The 4 sure-fire keys to a successful digital project

In this time of digital transformation, we have become obliged to carry out projects within a reasonable time to market (TTM), mainly because of the impact a digital project can have on a company’s turnover. Not to mention the increasingly intense competition for both the client and the service provider. So what might affect this time to market and cause a project to fail? Allow me to share the 4 keys to an effective project with you. 

 

The project usually begins well. You prepare the specification, then you tackle the developments, and lastly there’s the testing phase before production begins. And then, all manner of bugs start to pile up and the delivery deadline is fast approaching. You start making corrections and try to get on with it quickly, but new bugs are created. On the delivery day or very shortly before, you’re forced to put back delivery to another date. 

The solution for avoiding this situation consists of 4 key elements: definition of the scope, planning, execution and testing.  

 

Element 1: the scope  

It defines everything which must be in the project and everything which is not part of it. It is essential that you are aware of all the tasks involved if you are to finish a project. If not, requirements will pile up and the completion date will be continuously put back.  

To make this scope clearer, you need to follow two essential steps: modelling and the drafting of the specifications.  

  • Modelling of the web, mobile or other application is the representation of a suite of screens which simulate browsing and using the application. This will help to highlight the different options possible. This should be carried out in collaboration with the client, validator or person requesting improvements. So the client will have a clearer idea of their project and feel secure in the knowledge that they have the same understanding as the project team.  
  • The drafting of the specifications involves providing full details of each of these screens, as well as the different management policies. 

Describing the project in detail at the outset avoids further work at the end. 

 

Planning

Project scope planning is the 2nd key to success. 

The scope must firstly be divided into independent features which can be deployed into production separately. These features should be divided into two categories: “Must have” and “Nice to have”. The “must haves” are obviously of higher priority and should be executed first.  

By planning in this way, you can avoid the tunnel effect during a project and roll it out gradually. The client might decide to put a version into production at any time, rather than wait until the end of the project.  

The planning should allow for a fast production launch  

 

Execution 

It is now time to implement the planned features in line with the models and management policies. But how should this be done? I think it’s better if the team organises itself to determine what each member of the team will do. By choosing for themselves, the team members will be more motivated to carry out their particular tasks. 

The time spent on each feature is also estimated by the team, keeping to reasonable deadlines. Obviously, estimates can be imposed, but that will lead to a quick and dirty approach which will increase the number of bugs during testing and affect quality.  

Each feature must be well defined and accompanied by the associated testing plan to make the work required clearer and ensure that certain management policies are not misinterpreted or forgotten.  

Each feature created must be ready to be put into production without having to wait for the project’s other features to be completed. It is a good idea to have all features accessible from a dashboard or a chart so the whole team can see how the project is progressing.   

If all these elements are in place, the team will maintain a good rate of progress, and feel comfortable, motivated and committed. 

A committed team finishes its project quickly and appropriately.   

 

The quality of the project 

You must obviously ensure that the product delivered corresponds to the models and specifications prepared when defining the scope, and that there are no discrepancies. The better the quality of the project, the closer you are to completing it.  

This goal can be achieved by the developers and the quality team. At the beginning of the project, the quality team should prepare the test plan based on the specifications.  This plan will have to be implemented on the completion of each feature to ensure that it is ready for deployment. This avoids having to test everything at the end and encountering bugs which disrupt the testing phase.  

The development team also has an important quality assurance role in the project. Firstly, by creating the features in line with the specifications and models. Then, by developing automated tests which are carried out on the completion of each feature or bug correction.  These automated tests are essential because they will reduce the amount of work required during the testing phase and avoid any potential setbacks.  

A good-quality project is a project which can be put into production immediately  

 

We’ve just had a look at the key success factors around which I base all projects. There may be others (including purely technical success factors – technical architecture, the organisation of the code, code quality monitoring tools…), but the ones outlined here are the key success factors to focus on! 

From medicine to telemedicine: how is digital technology changing healthcare?

With the evolution of technology (digital, Big Data, the development of applications, uberisation and more), several sectors have undergone, and are still undergoing, profound changes. The healthcare and medical sector is no exception. 

 

The digitisation of medicine – the early days 

In 1998, the introduction of the first version of the Carte Vitale health insurance card in France marked the first step towards digitisation. The Carte Vitale offered everyone (patients and healthcare professionals) a means of filling in their health treatment forms and submitting them to the health insurance fund online and, at the same time, provided a way to speed up healthcare reimbursements.

More recently during this digitisation process, we have seen the introduction of the DMP (dossier médical partagé) shared medical record by the health insurance firm. The DMP is the equivalent of a digital health record designed to store and protect health-related information (treatments, test results, allergies, etc.) online and enable it to be shared with healthcare professionals.  

