STÉPHANE OLMANST is VP, ICT NH at Stefanini.
What was the level of digitalisation in your centre before COVID-19?
Several initiatives were already started prior to COVID-19, some with more success than others, that were frequently delayed due to users concerns about their future. Some of the Digital automation initiatives we were looking to deploy were difficult to “sell”.
How COVID-19 impacted digital transformation of your company?
It did not per se trigger any additional or new initiatives, but mainly gave a boost to the ones we already started. The fact that 99.9% of our end-users were now working remote brought a different perspective and the realization that some of the projects we wanted to automate – which were difficult to embrace by some of our employees and stakeholders from the beginning – suddenly became a must. In other words, I’m seeing a forced acceleration of previously slow-moving trends which will likely, in the short term, shape our future.
What type of processes did you digitalise in the last 2 months?
Onboarding & Offboarding. It is key for us being a growing People Company; onboarding of employees needed to be optimized and adapted to the new roles and toolset required.
Lots of self-service and intelligent automation using our Sophie platform were implemented in front-end and back-end to automate manual processes and perform data analytics.
What helped you the most during this period? And why?
What mainly helped was the availability of our employees required for those projects, stakeholders, project owners, quality and knowledge specialists, etc…; as travel was not allowed anymore, the majority of the SMEs which are usually on the road, were more available to meetings than before to discuss Digital Automation initiatives.
What was the hardest thing to do? And why?
For me, the hardest part was that I was now suddenly obliged to work from home, moving from an office activity to a 100% work from home, which I was personally not used to, nor in favor before. I needed to separate private life from the business and the morning trip to the office was for me the demarcation point. The other thing I miss is the social networking & the non-virtual team meetings.
Do you think COVID-19 is a before-and-after moment/turning point in digital transformation?
Definitely the on-demand economy as always is an important part of the digital transformation, which means that the way we used to consume, prior to COVID-19, will change for sure. Most of the traditional business will cease or transform if they want to survive. In our business, B2B is very much influenced by the B2C, as the end-user is typically looking to reproduce the way they consume services in their private life. Every situation, discussion, process failure is now an opportunity for digitalization.
How did the employees/your colleagues adapt and embrace digital transformation during the lockdown?
I must say pretty well, our People & Culture department recently ran an internal Employee Wellbeing Survey in order to better understand our employees’ current work environment and any challenges they may face in this time of uncertainties. Questions were around their general feeling of the situation, the working from home experience, positives and negatives and how we could support them better to move forward. We were happily surprised with the results which also confirm that not only today’s technology allows our organization to securely work from everywhere, but with the proper communication, support and respect our employees are able to find a better balance between their professional and personal life. Which again can only be successful if we are able to implement digital transformation, which assists and helps employees in their daily activities.
Do you have a story or an image regarding this forced digitalization that you will remember or tell when someone will ask you about this period?
What is the next step in your company digital transformation?
Digital transformation is for me a state of mind, we need to continually evolve and adapt with an external focus. If our internal users are happy and can perform well because they have the right processes and toolsets in their hand to operate then it can only be more beneficial for our customers. But it is not just about the technology department, every department of the company has a role to play if we want to be successful with our Digital Transformation. COVID-19 gave us an opportunity to look from the other side of the road, it is changing our culture and experience, changing our mindset which is again the key when we are designing the most appropriate and manageable Digital transformation.