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January 14, 2017

ESSEC 2016: Digital, the revolution without limits?

January 14, 2017

ESSEC 2016: Digital, the revolution without limits ?

Smartphones, tablets, social networks are taking more and more place in our daily lives, upsetting our private and professional habits. But how far can digital go? The question gave its theme to the second Business meetings organized by ESSEC Alumni and essec Executive education.

The figures advanced by Gilles Babint, multi-entrepreneur and digital champion for France to the European Commission, are without appeal. Since the beginning of 2016, the entire world population is connected to the mobile phone: There are in total 7.6 billion of SIM cards. And in 2025, the entire planet will be connected to the world by an IP address. The digital revolution is constantly spreading.

The mutation of the trades.

According to Tanguy Favennec, digital marketing director at Air France, "digital does not herald the disappearance of the human being, but the change of jobs". This is why the group has decided to bring together the activities linked to its website, mobile applications, social networks, search engines and self-service kiosks in a single digital division, whose workforce has increased from 25 to 200 people over the last four years. A major reorganisation, which certainly exposes the risk of creating a silo within the company, but which has notably enabled the Air France site to become the second largest e-commerce platform in France. "This success is due to three main factors: the commitment of the general management, the recruitment of digital marketing experts with a strategic vision and a culture of transversality, and the excellent relationship between the business and IT teams. "Reorganisation also took place at Engie, with the creation of a Digital Factory, a centre of tools and skills made available to the group's 24 operational entities to support them in their digital transition thanks to various partnerships (Thalès, Fjord, IBM, etc.). Valérie Gaudart, Director of Human Resources, talks about a real cultural revolution: "We are piloting reverse mentoring activities, offering a digital passport and MOOCs on internal transformation, developing teleworking...". Digital technology is no longer just an end in itself, but already a means: "With Li, we have launched Matching Energy, an algorithm that brings employees together by interest. "The aim is to encourage synergies and transdisciplinarity... and to identify new talent capable of bringing about change "whatever the generation". Ahmad Hassan, partner at Heidrick & Struggle, explains the profile sought: "We need employees who are willing to take risks and make mistakes. Fear slows down digital transformation". Isabelle Mashola, former CIO at Publicis and co-founder of the digital outsourcing platform Isahit, confirms: "When Publicis set up a private cloud to improve the multi-channel customer journey, there was a lot of resistance from the teams because they were afraid that technology would replace their work". "For her, the verdict is clear: "We need to hire new blood, people with a more agile mindset. »

The transformation of business models.

For Alain Vallée, researcher in the Chair Innovation and regulation of digital services at Télécom ParisTech, the dematerialization of services has upset the chain of value creation, "On the one hand dissociating the function of its support, which has Led to the fall of the historical actors, on the other by generating considerable economies of scale, which led to the emergence of new models. The music industry, the most anciently affected, illustrates this evolution perfectly: first, revenues have fallen. Then they moved. Today, we no longer pay on the subject – The number of CDs sold – but on the consumption itself – the number of wiretaps on a streaming site. Digital platforms have been grafted onto the value chain and are now the central articulation. "They connect two groups of users: those looking for the audience and those looking for entertainment. And it is this service that they monetize, instead of the products themselves, which are no more than vectors. Thus the source of value is no longer upstream but downstream: "What sells is the ability to understand the market." These are the algorithms and the data collected on the customers. The latter are so propelled into the heart of the ecosystem – which is disrupting their relationship with businesses. Aurélien Henry, director of Business consulting at Velvet Consulting, cites the example of Wizing, which integrated weather information into its new connected scale model after finding that its users were most likely to weigh Around 7:30, the moment they dress and where they need to know the time it will do. "There is a growing decleavage of the back office and the front office." With consequences up to the sociological level: we develop the sense of sharing and the collective, we leave the consumption of mass to the benefit of the ultrapersonnalisation... Another reversal: We now favour immediate enjoyment of the property. It is the advent of free. Alexandre Pébereau, founder of Tofane and former of Orange, recalls: The outbreak of Skype caused a shock wave in mobile telephony. We passed in a few years of a world where the slightest minute of a call abroad cost us a fortune at a time when we each have an average of five hours of international communication per year without impact on our bill. Because the digital transitions have this particular effect that they always take place at breakneck speed. Christophe Parcot (E90), member of the board of Directors of, knows something about it: digital advertising is changing at a frantic pace. In a few years, we have seen the overloaded pages, the adblockers, the unforced and highly targeted formats being inserted into a text, and now the OutStream. The principle: Every single visitor of a site is auctioned in real time (less than 200 ms) directly from the advertisers. This programmatic mode of purchase already concerns 30 to 40% of the transactions and threatens to désintermédier the agencies – whereas it has only been there for five years! » Conclusion: «Needless to resist. Customers impose digital processing. The real problem is how to react. Integrating disruption as the only constant in its activities – this is perhaps the only viable model in this new economy.

