HR Vision Podcast #01 – Genesis Part 1 ft. Peter Wolbeek

By FourVision
Jun 8 • 1 min read
HR Vision Podcast Episode 1 ft. Peter Wolbeek

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In this first episode, one of FourVision’s founders, Peter Wolbeek talks about HR as an area of expertise, the creation of FourVision, the connection with Microsoft and shares its vision for the future.

Ivo:
Hey everyone, and welcome to the HR Vision podcast.
I’m Ivo, your host and every week I’m going to have a conversation that matters about HR.
In this first episode I have Peter Wolbeek with me, so welcome Peter.

Peter:
Hi, welcome, thank you for having me on your podcast.

Ivo:
You’re welcome, well it’s our podcast actually because Peter is the CEO and co-owner of FourVison, the company that features this podcast and where I personally work as a content manager. So full disclosure here.
We’re gonna talk a bit about HR of course, FourVision itself and why the HR technology specifically; why all that. But first for starters, let’s have a bit about yourself Peter and please give us a small introduction about you and your professional background.

Peter:
Alright, I’m Peter Wolbeek and actually I started out with a technical background. So in my technical education I started early, being involved in Microsoft products, followed a lot of Microsoft training back that back in the early years I must say. Had some Microsoft certifications and well, when I did a lot with this technology, I thought “well that's more maybe then only ones and zeros” and I want to have something in-between. So I would start looking at human beings and being more involved with managing employees. Then I moved to the project management and from project management for big international projects and then, well, the adventure at FourVision started as well.
I’ve always been interested in in in repeatable solution, so solution that we could make and then use again or in the early days when I did desktop replacements I always looked at how can I automate this and make it repeatable solution. And also the thing that I'm always interested in is the connection between a human being and the technology. So how can technology work for employees? So how can technology really help the human being do his work better.

Ivo:
So it’s more the usability of it, not only like the tool as a tool. It looks nice and everything, but the usability of the tool is really important for you?

Peter:
Yeah, actually in the early days I even did some development. Was not really my thing, because I had to sit behind a computer all day while not having any human interaction. But well, nothing to say against people that that like that. But yeah it was always fun to go out and go to the customer. So the part of getting the requirements from the customer an and the other way around; bring to the customer what I had built in in an application that was always the nice part. So the in-between development was not my thing, so that's why the human interaction and the connection between the two worlds is what I like.

Ivo:
Interesting, was this human connection that brought you over to the HR area. As you know it's the area of expertise HR technology. Or, you know it was a mix of both things. It was chance. What do you think happened for you to focus on HR?

Peter:
Well, I didn't pick it, it picked me. Or at least it happened to me, I must say. But yeah, I think it's very much in line with what I like in being the connection between technology and the human being. So, when I started with human resources it was especially interesting because it was involving people, an people, behavior and people's education skills and and how people did in an organization with the with the right mix with technology as well to to support it. So yeah, it was really in line with what I like to do so. But I did not really choose for it. It more happened with me. An I rolled into it. I got involved in human resource and at firstI thought it was too limited because it's only human resources and not all the other things because at that point I did a lot of international projects and multidisciplinary projects with a lot of other applications. So I thought, well maybe to limited, but. From that point, I think it's very wide and still I am exploring everyday new things in the human resources too.

Ivo:
Interesting. So I would like to talk a bit about the Microsoft connection. Of course we work, FourVision works mostly with with Microsoft products. You chose that path to be connected to Microsoft because of the the company itself. You were already used to work with their products. You think there's more extensibility, let's say in their tools to actually extend functionalities. Create something that actually works well with it. It happened by chance. What was the...

Peter:
Once again, I think it's a very logical continuation of my of my work because I already started in Microsoft, did everything with Microsoft. So I rolled into human resources and of course then it was human resources based on the Microsoft as well. What I think is great from Microsoft and doing this within the Microsoft ecosystem is that there's a whole Microsoft platform and actually in whole companies and more and more companies now around the world, they are using Microsoft products. So that means they already have the platform from Microsoft, or it starts out of course with the desktop; having Windows on your on your laptop and then extending that to your to your network, and nowadays you see clouds using Azure platform. So in line with that it's great to also have then your HR system from the Microsoft platform. Microsoft offers so many of tools, platforms, things we can connect and things we can work to get away and interface with from from human resources. So it's wide, big toolbox to choose from; to explore.

Ivo:
Yeah, it makes it makes the whole sense.
So take us back to the creation of our vision. We we know that you in Bert found it, but how did it came to be? How did it start?

Peter:
Well, I was already from projects slowly moving into HR, so I was very much involved in HR and HR projects at that point. So I already met Bert from from that. At that time, Bert was doing a HR solution from a UK vendor. Well that UK vendor decided to not move on with implementations via partners, but do it themselves. So that meant that initiative would end more or less and from that point we were both already very interested in the Microsoft platform in HR on the Microsoft platform. So we were already working together in several projects. So when Bert was looking for a new initiative to do something with Microsoft, he approached me an well from that part we started FourVision as well. And only focused on a HR and completely HR on the Microsoft platform.

Ivo:
Interesting so at that stage, I believe it was a AX right? The the platform that Microsoft had with the with an HR module in it, right?

Peter:
It was even Axapta, I think, and I always have the problem because, being so long in the Microsoft EP Ecosystem, the name I think changed five times or so and I always have problems to keep up with the name because I was always well behind refering to the product as Axapta and then came AX2012 and then it became well, Human Resources and then HCM an HRM. And yeah all kinds of names but actually still the same product or still the same foundation.

Ivo:
So at that time. You were only doing implementation of that of that software I guess. When when did it start? Like the expansion right? The the web apps, to extending functionalities within within the tool? How did that process process came by?

