A partner for your big data project? Meet the expert

Jochen Van de Voorde

How can big data make Rotterdam the smartest port in the world? Can insight from data improve the punctuality of public transport? VisionWorks’ BI and analytics experts are constantly investigating how they can use the power of data to help their customers move forward. “An extraordinarily exciting challenge,” says Jochen Van de Voorde. In 2016, Jochen swapped his job as an Oracle developer for that of big data expert at VisionWorks. Today he’s also the competence lead in big data – his hobbyhorse.

Jochen obtained his university degree almost 20 years ago, when almost no one had heard of big data. And certainly not in his field of study: philosophy. Or was it? “Actually, I specialised in cognitive science and neural networks. So there was a link with data,” he admits. “For my master’s thesis, I also studied the impact of computer science on the social interaction between people with autism. So it’s always been there, that interest in data and IT.”

Oracle developer becomes big data engineer

Immediately after completing his studies, Jochen moved towards IT. He followed SAP and Oracle training courses and was an Oracle developer at a number of SMEs from 2000 to 2006. A vacancy in the newspaper led him to Ordina, where he also worked as an Oracle expert: “From warehouse and front-end to BI and database administration: I handled all of them. After ten years, however, it was time for a change of direction. Data science had now become the next big thing and I was immensely interested in it.”

Internal mobility at Ordina

Jochen didn’t think about changing employer, he was too much at home with Ordina for that. However, an internal job change came up. “Ordina attaches great importance to continuous learning and is very open to internal mobility. All employees are encouraged to follow training courses, both within the business unit in which they work and at the organisational level,” explains Jochen. “Newcomers for example, follow an intensive training course on the topic around which they will be working. In the summer of 2016 I followed the data training course in order to supplement everything I’d learned through self-study.” In the autumn Jochen felt confident enough to start working as a big data specialist.

Ordina attaches great importance to continuous learning and is very open to internal mobility. All employees are encouraged to follow training courses.

Online route planner for the Port of Rotterdam Authority

One of the first projects he was involved in was the development of an online route planner for the Port of Rotterdam Authority. “Our Clockwork colleagues have been working with the Port of Rotterdam Authority for several years on the project to convert Rotterdam into a smart port. They called on our help to develop a tool for companies that want smarter planning for their container transport. Based on mass data from transport companies and the port itself, companies can now calculate the most efficient route from A to B via Rotterdam – by sea, rail and inland waterways.”

“Each project is completely different,” Jochen adds. “And that makes it really fascinating. In the past I worked out a solution for optimising production installations using sensor data. Today, I collect insights into online media consumption for a media company.”

What makes Ordina strong in big data?

VisionWorks puts together a team of specialists with the most relevant background for each project. “The VisionWorks team consists of 80 people, including a growing number of big data experts. Our backgrounds are different, which I think is a major asset. There are always experts who speak the customer’s language. By combining our know-how and experience, we often come up with creative solutions. This multidisciplinary approach makes Ordina a strong partner. Because our expertise extends far beyond just IT, we’re a true integrator that provides tailor-made solutions.”

By combining our know-how and experience, we often come up with creative solutions. This multidisciplinary approach makes Ordina a strong partner.

“The wide range of internal training courses are also an asset,” he continues. “From the traineeships and Ordina Academy to the sessions for seniors: because we constantly undergo refresher training courses, we are up-to-date with the technology and trends, we refine our soft skills and we stay on the ball – which is essential if we are to provide our customers with innovative solutions.” Jochen recently started contributing to the training courses available. He’s the competence lead in big data and AWS (Amazon Web Services): he shares his knowledge and experience of capturing and processing data with colleagues (after working hours).

Developments in the field of big data

New insights or even ideas for new projects come from the internal training sessions. Jochen: “In recent years there’s been growing interest in applications around big data. But the potential is still underused. Streaming services that collect data in real time, for example, are hardly used at the moment, and yet they have enormous potential. Predictive and prescriptive analytics are also still in their infancy. It is up to us to work alongside our customers on the challenges they face and look at the solutions big data can provide.”

In recent years there’s been growing interest in applications around big data. But the potential is still underused.

Jochen’s team also develops solutions on request from customers. But they also love to go a step further. “Recently we read in the media about a transport company that has difficulty reporting on the punctuality of their vehicles. On our own initiative, we developed a proof-of-concept and presented it to them,” says Jochen. A great demonstration of his passion for the profession and the business …


Wondering how big data applications can help to solve a challenge? Get in touch with Jochen.