From the start-up to the scale-up.

While digital creates an ecosystem conducive to entrepreneurship, its young actors are nonetheless faced with specific difficulties. Delphine Le Serre, co-founder of StudyWork, recalls: We had trouble finding our CTO. He had to meet three criteria: to have technical skills – or France is sorely lacking in developers; Have a business sensibility – to understand our needs and to be attentive to user feedbacks; And be motivated in spite of low remuneration – even be able to self-finance for 12 to 24 months, in return for shares... Charlotte Sieradzki, co-founder of Cook Angels, faced the same problem: we had to use the services of several agencies. It's been a long search. But it is not enough to surround yourself with the right people: you also have to develop the right product. Antoine Petit, president and chief executive officer of Inria, said: "Any technology does not necessarily lead to a product, and does not necessarily find a customer." A start-up can rotate several times before identifying the right mix. Cyril Garnier, managing director of SNCF Développement, confirms: The priority is to meet the customer's needs. Because it is he who will take over the investors to carry your growth. Bernard-Louis Roques (E86), co-founder of Truffle Capital, situates this rocker when the start-up moves from experimentation to execution. "You've developed your product, and you've met your market. But you still have to develop your teams, specialize the functions, conquer the International. It is a marketing, commercial, operational, managerial challenge... And, of course, financial. At this point, Cyril Garnier distinguishes two options: either you are already profitable enough to pay wages, pay the suppliers and invest yourself. In which case, do not hesitate to be helped – unless you already have an extensive network and strong skills thanks to your past professional experiences. Either, like Uber, you can only achieve profitability by changing scales. Then you have to do a new fundraising. Bernard-Louis Roques warns: You will not find the financing of this level in France. Only the United States and China are able to put more than 50 million on the table. » Charlotte Sieradzki Nuance: Start with Europe. Across the Atlantic, the competition is tough. Cyril Garnier advises to turn to Africa, especially Francophone, where new forms of digital consumption are appearing, opening up interesting perspectives. All agree on one point: changing the scale in the digital necessarily implies going international.

The revolution of uses.

How to respond to the need for training that the digital revolution induces? Using the tools and resources that it makes available to everyone. Tanguy Yu, co-founder of Ubicast, accompanies companies in the realization, indexing and archiving of videos of training corporate. Objective: To create virtual libraries to which employees can refer in order to initiate themselves in a few clicks on a particular topic. In the same vein, Alexandre Mezard, co-founder of Cumulus, offers an interactive video-learning solution: "This allows you to learn at your own pace." New educational opportunities that are coming to the world of education. Nicolas Glady, Professor of ESSEC's Accenture Strategic Business Analytics Chair, says: It is not a question of replacing training with digital, but of including it, keeping the idea of user experience and linking: Peer learning, peer evaluation... Svenia Bussion, co-founder of the Edtech World Tour, advocates the same approach: technologies are a tool. They are in addition to meetings, experiences and travels – they do not replace them. Stephan Marthelot (G13), Director of marketing and development at the ArtLine Institute, quotes the MIT Micromasters as an example: "We start by following MOOCs, and if we validate, we do a semester of courses on campus." Especially since the participants themselves are not always ready to take a course entirely on the Internet. Sylvain Peterson, director of human resources for taxis G7, noted: Employees are reluctant to filmed tutorials. They demand face and coaching. Nonetheless, online training institutions are trying – and their course catalogue is often resolutely turned to the digital revolution of which they themselves emanate. A virtuous circle which, far from having reached its limits, is only in its infancy.

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