Peter:
Fairly early on already because we took to standard product from Microsoft. And actually I was very early involved already with the human resource module, when Microsoft bought it from a Danish partner. And to put it in their ERP system and from that part, well it was a great system. But it was wide but it was not containing all the functionality and especially when we started in the Netherlands, in doing projects, what we saw was that the product was not complete enough, so we started to extending the product for small things. First very 'Dutch things' that that make it work for Dutch companies. But then we realized well the things we are doing are interesting internationally as well. So we moved to the US. We presented it there and it was already the module with the things we did extra and developed. It was internationally also interesting for companies that work with the HR module. So I think early on we realized already: It's a great module and it has the capability or to extend it. So yeah let's let's add it and let's add that specific functionality we need for customers.

Ivo:
Very good. Yeah, the next step is about the company now, right? How how is it going now? What are you most proud of? You know from for all these years, I know that you guys like to focus on what's ahead and not look at the past. But the yeah, let's let's do that exercise.

Peter:
Well, Microsoft changed a lot in in their product and the way they work, and the way they work with with partners as well. So in in all the 11-12 years we were now doing this completely with Microsoft Platform. We each time had to adopt and adapt new technology and new changes in that, and I think also that's where I'm at least the most proud of that. We won't call it survive, but I call it adapting and changing our technology and doing different things. And each time we doing new things following Microsoft an and making a change to the company or almost reinventing ourselves sometimes.

Ivo:
Do you feel that HR is more? It's that you feel that there are more companies now looking for a HR modules for a way to automate and get better functionality within their HR departments. Then you felt 12 years ago or 11 years ago when when everything started.

Peter:
Yeah, I think that changed over years as well. Well, maybe it's good to see that the name change of human resources to see a human as a resource and the name was changed to Human Capital Management in, really pointing out that the humans in the company and your personnel is really your capital. So it's really the backbone of your your company and I think over the years that we now do this, we saw that change as well in more the employee putting in the center of the company and the knowledge of an employee is very important in it as well. So all kinds of tools for human resources. You need those tools to develop your your employees to attract your employees, and then within your company develop them and give them the right skills and being able to pick the right skills for your employees as well.

What I also saw was the shift from doing everything in HR department so more the HR module as an administrative tool in shifting there to let the manager do some things. So take over some tasks from the HR department to the managers. And now also taking over parts of that to the employee. So now the employee is going to these system themselves and keying in what they want. So make a request for a change or to have something and then it goes to the manager and then it routes through the organization.

I think the new trend is, not only HR departments but also managers and employees are to be involved in the HR process, and giving them the right tools to do that as well.

Ivo:
Interesting, very good. Well, I guess you're not retiring anytime soon. You're very young. We can see that you can see that. So what are the plans for the future for FourVision, where do you see the HR technology going as well? Let's talk a bit about that.

Peter:
I think well, just moving forward like like we do now and we see a big change in our company as well. In first having smaller companies and now moving to two larger international companies. But also in new places in the world. So we are exploring all parts of the world at the moment. We have projects in in South Africa but also in Australia and New Zealand. And in that area of the world, and companies are becoming, well, the customers are becoming bigger and have more need of professional professional tools. So we are developing and making our tools more professional and more robust, and we're getting bigger companies as well, so that will increase.

We actually have two parts of our companies, so we have SI - system integrator, where we set up and do projects, implement the HR module. The standard HR module, but also our own modules. And we also have a part as an ISV - Independent Software Vendor, where we sell our product to ourselves and we implement it. But we also like to develop more to develop the partner platform to enable partners to use our products for their customers. So that's that's actually so. The direction that we are that we are moving on as well, so more international, more more places in the world, bigger companies, bigger customers, but also building out our partner network.

Ivo:
And more solutions as well. That's that's a lot of things going. In terms of HR technology. Do you see, for example, more AI coming into place there? There is anything. Right now that you see like it's going to be a big trend in HR, or for now the need is to actually automate streamline a bit better. The process is, and there's still a lot of work to be done in that area.

Peter:
There's still a lot to happen I think with AI and with chatbots and all kinds of things in that area as well, and that's what you see as well from the technology and Microsoft being still a fairly technology driven. A company they invent something like AI, they provide tools for doing AI and then they ask partners to look for a purpose for that as well. And I think in AI initially in HR we will see more and more AI driven different things to make conclusions based on an employee how and employees developing in a company to track that. And use that data to make predictions on how many extra employees you need or what kind of skills you have to develop within your company. We are definitely one of those companies that is also fairly much looking around and see how we can use that new technology as well in the in the HR space.

Ivo:
Yeah, I think like for workforce planning, I see a lot of a lot of potential in there. Like you know, just just to know exactly where to put employees and when, do we know you have them ready to take the next step or something like that I think.

Peter:
Exactly yeah. Workforce planning, succession planning, that that becomes a very important part for companies. If companies are growing they need more resources and making really that prediction of how many resources and how many employees do I need next year; What kind of skills do they need; and thus that matches up with with my projects that I have and the needs that I have right now. Yeah, these are definitely processes where AI can can support that the HR staff to do that.

Ivo:
Yeah, slowly. Alright this this is great. That's all about the questions that I had for you. Is there any final notes that you'd like to to mention to say? Anything?

Peter:
No, not really. I enjoyed this very much and I will of course, and I'm still what you say, I'm still looking forward to the future. I am excited and learn every day, so I really like to continue into doing that.

Ivo:
So that's a good stance to have. OK Peter, thank you so much for for your time and I'll see you soon.

Peter:
Alright Ivo, thank you. Bye!


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