Marc Lammers - “Digitalisation took us from good to gold”
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“Digitalisation took us from good to gold”

Marc Lammers caused a furore in hockey, as coach of the Dutch women's hockey team (silver and gold at the Olympics) and later of the Belgian Red Lions (silver at the European Championships). He was a guest at Graydon's EU Open Fraud event. Based on his experience and with numerous anecdotes, he made an infectious comparison between digitisation and fair play in top sport and the business world.

In sport, we want it to be fair, according to the rules of the game. We are, therefore, constantly looking for the best means to guarantee that honesty. Doping inspectors succeed in detecting more products every year thanks to improved methods. Hawk-Eye technology has been established in tennis for many years. After much opposition, goal-line technology and VAR later made their appearance in football.

“It will be more fun and fairer”, said Michel Everaert, director of top sport of the Dutch volleyball association, when Hawk-Eye was also introduced in his sport in 2016.

Focus on processes

The use of modern technologies promotes the fairness of the game and is, in the meantime, also indispensable to distinguish yourself from the opponent. Not only in sports, but also in the business world, a company must use technology to identify cheaters, such as defaulters and fraudsters, early on, but also, to detect opportunities and outperform the competition.

“We trained ten times a week with the Red Lions,” says Marc Lammers. "Every day. In the morning and in the afternoon. And why? Because the competition does too. You should at least do the same. You also have to find ways to distinguish yourself.”

“The great thing is that Belgium is very good at using data. Much more than other countries. That is why Belgium, where only 40,000 men have been playing hockey for four years, has been number one in the world, while the Netherlands is only fourth or fifth with 280,000 players.”

Innovation and data make the difference

The curious and inquisitive Marc Lammers, therefore, tried to make a difference based on data and innovation.

“The field, the weather, the referee, ... These are all elements that determine the end result, but over which you have no influence. That is why I focus on processes and not on the end result. Because I do have influence on the process. By being innovative, you can stay ahead of the opponent. Just like you can also stay ahead of that defaulter or that fraud.”

“About 20 years ago, hockey was the first to introduce three-dimensional video glasses. With those video glasses, you quickly get a 3D repetition of penalty corners during the match. This way, I could immediately see how the opponent was moving and where the space was to score the next penalty corner. Our score percentage went from 22 to 38%.”

“We have been playing hockey for 18 years with a GPS on our backs. In this way, we found out that sprints are a maximum of 15 meters and not 30 meters, which we trained on until then. We have therefore adapted our training sessions and have become much faster than our opponents.”

“We also analysed the heartbeats of the players during the match. We determined that player X had gone above maximum heart rate 3 times and was injured. Within a week I had an iPad with my players' numbers and all colours. I don't understand anything about digitisation, but I do know what green, orange and red mean and I didn't need to know more. When a player reached his maximum heart rate, a red light came on and that was the signal to remove them from the field. Moments later, when their heart rate dropped again, a green light came on and they were allowed to start again. Thanks to that dashboard, we had 30% fewer injuries right away.”

Measuring is knowing

“It comes down to measuring what you are doing. Measuring is knowing. Where can you still improve a few percentages? 2% faster insight, 2% more profit, you name it. And 2% doesn't seem like much, but 50 times 2% is also 100%. Your internal processes can undoubtedly also be improved by a few percent in an innovative way.”

In top sport, they call it all statistics. At Graydon, we call this data.

“Statistics and data measure the process. The scoreboard measures the result, but, by then, it is already too late. There's nothing you can do about that. So, it is important to follow the data. It gives me insights. It gives me an orange light on my dashboard more quickly when something goes wrong. Then I can immediately intervene in the process and that is what matters. Speed."

External expertise

“And yes, you may need to bring in expertise. I didn't do it all by myself either. I had a team of experts and data analysts who ran it all for me. Without measuring, I cannot improve. In Belgium, I got 10 students from the University of Leuven every time during training, and they only worked on measuring is knowing. algorithms. To predict. Where will the opponent strike? Where am I vulnerable? Where is the fraudster? Where can I improve?”

“Good cooperation is indispensable. The data analysts were my coaches. They gave me better insights, allowing me to make better choices. But it was also easier for me to convey my story to the players and coach them in a different, more positive way. Not on a gut feeling but based on facts.”

From good to gold

“And sometimes, you win something and sometimes, you learn something. Out of ten experiments, three are likely to fail. But out the seven others that succeeded, they brought the Dutch women's hockey team at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, from good to gold. If you don't try ten things, you won't succeed seven times."

“So don't whine about the heat in China because everyone stumbles over that. But it's worth taking a look at how innovative or inventive you can handle that heat. For where everyone stumbles, the treasure is buried. If you can handle the heat better, if you have fewer defaulters and fraud cases than your competitor, you will ultimately win. Then, you have more money left over and the fraudsters will run to your competitors, because their deception will succeed there.”

Winners have a plan

“Winners have a plan. They are well prepared, they are ready. Losers have excuses. They complain that a customer has not paid again. Winners try to find a solution, so it doesn't happen again. They are constantly thinking about how they can improve processes. Losers wait and see only obstacles. Winners take initiative, show guts, and take responsibility. They are doing something about it.”

Top sport, digitisation and Graydon

At Graydon, you will find plenty of options to protect yourself (even better) against non-payment and fraud. According to Marc Lammers, if you want your organisation to go from good to gold, you need three things.

  1. To measure is to know: you need data, otherwise you can never know.
  2. Expertise: without expertise you will never get better. If you don't have a talent for data, you hire it.
  3. Best practices: get out of your comfort zone and see how other companies are doing. Which company has few fraud cases? You should check it out if you want to be successful. How did that happen? How do they do that?

Also published in the context of Graydon's EU-Open fraud event:

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