But, in my opinion, what really transformed the practice of medicine and access to healthcare was the implementation by the French government of a legal framework for telemedicine, through article 78 of act no. 2009-879 of 21 July 2009, the Hospital, Patients, Health and Territories (HPST) act. 

What is telemedicine? 

According to the articles of the act, telemedicine is “the practice of medicine using new information and communication technologies”. This is distance medicine, which allows healthcare professionals to connect with one another or connect directly with their patients.
 

Five telemedicine situations are set out in decree no. 2010-1229 of 19 October 2010: 

  • Medical assessment and triage, which we are familiar with in France through the ‘15’ emergency medical service. A doctor makes an initial diagnosis of the patient’s condition and then directs him or her to the most appropriate care. This is usually done over the telephone. More recently, however, the free “MY 15” mobile application offers: 
  • Direct contact with the emergency department 
  • Geolocation with accuracy better than 10 metres  
  • The possibility of sending photos, if the triage doctor in the emergency department requests them, to make a better assessment of the severity of the situation. 
  • Access to the medical record and the inclusion of photos and personal information relating to the patient’s specific situation, as well as administrative information (identity details, telephone number, name of patient’s doctor…).
  • Teleconsultation, which enables patients (alone or accompanied by healthcare professionals) to consult a doctor remotely by means of technological tools. The doctor can also carry out a global assessment of the patient by telephone, video call or email, and make a diagnosis. Thanks to dedicated websites and mobile applications, patients have easy access to a doctor, and healthcare professionals have more flexibility in the way they work.
  • Tele-expertise, which allows a medical professional to seek the opinion of one or more doctors remotely via information and communication technology. It is primarily a medical consultation and is asynchronous (there is no communication between the patient and the doctor). It involves two doctors during or after an initial consultation. 
  • Telemonitoring, which enables a medical professional to interpret, remotely and in real time, data collected in the patient’s living environment. This practice is becoming increasingly common thanks to the IoT and the development of connected medical devices, which may in the future give the elderly greater independence and potentially free up hospital beds.
  • Teleassistance, which is designed to allow a medical professional to assist another health professional as he or she performs a procedure. The most striking example was the Lindergh operation in 2001, which involved a patient at Strasbourg University Hospital having her gall bladder removed by a surgeon who was in New York. 

With developments in communications, and faster speeds with 5G, these methods are becoming more common. We are already seeing a change in the patient-doctor relationship, and with an ageing population, the increasing accessibility of the smartphone and connected objects (connected medical devices), along with the data boom, opportunities for innovation in the healthcare sector are huge. According to Grand View Research, investment could reach 410 billion dollars in 2022.  

How can a progressive web app benefit e-commerce?

The smartphone is the device of choice for large numbers of users around the world. However, network coverage and data availability are still variable and so there are considerable disparities in mobile phone use. While in Europe, YouTube and Netflix account for 30% and 23% respectively of bandwidth consumption, emerging countries have to manage with weaker network performance, while the mobile phone remains the main access point to the internet for their inhabitants. In 2015, Google introduced a new development “standard” to address this issue: the Progressive Web Application (PWA). What are the three main benefits for websites, in an e-commerce context?  

A Progressive Web Application is an application which can be accessed from a simple browser and no longer only through the app store. This means that a website can offer an experience similar to that offered by a native or mobile application. What makes it unique is that it uses a manifest, which means that the site can be installed on a mobile phone without going through an app store, and service workers, which means it can operate on a basic level in the event of network failure and offer a better user experience. 

 

Faster speed 

According to Google, 53% of users leave a page if it does not load within 3 seconds. On a PWA site, content download has been optimised to guarantee good display performance. The cache system has also been designed to update only the element or elements modified since the user’s last visit. Even with a very weak network, Google cuts download time and guarantees a faster and smoother browsing experience.  

According to a case study by Forbes, the page load time before the move to PWA was between 3 and 12 seconds. Now, with the new architecture, the load time is 0.8 seconds! AliExpress announced as early as 2016 that the number of visits to the pages of its website had doubled, browsing time had risen by 74%, and the conversion rate had increased by 104%. Alibaba had noted a 76% increase in its conversion rate and Uber was offering users the possibility of booking a ride through a 2G network.  

As a result of the optimisation of load times, the reduction in the bounce rate and the increase in the number of pages viewed, brands observed another direct benefit: better natural referencing. 

 

Improved reliability 

 

The architecture of a PWA offers a seamless user experience. The PWA can operate on a basic level, even in the event of network failure, and therefore enables users to do certain things, such as post a tweet which will be published when the connection is restored. 

