Since its founding in 1991, Data B. Mailservice has developed into a major player in the world of physical and digital document flows. By thoughtfully anticipating new market developments and innovations, the company has built up a considerable lead. And then never let go of it. An interview with director Liana Willems-Klaster.
'I am not someone who has to mind the store,' says Liana Willems-Klaster firmly. 'My strength lies mainly in optimizing process management and innovation.' Since 2017, Liana has been managing director of Data B. Mailservice, a Leek-based company that helps clients produce, envelop and send both physical and digital document streams. Although Data B. Mailservice also works for SMEs, it is particularly active in the government market. For example, the company takes care of a large part of the voting passes, as well as all communication around tax returns, such as (WOZ) assessments, reminders and demands. 'Using software developed in-house, we can also add smart digital payment solutions, so that payments can be made quickly and easily,' Liana underlines the aim of providing the broadest possible service.
And indeed, if you deal with high-level document output on a daily basis, attention to process management and innovation is a prerequisite for survival. Or, as in the case of Data B. Mailservice, to continue to flourish. After all, digitization has a significant impact on the market in which the company operates. How has this been anticipated over the years? 'The transition from print to digital went very smoothly and smoothly,' says Liana. 'Because we started implementing digital processes at a very early stage, we never had to be behind the times. Our goal has always been to relieve clients of all their worries. Then, especially in the case of municipalities, pension funds and large insurers, it is important to make a timely digitization step. In 2001, for example, we already had a system that allowed us to digitally archive municipal documents. But we also developed an intermediary solution early on for MijnOverheid, a website that allows citizens to arrange their government affairs digitally. This means that municipalities do not have to connect independently, but can use our digital highway. That saves time, but more importantly, a lot of money. We then continued to develop further in the digital field and slowly built up a lead.
Keeping focus under all circumstances, Liana sees as the key to Data B. Mail Service's digital success. So first make sure you finish where you want to go and only then take the next step. 'We have always been very keen on that,' she stresses. 'As a result, we have never actually been tempted to deviate from our path. With some companies you sometimes see that they immediately jump on every new trend or innovation. Then you start shooting with hail and of course that doesn't work. We really said: we want to have fast printers and a fast envelope and make the output digital as quickly and thoughtfully as possible. Every minute we want to be able to see where a document is in the production hall. And above all, we want to be able to couvert securely, that is, without data leaks. We have been fully committed to this from the beginning. As a result, we now print everything in full color, at a very high speed. This allows us to deliver highly personalized documents with only information that applies to the person in question. In addition, we can also add a payment solution in MijnOverheid. We were the first to be able to offer that and we are still the only one.
Liana has been active for over 18 years in the company founded by her father Bé Klasters in 1991. Before that, she worked in finance and ran a company in mechanical engineering with her husband. 'I have always been very interested in financial matters, especially credit management,' she clarifies. 'Hence, I initially opted for a career in finance, including taking various in-house courses and studying post HBO Business Administration.' Her career took a new turn when she was approached in 2003 to set up a production department at Data B. Mailservice. Although she liked the financial sector, Liana decided to take the plunge and become Head of Production at the Leek-based company. In 2012, she also took charge of financial and technical affairs, eventually becoming general manager five years later after buying in in 2013.
The transition to the directorship was not very big, Liana points out. After all, she had already been in a managerial role for much longer within Data B. Mailservice, where NOM has been one of the shareholders since 2004. 'I always felt very responsible for the company,' she continues. 'Of course, now that I am ultimately responsible, things have changed quite a bit. For example, you have to make more and different decisions. I do notice that in Spain, where we have had a development company in Barcelona since the end of 2016, a director is viewed differently. Hierarchy is still very important in Spain. Why the development company in Barcelona? We saw that when we hired developers in Leek, they were quickly pulled into production in the frenzy of the day. By setting up a development company in Barcelona, we were able to keep production and development strictly separate. Moreover, it was often difficult to recruit good IT professionals in the Netherlands. Choosing Spain helped us tremendously. It ensured that we made great strides.'
Digitalization has obviously led to a decline in print volumes at Data B. Mailservice. But not nearly as sharply as many people think. Due to lower print runs of forms and letters, for example, many organizations decided to house their production in Leek. 'Because of corona, we even had to scale up again in terms of physical document flows,' says Liana. 'Partly because of the letters from the RIVM and other appeals, but also because more was being done on paper everywhere. Simply because in times of crisis people revert to the old familiar. Even in 2008, during the financial crisis, we saw an increase in paper. In addition, because of corona, employees of companies and organizations were forced to work from home. So office printers were hardly used anymore, if at all. For this reason, we were also asked by clients to take over their mail rooms. Hence, we have recently been processing numerous physical documents, such as incoming mail, here. We scan those and then make them digital.'
So things are going well for Data B. Mailservice. By responding specifically to market developments, the company has been able to maintain the lead it has built up and, where possible, even expand it further. What are the plans for the future? 'We will of course continue to innovate unabated in the digital field,' Liana answers decisively. 'Perhaps we will specialize even more, but I don't rule out scaling up through an acquisition either.'