Broekhuis in the driver’s seat with APIs
Curious about how our APIs can improve your company? What kind of use cases are possible with our APIs? Read how Broekhuis uses ABN AMRO’s Business Account Insight API to improve its customer experience in the article below.
A successful co-creation with ABN AMRO
Broekhuis, a family business with over 1500 employees, is a dealer holding which represents 13 car brands with over 50 showrooms. In the Netherlands, 1 in 25 new cars is sold by Broekhuis.
Next to their showrooms, Broekhuis offers an extensive service package, including lease, car hire, fleet management, company vehicle equipment, financing, insurance, and repair. Broekhuis is ABN AMRO’s first client to go live with the Business Account Insight API. We interviewed Lammert van de Bospoort, Project Manager at Broekhuis, about their experience.
Could you explain how the Treasury and IT departments are organized at Broekhuis?
“Treasury is done by the Financial Director who is supported in this by the Controlling department.
Our IT department is completely in-house and has 25 employees divided into 4 teams: application management, application development, data & reporting, and an internal helpdesk. It’s a conscious decision to keep our IT knowledge in-house, so we can remain flexible and responsive and facilitate the car dealers in a uniform way so that clients experience consistent quality.”
You’re the first ABN AMRO client to go live with the Business Account Insight API. Why the interest in APIs?
“We’re always working on further developing our own systems and extracting qualitative data from our sources. When ABN AMRO invited us to work in co-creation on the implementation of APIs, we were already using a kind of API of our own that could access payment information. However, it was our aim to keep this information at the dealers, so they have access to it themselves. Also, our data was inadequate and minimal. Our Business staff, therefore, requested the Finance team to look for a solution. ABN AMRO’s Business Account Information API seemed a good fit. With this API, we have been able to combine information from our systems and improve our customer experience.”
What’s your strategy regarding APIs and accessing data?
“Every supplier can add value by providing their data. We want to be able to request this information without the intervention of that supplier. We can then decide for ourselves what we’re going to do with it. And we can also combine data from different sources.
We don’t use real-time data. Instead, we send all data from our suppliers to a data warehouse, where the information is categorized and sent out once a week overnight. We’d like to be able to send real-time data. And that’s the advantage of an API: you’re completely in control and you have real-time data.”
“We want our salespeople spending their time with the client, not on accessing information.”
At ABN AMRO, we’ve noticed that not every client is ready for APIs. What steps have you taken to make sure you are? And what advice can you offer our clients?
“The most important thing is that you know what you want to do with the API. If you just go along with it because APIs are fashionable and you think the technology is fun, your case will soon run aground. The business case itself doesn’t necessarily have to be something big. As long as you can clearly describe and name the issue, you’ll be able to address it effectively with technical people. Developers need a clear idea of the problem. At Broekhuis we have the advantage that our developers are in-house. And even with external parties: as long as your story is clear they’ll be able to understand your requirements perfectly well.
We’ve involved our IT people from Day 1. A classic pitfall is to work the case out completely first with the Treasury department and the business. It’s better to start testing as soon as possible and broaden things out from there. By working incrementally, you find out quicker whether it works or not, and it really needn’t cost much in terms of IT.
Developing a business case is difficult. Although you can easily calculate costs, it’s more complicated trying to calculate revenues. How do you monetize the number of minutes you’ll save sales staff? It’s difficult to express that in money, but in qualitative terms, it definitely adds value for the client.”
You’ve been live with the Business Account Information API for 5 months now. How was the implementation process?
“We had regular meetings with our contacts at ABN AMRO to discuss the status, even when there was no immediate reason to do so. That was very useful because we were in an early stage. Of course, the process included technical and formal elements. Discussions around these two areas are quite different, so I had my contact persons at ABN AMRO, and the developers from both parties were in direct contact with each other. Continuous dialogue proved to be very effective in discussing functional and technical aspects.
Working with ABN AMRO in a Design Thinking process also really worked for us. Both ABN AMRO and Broekhuis work incrementally in sprints, and continuously engage and adapt if necessary.”
“Continuous dialogues proved to be very effective in discussing functional and technical aspects.”
Now that you have started working with this specific API, can you explain how the API works and what you’ve achieved with it to date?
“We wanted to make payment information available that our colleagues in the showrooms could request themselves. The Business Account Information API makes that information available in our Intranet environment. So the salespeople can view their own showroom’s payment information in a few clicks. In terms of privacy, it’s watertight, as the salesperson’s profile determines what information they’re allowed to view. So you don’t need to work with passwords.
The information is to a certain extent displayed unfiltered. The salesperson can apply filters themselves, for example by cost, license plate or date. For now, the data is pretty raw, as we’re still working on improving the intelligence.”
How do you want to use the Business Account Information API in the future?
“Payment information is obviously important for our salespeople, as they need to know whether a payment has been made on a car. Currently, the salespeople still have to retrieve that information themselves from the portal. Our ultimate goal is to add this information to a checklist that the salesperson can go through when delivering a car. Or we’d like to be able to send a notification to the salesperson in advance that the car hasn’t yet been paid for. We want this information to bring us closer to our salespeople.”