On September 25th, 2019, more than 150 tech and ICT professionals gathered at PwC's Crystal Park to discuss the latest digital trends, during the 7th edition of IT Days. Several local and international experts shared their knowledge and best practices on how to lead a successful digital transformation, answering to the following question: who's actually in the driver's seat?

The event started with Kamel Amroune, CEO of Farvest Group, welcoming the participants before leaving the stage to Patrice Witz, Digital Leader, PwC Luxembourg. He first stated: "Last year we had a discussion around emerging technologies, and today, we will discuss the digital transformation journey". He also highlighted that the UE released a survey stating that Luxembourg benefits from strong digital infrastructures, but also notices an important gap when it comes to integrating digital within companies. He added: "It is crucial to understand what digital transformation means for all those companies, understand their journey and key drivers. One question remains: who's driving it?" Patrice Witz then welcomed Stefan Berend, Head of Start-up Acceleration, Luxinnovation, who acted as Master of Ceremony.


The transformation of the entire business, through digital

Olivier Beaujean (CIO & CDO, IEE), who was also named CIO of the Year during the 2018 IT One Gala, then took the stage. He first explained that three questions absolutely need to be answered before starting to transform the company: Why do we need to change? What needs to be changed and how can we do it? "Markets conditions are changing, but are these external changes enough to convince us to change old habits? You need to change the way things are perceived: focus on giving a meaning to as many collaborators as possible," he added. Olivier Beaujean then insisted on the need to answer to the "what" question, concerning the services and products which need to be transformed: "listing business, services and projects is a normal business exercise, and so is linking their specific value. Then, define the appropriate strategy: what do I want to do with those products and services? Will I go for a defensive strategy or should it be more offensive?" Then, when it comes to "how", he explains that it should start with the enablers such IT capabilities, business processes and culture. According to him, the real objective is not to be more efficient, but to change and adapt the strategy while constantly questioning the business models. "The agility of the company allows us to do so. And it's much more than digitalization, it's about reviewing values, offers, go the market models, etc.," highlighted the CDO.

"Who should be driving it?" he asked. "Well, it depends on the industry, on the size of the company, etc. You cannot apply the same rule to all the companies. But one thing's for sure: it's a team effort. And do not forget that it is fundamental to change the perception of the highest number of key actors. The engagement and leadership of the top management is crucial," added the CDO. The expert concluded his presentation by underlining that it is necessary to respect this specific order: why, what and how, and to have a unique strategy. "Having a connected approach to change will allow the company to transform and question itself. Moreover, focus on business and not on digital, and finally put the right stakeholders in the driving seat, right from the start".


Digital: the central part of today's strategies

"The evolution of the role of the CDO" was the topic addressed by Anna Vassileva, Digital Director, PwC Luxembourg. She started: "Digital impacts the entire company, products and services, but also the organization and its employees. No industry can escape it". She then shared her definition of the Chief Digital Officer: he/she can be described as the executive responsible of implementing and developing the strategy in a digital age. He/she leads the company through its cross-functional transformation and is therefore the catalyst for the digital transformation. Moreover, digital impact the inside, but also the outside of the company, as it transforms the way products are delivered to the clients and aims at improving the satisfaction and experience. Anna Vassileva also shared her definition of the digital champions before listing some of the steps in becoming such a champion, through the entire journey which can represent an important challenge, especially for traditional players with a strong culture and legacy systems. "They first need to go through the discovery phase with pilot projects. The structuration phase will follow, with the definition of the vision and ambitions, the alignment with top management and a clear governance. Then comes industrialization phase, which has to be coherent within the company. In the final step, digital will be everywhere, and will be considered as the norm," she explained. According to the latest studies, the number of CDOs has increased in the last years, but at a slower pace, and Europe is leading the way with 40% of companies now having a Chief Digital Officer, compared to 23% in North America.

"Where is the role heading?" she then asked. Its mission is still to transform the organization and revamp the legacy system. "There are also new expectations: the role has become much more transformative, cross-functional silos and has to understand business units. Moreover, the tech background is now crucial, in order to know how to disrupt the companies and the latest techs to invest in. It has now become way more strategic," explained the expert.

"As Digital Transformation becomes part of the core business, its implications are more and more profound. It requires the responsibilities of every member of the executive team. Digital has to be embedded and spread. Today, most of CEOs are driving it, but more roles assume this position," concluded Anna Vassileva.