In the e-commerce context, this advantage is twofold: users can log in even when offline, and losses are reduced when users place an order when the network is back up. 

 

A stronger commitment  

The  unique selling proposition involves providing a user experience as close as possible to that offered by a mobile application whose main advantages are that it can:  

  • Offer a full-screen display for a more immersive experience 
  • Create an abridged version of the brand’s website which is accessible directly from smartphones 
  • Implement a notification strategy to boost the number of return visits to the site and secure customer loyalty 

 

Thanks to push notifications, Lancôme, for example, noted a 17% rise in its conversion rate in 2017 and an 8% increase in recovered baskets. 

In spite of their incontestable results, PWA sites are still rare in the digital landscape. As this standard is supported by just one player, Google, its adoption has been restricted. Until recently, it was not possible to offer the same experience to all users using operating systems and web browsers. Microsoft, Apple and other players have now changed their strategies and are increasingly working with this architecture.  

And what if we look even further into the future? The smartphone is an information aggregator; being able to interact with this information in a more native way would allow brands to open up a whole raft of possibilities through their sites. So users could access calendars of future private sales, or even carry out transactions with a single click by using payment APIs. PWA is a goldmine whose potential is crying out to be tapped by brands!   

 

CES 2020: the best innovations 

Maxime Thubière and I were special envoys from SQLI at the CES trade show in Las Vegas this year. As a follow-up to our previous article, I’d like to relive our visit and share all our discoveries with you. 

 

The opening of the CES: Samsung really got the ball rolling! 

 Day 1 featured a keynote speech by the Korean giant, which presented its Ballie. This assistant, which is no longer actually virtual as it takes the form of a ball which follows you around, can look out of the window to see what the weather’s like, activate the vacuum cleaner if it sees something that needs cleaning up, keep an eye on the house and the family, or even check your yoga poses (!)…other applications still remain to be seen, and it is somewhat surprising that Samsung didn’t mention home control applications (lights, smart plugs, roller shutters…).  

In the realm of smart home technology, Samsung presented its smart fridge which can look at what’s in it, suggest recipes and… then make them using its articulated arms! What we saw was the Robot Chef. Although it promises wonderful possibilities in the future, the demo only included cutting tofu and pouring sauces and dressings into a salad bowl (this did, however, involve opening a cupboard to take out some sauce, which is pretty impressive!). The demonstrator performed all the other steps in the guided recipe. The fridge even has a ”growing station“ which can grow fruit and vegetables. 

Growing station

 

The other major trend discussed was the smart city, including the smart building solution. The special demonstration showcased the traffic control project made possible by 5G technology: the city communicates with vehicles and vulnerable pedestrians. 

 

Smart cities

 

Delta Airlines takes us up, up and away 

The airline has come up with lots of great innovative ideas to reduce travellers’ stress, and there is already one technology which seems to show great promise: Parallel Reality. A single screen can display personalised information for several viewers at once!  

So we made a beeline for their stand, where we watched a live demo that was… simply breath-taking! It began in one room with a first screen on which they showed us that, as we moved from one place to another, we could see different information on the screen. This was demonstrated using a set of mirrors. We then went into another room where, after scanning the QR code of a boarding card with our name on it, the screen showed each of us our name, destination and departure gate – and it still worked as we moved around the room! We were among the first 100 people in the world to test this technology and it’s undoubtedly THE innovation of CES 2020 

Delta airlines

Smart or bust 

There were many players who seized on the two big themes of the smart home and smart cities. Here are those that particularly caught our attention. 

Smart home  

Starting with French innovations, Legrand is focusing on the smart electrical panel and a smart door lock for increased security in the home.  

Legrand

 

At the CareOS stand, we tried their smart mirror which can understand voice commands, recognise faces and objects, analyse skin and allow users to try products in real time, and even play the role of a coach (water-saving and fitness, among other things) … these are just a few examples of the many potential applications in the home and in retail premises. It has already scored some notable successes and established a number of partnerships (such as with Pierre Fabre)! 

Careos

 

Another smart mirror, from Lululab, analyses faces and can suggest suitable cosmetic products. 

Google is also a dependable player in the smart home industry with its products and ecosystem of compatible partners (yes, there are some!), which rivals that of Amazon. 

