Michel Ezran: Manager have a sense of urgency for the digital transformation but often lack of the right enabling practices!

As part of this year’s “Future Day” at Enterprise Digital SUMMIT we have invited Michel Ezran of Lecko to give us again a review on the key findings from Lecko’s research on the state of the ESN establishment within large companies. Michel Ezran is the Director of E2.0 Consulting at Lecko, a leading consulting firm in France. The annual research of Lecko includes an evaluation of the usage of ESNs within large companies as well as an interrogation of senior managers on this matter.

michel_ezran1) Michel – you will again present the latest key findings from Lecko’s research on the state of the ESN establishment within large companies. What are the three key tags that characterize the key results?

Beyond ESN establishment, we assess the state and progresses of digital transformation within organisations. But it’s true that the ESN, inspite of it’s virtual nature is, in a way, the materialization of digital transformation, it is the place where new work practices happen.

To answer your question, the 3 tags that summarize the whole story are :

  • Awareness
  • Sense of urgency
  • Lack of practice

2) At the E20 SUMMIT 2015 you had also presented the results of the 2015 study. What is different in regards to your research approach and the key findings?

This year we professionalized even more our study by building it in partnership with opinion way, a poll institute, which enabled us to have a scientific approach and collect the perception of digital transformation of a representative set of managers. This way we have an accurate representation of the reality of digital transformation in companies based in France, larger than 5000 employees. Other new stuff : our collaboration with our partner and counterpart in UK, Agile Elephant. The idea is to give an international endeavor to our research and compare results in France to UK and the rest of Europe.

3) What have been the key finding from this year’s additional interrogation of senior managers on their views of the ESN as tool and enabler for the digital transformation. Are they aware of the importance of the connection between the internal and external transformation efforts?

Managers are not stupid people (!) they are fully aware of the importance of digital transformation. There is even a sense of urgency. They know that their organizations must evolve and soon. They sometimes panic because they feel a need for emergency but they don’t know what to do and where to start. They are also worried because they understand that digital is going to change the game, but not how to take advantage of the new deal.

4) What are the key use cases for the ESN? At the conference discussions in the past we have discussed the importance of the business focus for the usage of the ESN. Do the results show this approach?

Yes, with maturity, social usages are more business oriented and no more limited to few basic usages made by pioneers like collaborative tech watch ! From our customers, we see more and more core business use cases deployed in a large scale. Examples :

  • Best practices and experience sharing in retail distribution networks (shops) in the luxury industry (clothes, perfumes, jewelry, …)
  • Collecting and discussing feedback on products and services among Air France – KLM cabin crews (Air France digital transformation leader will talk at the Paris conference)
  • Massive participative innovation at Sodexo, who will also talk at the Paris summit
  • Large Best practices & problem solving comunities in the Construction and work industry

The fact that more and more customer facing business lines and workers adopt business oriented social usages is really a meaningful signal.

4) What are your drawbacks on the reasons for this low-understanding of the transformational power of those networks?

Most professional now understand the need of transformation, whether because they are scared to be uberized or because they see it as an opportunity or at least because they don’t want to stay on the side of the road.

But it takes time to convert this awareness into concrete, daily practices, and companies don’t give themselves much time nowadays.

5) Isn’t the positioning of the “social initiative” as Enterprise Social Networking already the wrong approach? Shouldn’t the “collaborative idea” be the central part of this approach?

Yes and that’s why we observe on the field : the priority comes back to collaboration, where the business value is : collaborate efficently on business matters first, social will come naturally !

With the development of new tools and their ease of deployment, the idea of a unique, global corporate ESN for the whole company is no more realistic. Corporate IT must provide a framework and at the same time accept that their users develop multiple usages with multiple tools.

6) What are your recommendations for changing this situation and for unfolding the transformational effects of the collaborative approach?

I think the transformation is on it way. We just have to foster it by :

  • Large acculturation programmes to develop a fertile soil
  • Identifying change leaders, help them, recognize them, coach them : they are the engine
  • Communicate on the success stories (rather than on potential benefits)
  • Setup a collaborative governance of digital transformation, including all stakeholders and not siloed by technologies (Intranet / ESN / Productivity / …)

7) At the Enterprise Digital SUMMIT we are emphasizing the advancements in AI technology and the market forces of platform models as new change drivers for the digital transformation. What is your opinion on this in regards to the results of your research?

Technologies are evolving fast (big data, AI, …) but especially for B2E technologies, the limiting factor is employee adoption ! Companies don’t have time to deploy, really adopt a tool that it’s already obsolete. We have to move forward to the next generation without having fully collected the benefits of the previous one ! We notice everyday how the corporate world is late in terms of digital usages compared to the real world. This being said, adding AI to social & collaboration usages represent a huge potential and many possible applications. Especially for HR and Comms : interpreting the social graph, understanding trending topics into the organization, detecting leaders, suggesting really significant content to employees.

AI will introduce predictive analysis. Predicting the success of a community, of a project, of solving a given problem for instance. I hope it will not lead to the translation of minority report scenario to the entreprise : predicting employees success or failure !

8) What are your expectations for the Enterprise Digital SUMMIT?

Have fun, network with colleagues, meet practicioners, learn from great case studies, and sense how digital transformation is progressing !