The Digital Revolution is foremost a Human Revolution

22 June 2017
The Digital Revolution is foremost a Human Revolution


  • The biggest revolution in the history of human kind
  • 4th industrial revolution, physical, digital and mindset
  • Power shift from companies to consumers
  • Massive disruption across industries

Ex: Amazon changed our way of buying things. They created a company culture of "Uber speed innovation".

The Financial and Tax industries are also feeling the heat:

  • cashless society (India banned small cash by law in November 2016)
  • robot lawyers with Ross software - a powered platform which gives legal advice

38% of jobs could be lost to automation in the US by 2030.


How to create conditions for success?


1. Rethink the organization, culture, people - they need to have a DIGITAL DNA  

  • Rethink objectives: realign strategy on new competitive landscape and new customer expectations
  • Prepare the organization, the culture, people
  • Manage the present and the future

2. Build a culture of continuous development: quickly launch new products/services. 


3. Critical component: THE HUMAN SIDE

  • Leverage your assets
  • Offer the best customer experience


Case examples in this new scenario

1/ Make the store the heart of customer journey: 90% of sales come from brick and mortar stores.

They represent unique brand value. Most e-commerce businesses open a physical store.

Store roles need to be revolutionized:

  • Meaningful experience
  • Community
  • Expanded warehouse (click and collect)
  • Connected stores


Ex: Darty connected store: unified customer experience across channels: catalog, pricing, inventory, reviews in order to improve the customer shopping journey.

They have a digital assistance for the sales team to enable cross channel development.


2/ Empower sales associates

They are the most important means of providing (a) customer experience:

  • They need to have all the information
  • But they are overwhelmed and have a large turn over


Ex:  Carrefour, where they successfully empowered sales associates by giving them access to extensive online information (as per customers):

  • Inventory
  • Promotions
  • Product features
  • Product comparison
  • Possibility of calling the manager if further assistance is needed.


Offer 100% personalized experience for customer by developing web and mobile platform:

  • When using the physical channel, the machine is registering the preferences.
  • Personalized web page for each customer with customized special offers.


The first part of this article is largely based on the conference I attended at the Franco-American Chamber of Commerce in New York. The speaker was Emilia Hagashi, partner Oyez Americas


How to leverage on the human side of change?


“It’s better to learn it all than to know it all” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

1/ “Customer centricity”

The first step is creating conditions within a company that will foster learning.  Faced with this new model of customer service, enterprises adopt a new customer centric philosophy.  This entails in the first place listening to customers in the field to ascertain their buying behavior. Yet in order to create a listening and dialogue culture with customers, enterprises must also introduce this new type of behavior internally by listening to employees, particularly those who work in the field with customers, since they can put forward the best ideas.  In the digital revolution the company’s management no longer has the exclusive right to submit good ideas, but must provide conditions that will make such ideas emerge from the field.


2/ Employee centricity

Putting employees at the heart of the system implies a radical change of the manager’s role: the manager is no longer the person who controls (or who not only controls, since in certain businesses control is still important) or knows more than others, but the person who listens, encourages his co-workers’ know-how and wisely picks good ideas and spreads them throughout the company.

 This may raise the question of the manager’s legitimacy, especially concerning managers who have based their career on technical expertise.  In fact, human expertise and expertise on developing team work become much more important at certain levels.

 I firmly believe that from early childhood school should teach children psychology, as well as math and languages. Human psychology is complex, unpredictable and in a certain way un-decodable.  It is like learning thousands of Chinese characters, each character corresponding to a human being.  It is therefore better to start early….

A word of caution: employee centricity is much more complex and stimulating than “listening to navel-gazing people “ or “overcoming disagreements among co-workers”.  Employee centricity is an upstream process and should be introduced  at all company levels.  It is therefore necessary to implement conditions that will encourage employees to suggest ideas.  These ideas should be  listened to and, even though some of them may not be developed , employees should  still be willing to propose new ones.


3/ Test & Learn

The right to make mistakes and learning from our mistakes is part of the cultural change engendered by the Digital Revolution.  We have an idea, we test it, we improve it, we test it again and if it doesn’t work, we have the courage to abandon it and bring out a new one without regrets, recriminations, guilt feelings. By adopting critical thinking, resilience and the capacity to inject new enthusiasm, employees will be able to engender new ideas.

This process entails a very rapid implementation cycle since ‘digital’ in itself has a rapid connotation and reacts drastically to excessive and paralyzing analysis.


4/ Techniques applicable  to ‘learning’ enterprises

The best techniques to generate promising ideas come from employees’ teams, the more the better.  They share their perception of customer needs and find innovating ideas: Design Thinking, Deep Dive, World Café, Open Space and any other version of these techniques.

 The operating principle is easy to understand: creating the conditions that will facilitate listening to, and interaction among, co-workers on issues they find meaningful. 

The goal is finding permanent solutions to their problems and/or new ideas on service requirements or product-line needs.

Typically employees are enthusiastic about this evolution and can hardly believe the ease with which they can achieve optimum results in a short time while at the same time finding pleasure in their work.



The digital revolution is not only a matter of technique; it also entails changing our way of thinking in order to create fertile ground that will enable employees who are in daily contact with customers to generate promising ideas. 

Read other articles