Google

Smart cities 

In addition to the Samsung project, car manufacturers are also among the leaders in this area. Toyota promoted its Woven City (mentioned in our previous article). We were equally impressed by Hyundai’s hub concept which involves a heliport on the roof. Hyundai, in partnership with Uber, is also offering the UAM S-A1 personal air vehicle which will be able to land at the heliport. Autonomous shuttles dock at the hub and offer public and private transport, apartments, food trucks, wireless electric charging points or healthcare facilities… I like this hub idea because it can be integrated into an existing city. 

In addition, we picked out Ekin, which produces a device known as the Spotter. It includes various modules: air quality, weather conditions, speed monitoring, number plate recognition, video surveillance… along withNoTraffic, which produces an autonomous traffic management platform. 

 

Retail and e-commerce also in the spotlight at the CES 2020 

There were also a number of innovations for retail and e-commerce players. In the French Tech pavilion, we tried one of them, Retail VR, a solution which allows users to wander around a shop in virtual reality. We tested a 3D immersive e-shopping experience for Nespresso.  

Scanblue

 

Scanblue, which creates 3D models of physical products for use in augmented reality or virtual reality, is similar to Retail VR.  

We then came across personalisation concepts: Aetrex, which creates 3D models of feet and uses them to produce personalised soles, and Talamoos, which makes an AI-based prediction platform that provides personalisation and recommendations (furthermore, they gave us a demonstration of their solution on an on-demand video platform similar to Netflix). 

Finally, Wag.travel produces a personalisation solution for optimising the conversion of visitors to travel-related e-commerce sites into buyers… 

 

This is just a selection of what we saw. We also reported on innovations in many other areas: the automotive industry, fintech, collaborative projects, green technology, multimedia and healthcare – all of which we would be happy to discuss. 

 

The art of an effective crowdfunding campaign

Crowdfunding offers a way of raising funds for all sorts of projects. Backers can collectively and directly fund a commercial, artistic or charitable initiative that is close to their hearts. On paper, running a crowdfunding campaign looks like a doddle. In reality, it’s anything but. Read on for a short guide to successfully navigating the world of crowdfunding and avoiding common pitfalls.  

The world’s first crowdfunding campaign dates back to 1875, when a call went out for donations to fund the construction of the Statue of Liberty. 160,000 backers from the United States and France took up the call and, in doing so, helped cement the bond of friendship between their two countries. Ten years later, Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia was similarly built using only funds raised from anonymous donors. Today, this form of fundraising has become much more widely accessible thanks to specialist websites that aim to connect projects with potential backers. Transactions are carried out online, without the need for an intermediary, creating a new form of financing that complements conventional solutions. 

Crowdfunding: making investment accessible to all 

 Crowdfunding is aimed at project creators – entrepreneurs, artists, charities and individuals – who need money to make their projects a reality. If needed, it can be used in addition to a more traditional financing solution. It is also an excellent means of communicating about a project and building a (vital) community of backers. 

Most crowdfunding initiatives set funding goals that offer different returns on investment. Creators set an initial goal that must be reached for the project to go ahead. Once this amount has been raised, stretch goals allow them to raise additional funds and offer extras for each additional goal that is reached. For example, a creator wishing to self-publish a book might set an initial funding goal of €5,000 to write and publish their book. They might then choose to set a stretch goal of €5,500 for the book to have a hard cover and another of €6,000 to have a colour illustration on the cover. This system helps mobilise initial investors early on, as they have an interest in spreading the word about the project to ensure it achieves as many of its goals as possible. 

In France, the amount raised through crowdfunding increased from €167 million in 2015 to €401.7 million in 2018 [source: Financement Participatif France]. Three platforms dominate France’s crowdfunding market: Kickstarter (a generalist platform set up in the United States in 2012), Ulule (focused on media and gaming) and Kisskissbankbank (for creative or unconventional projects). It is worth noting the recent launch of the “Portail du Crowdfunding” (“Crowdfunding Portal”) website, which aims to help project creators find the digital platform best suited to their needs – a very helpful resource when it comes to navigating the complex world of crowdfunding. 

Communications that go like clockwork: the bedrock of a successful crowdfunding campaign 

Start-ups and innovative businesses regularly turn to crowdfunding, often in addition to more conventional sources of financing (such as banks or business angels). Here, once again, crowdfunding campaigns are a good way to communicate and test potential customers’ take-up of an innovative product or service. Launching and running a crowdfunding campaign is a challenge that requires plenty of preparation. 

