An analysis of PSA’s digital strategy and progress so far under chief digital officer, Christophe Rauturier.
PSA says digital change enables the group’s transformation (Photo: PSA)
When PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares launched his “Push to Pass” recovery roadmap in April 2016, he made digitally driven change a key pillar of his growth strategy. “Our digital transformation will make the PSA Group a company connected to its customers,” he said. Two years later, the French automaker has launched a range of new initiatives all using the power of IT to bring the company into the 21st century.
“Digital transformation is not a focus in itself; it’s an enabler of the group’s transformation,” said Christophe Rauturier. The PSA veteran took over as CDO of the company in December 2017. He succeeded Brigitte Canteloube, a Yahoo France executive who joined the company in 2016 but left after little more than a year.
In an interview at PSA headquarters in Paris, Rauturier said digitalization requires action across all divisions of the company. For example, efforts to introduce agile methodologies and the small cross-functional teams that are part and parcel of this approach are spreading from the IT operations to other business areas. But Rauturier conceded that it’s not an easy job to gain company-wide acceptance for a new working paradigm.
With agile development, the sheer size of the automaker causes problems. “Part of the answer lies in proper teamwork, but development teams in the auto industry are huge,” Rauturier said. “Agility comes naturally when you have a company with up to, say, 50 people, but when you’re talking about 200,000 and more it’s another story.”
Still, PSA has in recent years set in motion digital initiatives ranging from the start of online sales in France and the UK to the formation of a small team to work closely with big digital players such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, to the stablishment of a “Customer Digital Factory.”
CEO Tavares wants PSA to be more in touch with its customers, but he also wants his company to move much faster than in the past. That’s happening, said Rauturier, but he also warned that there are limits to how fast car systems can be developed.
“There’s no car manufacturer that can do it faster than in two or three years; that’s just the reality of physics,” he said. Once a new generation of cars runs on architectures that allow connected features to be upgraded easily over the air, that will solve part of the problem, he added, but safety and security will still require validation and testing processes that will take longer than what is customary in the IT industry.
Rauturier works closely with PSA Group CIO Jean-Luc Perrard on digital transformation. “We didn’t want to end up with two IT organizations,” he said. As a result, the IT division is involved in all projects, including those related to data. IT executives had for years been pushing the carmaker to make better use of the customer and vehicle data it had at its disposal. But, said Rauturier, despite many initiatives, there were few success stories.
That’s why in 2017, PSA established a separate, small team with deep data-analysis expertise. The team focused on four areas: sales, after-sales, manufacturing and R&D. The resulting pilot projects included data-based churn prediction in after-sales; how to improve manufacturing quality with the help of sensor data; and how to assist purchasers in setting the right priorities with major tier 1 suppliers. “We selected those projects for their potential impact on fixed costs,” Rauturier said. “This will be the year that we scale up our data initiatives.”
Improving customer relationship management (CRM) is another priority for PSA and the carmaker in April deployed Salesforce in two of its markets: Chile and Poland. Why there? “Home marrkets are not always the simplest markets to start this kind of activity,” Rauturier said. But a wider roll-out of Salesforce is planned for later this year and next year. The initial steps to introduce Salesforce’s trademark mobile information access was only taken in 2017 and PSA, with the help of consultants Capgemini, introduced the system in a mere seven months.
“That’s already a first success,” Rauturier said. The new software will allow PSA sales staff to respond quickly to leads coming from call centers or web sites. It will also provide better and faster access to customer information.
Speeding up internal communication has been another priority for the PSA CDO. Around 20,000 staff inside the group now use Microsoft’s Yammer and Rauturier said it is used more heavily than at many other companies. The next step will be to connect Yammer to other Microsoft tools such as planning and mail software.