The Digital Factory : Another way of providing service

Ni boîte à idées, ni simple concept marketing, la Digital Factory a pour mission de fournir des services à l’entreprise en s’appuyant sur des méthodologies différentes des process classiques. Néanmoins, elle doit s’intégrer dans l’architecture et l’infrastructure IT existantes et faire l’objet d’une approche concertée entre DSI et CDO.

How does a digital factory help IT improve customer service?

A digital factory helps design applications that can be used by anyone, anytime and anywhere within an organisation. This ReadyForIT conference featured speakers from Les Mousquetaires, Air France and Veolia who share their experience sand the results they have obtained using this solution.

Genesis of the digital factory at three French players

Each sector has its own characteristics. The three French companies at this round table explain how they introduced the digital factory in their respective organisations.

Arrival at Les Mousquetaires

Les Mousquetaires initially wanted to focus on improving e-commerce at all Bricomarché and Intermarché stores, primarily through mobile devices. For 18 months, the group conducted a vast e-commerce modernisation project that ultimately failed, because it involved only the BUs, but not IT.

So, Les Mousquetaires had to rethink how they could successfully conduct a transformation project of this scale, since it is not only technical but also involves the organisation, processes and the customer experience. In addition, the group wanted to accelerate the transformation and give more value to customer service. Today, the digital factory employs 120 people, with 40% of its employees from the BUs and 60% from IT.

The case of Air France

At Air France, change managers questioned company BUs and organisations to understand whether there was a need for expertise to accelerate digital projects. The company already had digital processes, so it had to understand this need in order to better assist the teams and avoid redundant processes with the digital factory.

The group addressed execution and implementation issues in order to accelerate and bring about the ideas provided by the BUs. Today, the digital factory is an intentionally decentralised organic structure, an internal entity serving the BUs that employs some 20 people. This number varies according to needs and projects, since it can be fed by internal or external resources.

The digital factory enjoys a very strong partnership with IT, which directly provided staff and key skills, starting with an IT architect to anchor all the solutions developed by the digital factory within the information system.

The digital factory at Veolia

Veolia’s digital factory was launched three years ago, under the impetus of the arrival of a new digital transformation director. There was no real need to “sell” the project to the group’s general management, which charged the teams responsible for the issue with developing it.

The company initially consisted of two entities, with one focussed on business, innovation and market that wanted to rely on use cases. The other entity had more of an IT focus, with a traditional ISD part using cloud computing and agile methods. Today, these two entities have become one.

At Veolia, the digital factory employs 70 people and there is no desire to expand. On the contrary, the company aims to create networks within the group to create in-house digital factory "branches".

How to address digital factory governance?

Digital factory governance depends on the group and company, although all do share points in common.

Governance at Les Mousquetaires

At Les Mousquetaires, the BUs and IT work very closely and share responsibility, whereas the digital BUs and IT had been quite far apart a few years ago. There is now an IT manager and a business manager who steer the projects together.

The group’s strength lies in its working method based on agile organisation. The IT and BU distinction has disappeared in favour of a mixed team that works to generate business and customer satisfaction through upstream design thinking. This kind of organisation depends on two essential elements:

  • Skilled architects, because it is easy to slip from agility into agitation, since a solid architecture is required
  • Senior scrum masters to reach the speed needed to improve productivity

Air France

Air France has five divisions in its digital factory: operational, project portfolio management, IT, design and acculturation. Governance is not vertical, but collegiate. Three meetings are held each year with the 10 members of the executive committee. It was necessary to demonstrate the value of the digital factory right from the outset, emphasising the approach and the values of this solution:

  • Values: audacity, collaboration and attention.
  • Approach: challenge, never focus on the solution, but discuss why.

Air France discovered the best combination of design thinking and the agile method. When the group starts a project, it uses the agile method for greater ease. Then, design thinking helps to both clearly identify the need and get the participants on board, because digital solutions do not concern just one business line, but several. So, there are many different skills and universes.

And Veolia?

Veolia’s digital factory governance is based on a "seductive adoption” approach. In other words, the employees of the digital factory work for the ISD for free, but according to its terms. Initially, the business part wanted to steer IT’s digital factory in a dominator/dominated relationship, making all the technological choices. Now, IT is in charge, and the results have improved.

Focus on the results obtained by Les Mousquetaires, Air France and Veolia

At the end of the experiment conducted by the three French companies, these are the results:

  • After a year of operation, Air France has improved trust between the BUs and IT. Some 20 projects have been delivered with a satisfaction rate of almost 100%.
  • At Veolia, practical cases are now easier to develop for internal requests because upstream design thinking phases are no longer necessary. The BUs benefit most because the digital factory offers them value at no additional cost.
  • At Les Mousquetaires, the digital factory employs 120 people who are happy there. Performance has improved thanks to a multidisciplinary team. The customer satisfaction rate has also risen greatly. Pascal Basset explains: "There are two ways of addressing a crisis: you either look for someone to blame, or you look for a solution. If you have the right attitude, you will immediately look for the solution", and that's the attitude at Les Mousquetaires.

A number of rules have to be followed when designing a digital factory. The true passport within the company is attitude, as well as humility with respect to the teams in place. The main vector of success is found in collaboration with the other people in the company.

Self-sufficiency is the trap to be avoided. It is important to encourage the teams to communicate, to inform, and in the case of a multinational company, to outsource the digital factory in order to give more power to entities in other countries and allow them participate in the process.

Speakers: Pascal Basset, Les Mousquetaires; Sophie Troel, Air France and Thierry Scanff, Veolia