  • A mature project: the product or service to be funded must be ready for development. It can’t just be at the stage of being a good idea, as uncertainty over whether it will ever become a reality can put investors off. Backers need to feel that the funding being sought is the final step in the process of finalising the project, and that the project will definitely come to fruition. 
  • A clear funding goal: a clearly defined funding goal and stretch goals offering exciting returns is key. Your goal must be realistic to avoid putting off “early bird” backers. It’s worth appealing to this type of backer by offering a limited number of specific rewards that are only available to those who back a project early on. 
  • An attractive landing page: your campaign’s landing page on your chosen crowdfunding platform should be carefully and stylishly designed. For example, a video, high-quality images and the story behind your project will all help draw people in. It’s worth creating a working prototype or an original, eye-catching demo. Backers have to be blown away by your project and convinced that it is worth funding as soon as they set eyes on it. 
  • An engaged network: friends, customers and influencers can all play an important role in your campaign, by sharing your initiatives with their own networks. This “snowball effect” is vital in recruiting new ambassadors who will not only back your project, but also spread the word about it. 
  • A well-oiled communications machine: responding to questions and concerns quickly, marketing your project regularly and attracting new investors – in a word, persuading and reassuring backers on a day-to-day basis – is fundamental. You can achieve this through compelling communications initiatives, particularly on social media. It’s worth paying for some advertising at the outset to boost your project’s initial visibility. 

The campaign itself will be a communications “marathon” from start to finish. You will need to come up with regular events to retain existing backers and attract new ones. These might take the form of updates, feedback from beta-testers, a stylish video about the project, mini-games based on sharing via social media, new goals, attending trade fairs in person, mailshots or Facebook ads. When drawing up an action plan for your campaign, it can be helpful to look at similar projects that have been successful and, of course, trust in marketing common sense. 

Once the campaign has ended, it’s time to take stock, particularly if it achieved only modest success or was not successful at all. What went wrong? Was enough preparation done for the launch? Did investment tail off during the campaign? When it comes to crowdfunding – and indeed anything else, for that matter – taking time to reflect on the positives and negatives always offers plenty to learn from. If the campaign is successful, this doesn’t mean you should scale back your communication with backers. Thank them, then keep them updated as the project progresses. And why not offer to meet some of your major backers to demo the product created as a result of the campaign? The aim, once again, is to build loyalty and make backers want more through regular contact. 

Perús: a masterclass in crowdfunding 

 This sneaker start-up has launched four hugely successful crowdfunding campaigns since its foundation in 2015, raising a total of €390,000 to set up its “TwoShoesForSchool” initiative, which funds one day of school for disadvantaged Peruvian children for every pair of sneakers sold. The company decided to raise the money through crowdfunding to limit the amount it had to borrow from banks, test products before going into production and get a cash advance. The project proved a hit with backers: Perús’ first campaign hit its target of 200 sneaker pre-sales in a single day and a month later reached a pre-order of 2,000 pairs. Since this initial campaign, Perús has diversified and still uses crowdfunding to launch its new products, with every campaign proving a real success. 

Crowdfunding – heir to the patronage of years gone by – is becoming increasingly popular. Its ability to create a direct connection between a project and its backers makes geographical location irrelevant and boosts take-up. Setting up and maintaining a strong community of backers is key to a successful campaign. So, when will you launch yours? 

CES 2020: the human being's experience at the centre of technological innovation

This 53rd annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) gave pride of place to experience, by refocusing debate about technological innovation on human beings and how they can be better connected by monitoring their health, their homes, their environment (urban mobility and travel) and the challenges facing the planet. Check out the four main areas of innovation for 2020 that we observed at the show below. 

 

Health – a primary concern

A plethora of solutions for skin analysis (Miroir Poséidon from CareOS), monitoring heart rate (Binah.ai), stress (Sompo Himawari) and sleep (ScanWatch by Withings) are now making a breakthrough.  

A field of possibilities is opening up before us and is constantly expanding thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (IA) coupled with the myriad sensors and huge amount of data which we already have. It comes as no surprise to see a number of major international players taking an interest in the subject: Amazon has created a “Health” division, Walmart has invested in healthcare clinics and Google acquired Fitbit in late 2019. Once again, individuals face the issue of keeping control of their data. We must remain vigilant! 

Pierre fabre ces

 

Connecting your home to your ecosystem, what you need to know

Centralised platforms for managing and controlling smart homes were the stars of CES 2020, and everyone has their own version; the challenge being how well they can integrate objects in the home and partners from the Smart Home sector. We discovered Panasonic’s AI-boosted Homex platform for customising the smart home experience, and Enki from Leroy Merlin (400+ products and 25 partners), which allows users to set custom scenarios with connected household objects. Also worthy of a mention are Legrand, with its Drivia smart electrical panel, and Netatmo’s smart door lock and keys which don’t need to be connected to the Cloud (because the information is stored in the key). 

