Transformations numériques - Entrevue avec Barbara Schaper

You will find bellow the english translation of the interview.

Q: What digital transformations do you foresee following the crisis situation of Covid-19 ?

A: I would say without hesitation that work from home means that what we are doing right now, is virtual encounters. Everything related to the management of online meetings, I think it has been, for many, a shock. We take it for granted, our generation, I have the impression. It goes without saying, we are able to work from home and meet people. But I would tell you that from what I've observed, there are several companies that it has shocked. It wasn't in their culture, and the level of confidence of the employees - "Are they going to be as productive?" -, etc. So it was really a shock and they had no choice but to adapt to that. And they won't have a choice in the future because it's something that people have experienced. There are many who liked it, and there are some who didn't like it at all, but there are many employees who liked it too. So now, from what I see, and from what I've experienced 100%, I've seen employees leave companies because the company wanted them to come back to the company in question, but it didn't work. They wanted to work from home and it's not true that productivity is lower.

Q: How do you think the different departments of a company will evolve?

A: Teams used to be very siloed. What we saw was that marketing was talking to each other, HR was talking to each other, but there was no communication between them. But now, when you're at a remote location, it's even more complicated. I also observed that between departments, they started to have meetings, and more and more, they were talking to each other. So I think that this too has had a real impact on the departments themselves. Otherwise, more with the clients, I would say that HR won't have the choice to do other recruitment programs. Marketing, I think it's been a long time since all companies have been going digital, but now it's more and more predominant.

Q: How would you say an effective digital transformation strategy can benefit a business?

A: Companies that are successful with a digital transformation are the ones that put people first. It's all well and good to talk about the best technology in the world, "we're implementing the best ERP", but if your company is not mobilized, if your employees don't have the same vision, don't have the same mission, don't have the same objectives, and if they are not involved from the start, it's going to be a total failure. Even if it's the best thing in the world and that leaders are highly motivated. If they just put it that way... Humans are not robots, and often that's what you have to teach leaders. It's crazy because we spend a lot of time on that. Because humans are complex beings, and humans don't like to change, they don't like change. Change management is super important. So there is really a clash between companies whose employees are motivated, they see the goal with a new online platform, versus a company whose employees don't talk to each other and there is no communication. Often, unfortunately, it won't work.

Q: What advice or tools would you suggest to young professionals to stay on the lookout for digital transformations?

A: In the car, instead of listening to my music - even though I listen to it often too - there are times, often in the morning, when I like to listen to a podcast. I simply go to my Apple Podcast or Spotify and do some research. If I have a 30-minute drive, I'll take a 25-minute podcast on a topic that interests me. I find that it's in moments like that, little everyday moments, that you learn more and more. Because if you impose it on yourself, if you're like "ah I have to learn it", and there's a stress related to it, it's not true that you're going to perpetuate it over time. I think it's little gestures like that, 15-20 minutes, that afterwards you're going to unconsciously learn a lot of things that you like and you're going to learn a lot of things too. Otherwise, another thing I do a lot, and when I started doing this I discovered a lot of things, it's again, instead of listening to Netflix - then again I also listen to Netflix like everybody else - but I listen to a Youtube video. I really like The Futur, by the way if anybody wants to go and do some research on it, The Futur is super interesting. He talks about so many different topics in the digital world, so I recommend him a lot.

Q: What is the process for implementing a digital transformation strategy?

A: In reality, there is the diagnostic stage that we call, and it is the most crucial stage. It's really about dotting the i's of the initial situation. A lot of time is spent figuring out how the processes that are in place now are working. You really have to look at the sores. I think that it's important to go from one subject to another, to act as if "okay, they have a problem in marketing", for example, "and then we're going to put a platform in place that will connect with something, and we'll stay in the technological field"... Ok, it's great on paper, but go implement it... So the student really needs to understand that we need to take the time with the actual humans, to put them onboard and understand their problem. It's almost like being a psychologist at the beginning. It's really: you listen to the person, you want to know if Ginette doesn't trust Richard, you want to know. It's with little insights like that that you're going to figure out why the process isn't working and maybe something might help them.

Q: What are your predictions about the next trends in digital transformation?

A: It's crazy because I think if you had asked me that question 6 months ago, before the Covid actually, it would have been so different. I would have told you about connected objects and a lot of things, but I think that with the Covid, all companies have taken a step back. They went, "Okay, what's going on here," and they got a little bit of insight by saying, "Okay, now we have to stop innovating, at least, put it down a little bit, and get back to the basics: how do we keep our employees motivated and how do we keep them on-board." I think the trends are going to be much more towards effective communication means and corporate structures - just how they've separated HR, they've separated marketing... We see more and more over-liberated structures. Basically, there is no longer any structure, it is a totally liberated company. No one has a specific role anymore, it's less rigid and everyone has a say on a project. We find it really interesting. So, it's boring to say, but the technological trends have taken a step back, I think. From what I've seen in companies, it's more like "okay, we're back to basics, how do we mobilize our employees". Technology will come, but now we're faced with Covid and working from home. Everything has happened, we have to go back to basics.

Q: Any final advice?

A: If I really have one piece of advice for students, it's to be curious, to really get out of your comfort zone and get mentors. It sounds a little crazy, but how I do it is sometimes just - and it really depends on the person - but to approach someone on LinkedIn and say, "Look, I see your profile and it inspires me, can we have a talk on the phone? ». I think you gain a lot by doing that. For me, I've had two mentors in my life, and they've given me so much guidance and good advice. You never lose by asking people for advice, and I think even a mentor needs a mentor. Or teachers! My God, there are teachers at HEC who really guided me. So it's worth it. Don't just go to your class to go to your class. It's such crucial years to make contacts and really be curious. Go get the podcasts. We're so blessed, we have so much information from everywhere. I think we need to take advantage of it.

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