Digital transformation: Data Platform Strategy

Portbase was founded in 2009 with the aim of creating value for the Dutch Port Community. Portbase helps the community and its members to develop the smartest port system in Europe by sharing data and offering process services. Portbase is a not-for-profit organization, for and by the Haven Community, with 5,000 customers and more than 20,000 users.

At the beginning of 2019, Portbase developed its data strategy to create additional value for the community, in addition to process services, by making data securely shareable. To reinforce the strategy, a team has been set up with the aim of designing and developing a data platform. The data platform is designed to receive, transform (standardize, enrich, etc.) data and distribute it to customers.

Despite the solid strategy and the state-of-the-art platform, the impact (propositions, number of customers, turnover) is below expectations. This is due to:

  • The lack of a clear translation of the strategy into one or more concrete propositions
  • Lack of focus, structure and proper prioritization
  • A different picture between business and development in terms of objectives

Portbase has adopted the agile DevOps method. The teams work with a rhythm of 2-weekly sprints. To this rhythm we have added rituals such as portfolio consultation and refinements. These rituals are implemented based on the agile KanBan method. In this way we have brought structure and focus to the teams and given key stakeholders a role and insight in the prioritization of new ideas and initiatives.

Van techniek naar denken vanuit de klant
The step has been taken to start thinking and working from the customer’s perspective. Although there is a good structure for interaction with customers by project groups and customer panels, various developments have started on the basis of our own assumptions. We have added a number of instruments to this method. Using service design, service blueprints and service scenarios, we have been able to work – along the axis of the customer journey – based on customer validation.

At the start of the assignment, the team consisted solely of software development-related roles (PO, scrum, master, data engineers, data scientist). We supplemented the team with marketing roles to get a grip on proposition development, positioning and go-to-market activities.

A new working method has arrived at Portbase to be able to assess, refine and develop initiatives in line with the rhythm and cadence of the organisation. An awareness has arisen that commercial capabilities such as proposition development and marketing must be further developed. For example, the positioning of data in the Portbase range has been elaborated, propositions have been developed and the go-to-market has been set up. We are proud that we have realized the following initiatives together with the Portbase team:

  • CargoTracker a track & trace solution for containers has been developed and delivered. Along the way, the solution has been brought together with an initiative of the Port of Rotterdam Authority (Port of Rotterdam Authority) and it has been integrated into the new CargoController proposition in the Portbase Cargo domain. Topics: Proposition Design, Development, Pricing, Go-to-market.
  • Custom services a number of customized services have been delivered aimed at improving the logistics processes in the port. Topics: Portfolio management, pricing
  • DefLog the first public-private data sharing infrastructure for the logistics sector has been designed and started up. Topics: Project start-up, business case, service blueprint
  • Positionering elaboration of the positioning of data within and outside Portbase. Topics: Brand, Positioning