Homex ces

 

Seamless urban mobility – the great promise

Now more connected than ever, urban mobility is guided by the idea of having an overview to ensure a seamless experience. The self-driving car could be a game-changer for urban mobility; car and equipment manufacturers are all putting forward their Smart City connected autonomous vehicles, as well as vertical take-off and landing aircraft (Bell’s Air Taxi and Hyundai’s S-HUB). This is all underpinned by computer vision technology based on Lidar (Light – or Laser Imaging – Detection And Ranging; 3D sensors) which is more powerful but still not stylish… the sensors have still not been successfully integrated into vehicles. And taking this a step further, we have Toyota with its plans to build a test citythe Woven City, near Mount Fuji for testing the technologies and practices of tomorrow. 

 

In the field of travelDelta and its partner Msiapplied Science really impressed us with their Parallel Reality technology. This technology has the remarkable ability to display, on a single display board, a personal message for several people at the same time (currently up to 100 people). For example, to show their travel information and guide them around the airport (this concept is being piloted this year in Detroit). We pre-tested it and it’s truly amazing! Parallel Reality is undoubtedly the major innovation of this year’s CES show.  

Tweet ces

Consume smarter, in the great tradition of sustainable development  

Amazon ces

 

In spite of differences of opinion, progress is being made towards sustainable development with a rationale to simplify and streamline the shopping experienceAmazon and its automotive market concept is pretty impressive: in collaboration with its partner ZeroLight, the giant is offering a seamless experience which starts with the configuration of the car in augmented reality. The buyer simply has to confirm their order in 3 clicks; the order is instantly added to the dealers’ Salesforce CRM platform and then delivered to the buyer’s home along with a personal brochure. For its part, LG is offering a mobile-based virtual fitting room solution which uses a top-to-toe scan to create an avatar of the customer. So shoppers no longer need to go to shops to try on clothes. 

In the realm of sustainable food, the start-up Impossible Foods is back this year with its burger 2.0, a burger that tastes like meat but which doesn’t actually contain any (and it’s not bad…), and myFood exhibited a complete smart greenhouse solution for growing plants and vegetables in cities. To help us avoid wasting drinking water, Hydraloop is offering a patented system for recycling 85% of household water (for the shower, toilet or even the washing machine). And finally, 20tree.ai has increased our understanding of the planet by applying AI to satellite imagery. Therefore it is now possible to observe the quantity and quality of natural resources, biomass, carbon sequestration and threats such as forest fires, and deforestation. This data is then made available to financial institutions, businesses and governments via a platform and an API, (Application Programming Interfaceso they can have information about every square metre of land on earth in real time.  

 

To sum up, this latest edition of the CES show was full of pleasant surprises, particularly Delta and Parallel Reality. We look forward to seeing how it will be put into practice and what will be learned from it. We were a bit disappointed by the automotive section, which did not have many new developments to offer, but which is nevertheless still trying to link up with the Smart City.  

 

 

Maxime Thubiere, Innovation Consultant and Arnaud Vatin, Technical Project Manager 

How digital learning can enhance uptake of business solutions

Complex business solutions are often costly and time-consuming to design, while their deployment is critical. Even when projects run smoothly, there is no certainty that the solutions will be adopted by users within the organisation.  It is therefore a good idea to plan support for employees from the outset in order to secure your business and investment.

 

The textbook case of unused business solutions

Incorrect use of business tools by teams is a common occurrence. For example, a few years ago, a major industrial player invested several million euros in a business solution to manage planning and production on a hundred or so sites around the world. Users had been provided with training and change management was adequate. However, following deployment, users found themselves alone faced with a tool that they did not understand and did not trust.

Over the months, use of the tool dropped and users switched back to Excel to perform their tasks. Over the years, the situation became critical: the solution had been deployed on nearly 50 sites, but usage indicators continued to decline, with the end result being that the initial investment was much less profitable than expected.

 

No problem: I have user documentation!

This is a good start! However, you should not count on documentation to ensure that your solutions are adopted. When did you last take the time to read the documentation for a product? Did you find that it met your needs?

Like you, all employees use digital tools on a daily basis. The best way to get them involved is to design interactive media that reflects their uses. The advantage of digital learning is that it can offer a range of solutions suited to all types of problems, at a reasonable cost given the benefits it brings.

Solutions to secure your investment

In many cases, digital learning can help you secure the deployment of your business tool and make your investment profitable.

#1 Users don’t fully understand the tool

This is certainly the most difficult case to manage, as it is difficult to detect. In this situation, employees may use the tool reasonably well, while not understanding the processes at work in the background. They have lost sight of the objective of the task they are completing, sometimes on a daily basis, which will end up having a negative impact on their motivation and productivity.