Building the company of the future

The organizers then welcomed Olivier Vansteelandt (CIO, AXA Luxembourg) and Magali Zuber (Head of Marketing, Offer & Distribution, AXA Luxembourg) for a first gamified fireside chat entitled "Digital Transformation: Choose your copilot" and lead by Gregory Weber, PwC Luxembourg. The session started with Magali Zuber stating that she would rather call the current period a "digital transition", as digital is just one part of the entire transformation of the organization. Olivier Vansteelandt agreed: "A digital transition…but a company transformation, as digital is not an objective itself. We are talking about a deeper transformation". The Head of Marketing also explained that according to her, the customers were actually driving it: "At AXA, we put the customers first. Olivier and I are co-sponsors: he is in charge of the IT part and I'm on the customer expectations part". The CIO then explained that everybody needed to be on board for the digital transition to be successful: "the IT department can change the tools but it's more difficult to change the people and the organization". Discussing their collaboration, Magali Zuber underlined Olivier's true ability to listen and understand, allowing them to find solutions together. She added: "He's a dream co-pilot, a problem solver and an opportunity maker. We are very supportive of each other, which is crucial to lead such a complex transformation". They also agreed on the fact that they are currently transforming the company and preparing it for the future.


"Involve me and I learn"

Then, Eric Payan, CDO of Bosch Rexroth, gave a keynote speech with a focus on his best practices and the projects he implemented in order to create the factory of the future. He started his presentation by quoting Benjamin Franklin: "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn". "We all know the latest tech concepts, from AI to blockchain, but how do we manage change? People do not like change, they are scared. Communicating is not enough," he added before sharing his own experience and the introduction of digital concepts within Bosch Rexroth, guided by the need to improve productivity. "We created an initiative called "Plant and Product of the Future", composed of 3 main elements: productivity competitiveness, quality improvement and innovation, for the customers, but also for the company and its employees," he highlighted. Eric Payan than shared his methodology, from workshops and ideation to incubation and create realization of the projects. He then underlined that involving people from the start was the key to success. As a conclusion, he explained that "the creation of a culture of change, through digital, is not always a question of tech, project management or money. You really need to think about the employees. To create such a culture of transformation, people must be at the center".

Providing digital to the entire company

A second discussion around digital transformation and its main actors was organized, and saw the participation of Gilles Delattre (VP Digital Transformation, LuxairGroup) and Yannick Kirschhoffer (CIO, LuxairGroup). According to the VP, a successful digital transformation has to start with the support of top management and its sponsor. "Awareness is the key: what needs to be done? And where are we currently and where do we want to go?" he added. The CIO explained that digital gives more and more input to companies and that data needs to be transformed into knowledge. "We need to develop agility and customer centricity, as a global mindset". He described himself as a geek and would like to see everyone in the company develop his/her own apps, and actually become some kind of developer: "people should be empowered by IT!". Back to the VP, he sees Yannick Kirschhoffer as a true CTO and partner with key and expertise, which is crucial because there is a lot of hype around digital transformation and its fuzzy concepts: "we need a technical guy who can actually tell us if it's possible or if it's not". The VP Digital Transformation also explained that with his CIO, they are currently writing a new chapter, by bringing agility to Luxair: "it will impact the company for a long time". On the evolution of his role, he thinks that digital will be decentralized in the future, with the empowerment of business units. "We are transforming concepts into tangible products, and are therefore complementary, added Yannick Kirschhoffer, combining the knowledge of the industry standards with the knowledge of the business allows us to bridge the gap".


Digital Transformation: Success stories

"The Transformation of IRIS Luxembourg in order to serve the customers of today and tomorrow" was the name of the session animated by Kevin Casoli, Country Director, IRIS Luxembourg, who stated: "Digital transformation is an amazing adventure, decision to change, decision to go for unknown experiences and it represents a huge business opportunity. Don’t forget to play otherwise you won't transform". He also explained that is was important to show the market that what you are providing is working, especially by proving it with your own reference. The expert then shared the roadmap of IRIS Luxembourg and its methodology: "Be simple, agile, pragmatic, realistic and… ambitious. Also be business centric!"

Ronny Muller (Product Owner, Banque de Luxembourg) and Corentin Huot (Senior Associate - Digital Transformation, PwC) then took the stage for a presentation entitled "Enhance your transformation through employee experience - A perspective" with both experts highlighting the fact that 'internal adoption is key to transform ideas into concrete projects. According to Ronny Muller, "the employees are the most valuable assets you have in the company, as business is driven by internal processes. Digital is not only a tech transformation. Therefore, you need to onboard everybody. Moreover, copy & paste is not an option". Lately, Banque de Luxembourg has been working with PwC Luxembourg, in order to create new employee experiences, and notably used design thinking methods. Corentin Huot then explained how PwC was able to map the situation and create a seamless employee experience to make sure the collaborators are comfortable at every stage of their life at the bank: "start with research, then analysis and ideation, to work on prototypes. Our secret recipe: "learn what to do before doing it. It's OK to fail and move on, build your experience on feedback. Also, note that if you want to innovate, you have to take risks".


Alexandre Keilmann

Photos: Dominique Gaul

Publié le 26 septembre 2019