Digital transformation : discussion with L’Oreal CDO


Last week L’Oreal organized an informal chat with their Chief Digital Officer, Lubomira Rochet, who introduced her vision of the job and the state of the digital transformation in L’Oreal. The chat was simple, without showing off, without stonewalling. Thanks Lubomira for this opportunity and for your openmindness.

A new job 
Like for any new project or new job position, comprehension is primary, even when you think you are the specialist. So Lubomira has taken 90 days to listen and meet 10 persons/day. The idea was to understand a market and a culture of a company she wasn’t part of before. That’s this tension between these two cultures which is exiting according her, in a job position you have to build. The digital is more and more important in L’Oreal with a growth of 30%-40% last year for the e-commerce. This growth embody more and more a real alternative to physical shop when they are not really structured.

Where to begin
The first lesson is the same for many companies. When your sponsor is the CEO, and he is committed, that’s a real chance. This transformation goes through several points, but mainly the training : e-learing program for all employees and an immersive program for the top management. But it’s necessary to go further with an action plan. Then L’Oreal organized an hackaton with their business line to imagine the next business step. So not an hackaton to be trendy but one with a real impact to produce a roadmap at the end for the business unit. When business is already efficient, difficult to explain that it will go even better without proving it. Performance management is key as a signal, even if training and digital IT are part of this journey and are enablers. But the time is not the same for a CDO and CIO. It’s months versus years for projects.

Start small move fast
Concretely pilots have been set up in 12 countries like France, USA, Brazil, Dubai, Indonesia, Turkey… the idea was a mix of countries of different size and maturity level. With the same idea, one project by division, so 5 pilots, to show the impact of digital. There is a diagonal of digital success in l’Oreal from Indonesia via Turkey to Canada. After that, some brands are more digital minded like L’Oréal Paris with for instance its app, MakeupGenius. There was even a trial with google glasses in Australia for makeup tutorial last year. But you have to understand and control the technology, at least for data privacy reason.

The start up paradigm
It’s more and more trendy to work with start up or buy some by big French companies. L’Oreal is aware that even if they get an entrepreurship DNA, with countries very independant, there is still a huge gap between with their corporate culture. For instance, L’Oreal is focus on perfection, which is the opposite of a beta and fail&learn culture. So the good shot is to understand what will be next disruption inside the ecosystem, and decide what will be the smart move : partnership, share or buying ? What is sure is that you can’t succeed alone, so work with the right start up ecosystem is key.

HR role
Most of the time HR are not really part of the digital transformation in companies, but in L’Oreal they are aware that HR are key for a real digital transformation because transformation is organisation related and a real transformation is about people first. For instance the digital has to become core in the business and this job will disappear when it will be done. As well, in the talent war HR has to prove to the new digital generation that they are as digital and desirable as pure player like GAFA. For the moment, there is not a real internal management change even if the digital team try to lead by example. As well, it’s easier to convince people when your team is composed of external people with this new culture and internal people who understand the group culture. The internal are more efficient to convince colleagues they know for long time, and avoid the non invented here syndrom.

L’Oreal is a love brand, but at the end if L’Oreal die, what people will miss ? Understand what digital can bring to avoid an uberisation is mandatory, so you have to question your usefulness which has to be enriched by services.