To help them, an e-learning module that is not directly related to their activities can be a good idea. Re-explain the process at work to them, by taking an example that is easy to understand, based on an everyday activity or a common consumer product. Enhance your module with fun activities that allow them to play with the mechanics of your tool.

#2 Users don’t trust the tool

In this case, employees have used the tool, but, for various reasons, do not trust it and no longer use it. In this case, it is essential to help them understand how the tool increases productivity.

For example, in order to increase adoption of its new workstation, a company in the banking sector gathered feedback from users in branches where a pilot version was deployed. During various webinars, employees explained the benefits gained by using the tool and shared various good practices. At the same time, a user community was created to allow users to share good practices and answer questions, based on a social learning model.

#3 Employees do not see the point of having a new tool

In this case, it may be that the currently used solution suits them perfectly. Or, worse, there is no perceived lack of a solution.

In this case, you can create a software simulation of the solution and organise a fun challenge related to its use. This can be complemented by communication based on motion design in order to gradually attract interest in the tool.

To enhance the overall training experience, you can also think about directly linking your business tool to a dynamic knowledge base, or a chatbot integrated in the tool, which can answer users’ questions and provide them with suitable resources.

 

Design a system suited to your business

In order to design the system, here are five key steps to ensure that the training experience you plan to provide will meet its objectives:

  1. Explore needs through workshops, in order to define business challenges, establish standard profiles and identify users’ pain points.
  2. Along with your users, imagine the most relevant training experience in terms of content, format and educational approach, so that it is rapidly adopted.
  3. Produce your training system by creating all of its content.
  4. Deploy the system and ensure its adoption, by integrating it directly in your business tools, designing effective communication and providing responsive support.
  5. Monitor performance of the system and adjust it according to feedback from the ground.

 

Such an approach does require significant human and financial investment. But do your business solutions not deserve this?

Identity and e-commerce: 4 developments for brands to expect

A study carried out by Stanford University confirms that digital identity has become a core issue in terms of new practices. In an omnichannel experience, where the notion of location is secondary to that of a smooth journey, identity management can fast become a stumbling block. 

The increasing introduction of standards regulating management of digital identities, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) in Europe, is obliging brands to rethink or improve the way they manage identities and their protection, as well as tools deployed in the service of consumers. In order to achieve this, brands must focus on four developments to be expected.

1. Means of Authentication

The implementation of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA), required by the FIDO Alliance and PSD2, is certainly the most challenging change for commercial and financial exchange platforms. 

Market researcher 451 Research has found that many companies are not entirely aware of the impact of SCA. “Our survey shows that companies are not properly prepared, and what is even more worrying is that they don’t fully appreciate the way in which SCA will transform online purchasing for European consumers,” says Jordan McKee, an analyst who works for the firm. 

This authentication means brands need to rethink the experience so as to take into account both the device being used and its biometric capacities. There are several possible scenarios depending on your users’ level of knowledge, and the software architecture you have. This architecture will, however, need to evolve to include new trusted third parties to manage the authentication process, new biometric capacities, and data collection in accordance with the GDPR. 

2. Personalisation of the user experience

Knowledge of the customer is essential to personalisation and has become the new godsend of any marketing approach. But this knowledge must be able to identify customers, in order to link them to a profile and make their individual experiences unique. 

Platforms that do not comply with these standards will not be able to provide a personalised experience. It is therefore essential to begin integrating these new means of identification as quickly as possible. 

However, it isn’t always necessary to identify the user. Amazon has devised a recommendation system based on the product instead of the customer. By analysing customer paths, the system deduces a chart of inter-related products. Seeing as consumers can be versatile, it makes more sense for Amazon to base their process on products.

3. Simplified payment

Newly simplified payment methods are transforming points of sale and the way purchases are made. Retailers are taking a close look at mobile checkout solutions such as Square and SumUp, or concepts like Amazon Go and SmartShelfSmartShelf technology offers the “Frictionless Shopping” model, in which checkouts are replaced by computer vision. Cameras are linked to artificial intelligence, which analyses videos live. AI identifies consumers and their feelings, and detects both their behaviour and movements, which means it is able to charge customers for the contents of their baskets in real time without them having to go through checkout. 

And this is only the beginning, with the development of facial recognition technology in China. Following in the footsteps of Sephora, Carrefour recently inaugurated its new French-style concept store on the famous Wangfujing Street in Beijing. It includes numerous innovations, in particular payment through facial recognition: a system launched in April 2019 in its 210 hypermarkets in China, in partnership with Tencent via WeChat. 

