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Best Practices

Empowering Independence: Reducing Life-Long Dependency on Externals

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Published: Reading time: 3 min
Stijn-Pieter van Houten SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9
Stijn-Pieter van HoutenSVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9
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Modern organizations are increasingly looking to technology in an effort to streamline operations, enhance efficiency, and drive innovation. A common concern that arises during this digital transformation journey is the potential for life-long dependency on external vendors and consultants. This blog explores some key strategies for empowering independence and reducing reliance on external resources, focusing on the rollout and support phase of implementing new technologies, particularly in the context of a Center of Excellence (CoE).

Understanding the issue

Concerns about the perpetual dependency on external parties for support and maintenance of digital solutions are, of course, valid. Organizations seek to mitigate costs, develop internal capabilities, and ensure sustainable, long-term adoption of new technologies. The goal is to build a self-sufficient system that not only addresses current needs but is also adaptable to future challenges and opportunities. A CoE serves as the cornerstone for achieving independence in the digital transformation journey. It embodies the organization's collective expertise in leveraging new technologies, ensuring best practices, and fostering continuous learning and improvement. The creation of a CoE is akin to developing muscle memory within an organization - a process where, over time, the reliance on external support decreases as internal capabilities strengthen.

Driving long-term adoption through a unified platform

A pivotal strategy for reducing dependency on externals is the adoption of a unified platform that serves as the foundation for all digital initiatives. This approach was effectively implemented by AB InBev, as shared by Michael Kress. By consolidating various functions and services into a single platform, AB InBev minimized the complexity associated with managing multiple solutions. This consolidation made it significantly easier to establish CoEs focused on training personnel, measuring adoption, and ensuring the platform's effective use across the organization.

The principle behind this strategy is straightforward yet powerful: a unified platform facilitates easier management, training, and adoption tracking. It enables organizations to focus their efforts on building internal competencies and ensuring that the CoE becomes the driving force for continuous improvement and innovation.

Building muscle memory for the organization

Drawing from o9's analogy, the development of a CoE during the implementation phase and its ongoing support role can be viewed as building muscle memory for the organization. Just as muscles become stronger and more efficient with consistent exercise, an organization's ability to leverage new technologies improves as the CoE evolves. This internal capability development allows the organization to adapt more readily to changing market conditions and business needs, reducing the need for external intervention.


The journey towards reducing life-long dependency on externals requires a strategic approach centered on the development of a robust CoE. By fostering internal expertise and adopting a unified platform, organizations can empower themselves to manage and optimize digital solutions independently. This empowerment not only enhances operational efficiency and innovation but also positions the organization for sustainable growth and adaptability in the face of future challenges. Through this approach, organizations can achieve true independence, turning the concern of life-long external dependency into a stepping stone for building a resilient and self-sufficient future.

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About the author

Stijn-Pieter van Houten SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9

Stijn-Pieter van Houten

SVP of Consumer Products and Knowledge Innovation Lead, o9

With over 20 years of experience in supply chain management, strategy, and operations, Dr. Stijn-Pieter (SP) is a global leader and innovator in the field of next-generation planning solutions for the manufacturing industry. He holds a PhD in computer simulation and mathematical models from Delft University of Technology and has completed executive education programs at Berkeley, Stanford, and Cranfield.


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