internet startups. I moved to Indonesia to become the country manager for the incubator. But after seeing the market opportunities that the Internet was bringing to Indonesia and making the right connections, it was very natural for me to start my own business.
You could say I came for business, but I stayed for the Indonesian people! I have been working in the digital space for most of my career, and it’s making a difference for people with technology and innovation that really excites me.
How do you see Indonesia today compared to when you first came?
When I first came to Indonesia the industry balance definitely was geared towards energy and commodities, with loads of expats in gas and oil, etc. The Internet scene was almost non-existent and very immature.
That balance has now been put on its head, with the energy sector struggling and the technology ecosystem having matured tremendously.
Even from a global perspective, a lot of (important) eyes are looking at Indonesia as the next big thing. The recently announced market entry of Amazon with a budget of US$600 million is a prime example of that.
You currently work as the CCO of YDigital and are founding Yacademy, so what exactly led you to this position?
In my previous positions, I was handling business development and growth strategies. So when my partners and I founded www.ydigital.asia, it was obvious I would be in charge of growth. This means sales, marketing and strategic partnerships. However, as a startup founder in the first stages of development, a title is just something that is necessary to define clear reporting lines and responsibilities, but you end up being involved in everything.
When working with clients in YDigital, we noticed that the biggest challenge they have working in the digital space is the lack of knowledge about digital, or the inability to hire experienced people. Over 90 percent of companies worldwide lack digital skills, with the biggest skill gap being in APAC. That’s why we founded www.yacademy.asia to educate and train both individuals and executive teams in digital skills and knowledge. No more excuses to not grow your business online.
What do you enjoy the most about working in YDigital & Yacademy?
Defining and executing a kick-ass digital strategy. For example, we helped increase (offline) sales for one of the Mattel brands by 110 percent last year, purely by doing digital campaigns. Also in Yacademy, teaching young kids digital skills and finding them a job through our network is immensely rewarding
What kind of services does YDigital offer?
We do 360 integrated digital marketing strategies and campaigns, including digital transformation. What this means is we help companies build online assets like websites/apps and social media pages, and market them to a suited target audience in order to increase leads/sales or brand awareness. Everything is measurable online, so we provide detailed reports on the results, the Return On Investment and insights that companies can leverage offline as well.
How does YDigital maintain to keep its position among other digital performance consultancies?
In terms of consultancies, there are no competitors that I know of. We are the only one providing strategy consultancy. In terms of campaigns, we let the results speak for themselves. Most of our clients come through word of mouth. So it is our data-driven approach with very obvious results that gives an undeniable edge.
Because we measure and optimize on a daily basis, even if a campaign is not working, we can quickly feedback to our client and define an alternative strategy. For YDigital, experimenting with failure is not a problem, not acting quickly and learning from failure is.
Can we discuss the trends in the digital world that companies try to keep up with? And how does your consultancy come up with strategies to cater to this?
Excellent question! Especially in the digital space, things are evolving at a tremendous pace, so it is key that YDigital/Yacademy are ahead of the curve and can pass on new knowledge and skill to our clients and students. To cater for this, we have an active R&D department that tests new technologies, and we have weekly internal sharing sessions to keep a pulse on everything. For example, we are now rolling out a new product with Telkom that allows companies to leverage IoT (Internet of Things) technology, and use smart devices to measure consumer behaviour offline in malls, at events, etc. You will definitely see a lot more of this in the future.
In your opinion, how has the progress of the digital world been thus far in Indonesia? And how does this affect companies such as YDigital?
The digital adoption process has been amazing among Indonesian consumers and is still increasing at a staggering rate. The local business ecosystem has been a bit slower on the uptake, but you can see things shifting very clearly now. More and more investments are (wisely) made in the digital space, and some companies are already building dedicated teams to cope with the added complexity of online consumer behaviour. This progress is our reason of existence, and so far it is a well-educated prediction coming true.
Can you describe the working environment in YDigital?
We call it TRAMP (no pun intended): Trust, Respect, Accountability and Professionalism. But I would add that there is a lot of fun as well. If you would visit our office, you might need some earplugs because it can get quite loud, and not a day goes by without singing and laughing for a birthday celebration.
What kind of places do you like to visit outside of work?
My garden with a good book, a friend’s house, mountains to climb and waves to surf.
What is the best thing about Indonesia that you have only discovered recently?
I recently saw the local communities coming together for Independence Day on the 17th of August and was very impressed with the community building and organization. This is something we can learn from in Belgium.
Thank you Arne! For more information please visit http://ydigital.asia