Caution is still required, however. Facebook Messenger’s experience in Europe shows that some methods of payment simply do not appeal to users. Furthermore, although the GDPR and PSD2 bring more security, they also make the payment process more complicated, which is what Facebook found daunting in its experiment. The act of paying for something is still seen as sacred in Europe. 

4. Digital identity versus civil identity

Digital transformation is leading us into a digitised world that boasts lots of services and products, in which our digital identity will be as strong as our ID documents, thanks to technology and regulations that will make it unique and forgery-proof. 

Le Vote, Orange’s Civic Tech start-up, is using digital identity to provide a solution for municipalities that wish to consult their citizens in local matters. The solution includes a website for elected representatives and a mobile application for citizens based on blockchain technology, to guarantee the security of polling. Le Vote is already in use in several municipalities in France, and will soon be available at international level. 

It is easy to imagine that approaches to the economy, performance and productivity will quicken the pace of this digital transformation. It will become increasingly difficult to do without a digital identity, whether it is to access State services (as in Estonia, where everything is done online) or go about work and everyday life. This transformation is already underway. 

Watch out for an agile hangover!

Agility has become THE watchword for most businesses looking to upgrade their organisation to a more horizontal and collaborative model. As a result, agility has taken a central role in project management. It appeals to young engineers and project managers, attracted by the promises this method gives a glimpse of. But it’s still sometimes misused, often for the wrong reasons and/or under the wrong conditions. All too often, clients confuse agility and iteration, at the risk of seeing their project take a wrong turn or grind to a halt along the way. 

Businesses faced with Canada Dry agility syndrome

Agility is the word on everyone’s lips. We hear things like “our organisation has to be more agile”, and “we have to adopt a more agile approach” every day… BUT, at the risk of disappointing many a project manager, a lot of businesses today aren’t agile. Some might call it “Canada Dry agility” syndrome. It’s got the same colour, taste and shape as agility, but it’s not what it seems. With agility as the end goal, processes are often rushed, and definitions poorly established, causing misunderstandings and confusion from day 1 of the project. The situation runs the risk of quickly deteriorating, driven by the growing frustration of staff drowning in poorly-organised or poorly-led workshops, information irrelevant to their business line, or a much too broad scope of action. The teams don’t understand each other anymore, whereas the aim of agility is to create a common frame of reference for use in project management. Cash continues to be poured in as the teams work on poorly-coordinated, and consequently time-consuming, tasks.
 

Agility or iteration: you have to choose one… and stick to it! 

Every project must start with an essential and crucial stage: asking the client what methodology they want to use. Even though a project combining iteration and agility might still be able to see the light of day by making specific changes, any difference between the methodology used by the client in-house and the methods deployed by the service provider to manage the project will jeopardise the whole affair. If you didn’t manage to or didn’t know how to have this conversation upfront and are now faced with this situation, there are several stages ahead of you to slice through this Gordian knot, starting with the most radical: 

  • Becoming aware of it. If neither the organisation nor the service provider are mature enough to do so, an agile coaching consultant is a good option when given even the slightest sign of going off track. If they arrive at the start of the project, they can put the right processes and methods in place to avoid this situation. If the project has already begun, they can help to raise awareness. 
  • Stopping the project. A necessary and natural step after awareness, stopping the project saves the teams involved time and can prevent a longer-term economic disaster. 
  • Make a decision and stick to it. Once the project is on stand-by, you need to work fast to reorient it and redefine the management principles. For this stage, you should consider your client as a partner, drawing up a new roadmap together and making it as relevant as possible. 

Agility and iteration: different criteria!

Agility must meet a genuine business need. If a business identifies a genuine client-side agility need but the client isn’t organised or mature enough to execute an Agile methodology, checking the prerequisites must form an integral part of the start-up phase, even if that means delaying the launch. These prerequisites include: 

  • The involvement of a genuine client-side Product Owner with real decision-making authority and knowledge of their organisation and the related business lines. 
  • An Agile-qualified Scrum Master and project manager with experience of successfully setting up at least one project. If this condition cannot be met, an Agile coach must be appointed. 
  • A contract covering the agile specifics (organisational and financial). 
  • A clear, informative and unambiguous kick-off meeting attended by all the participants and decision-makers. 
  • Support including, if necessary, a separately-defined consulting budget. 

This does not in any case mean that the iterative methodology is dead, and it would be a mistake to try to switch a full fixed-charge project to the Agile methodology. In this scenario, a clearly-defined iterative model would undoubtedly deliver better results. The Agile methodology must meet a genuine business need. For example, a big-budget client sent us a simple set of specifications, boiled down to one basic idea: “I want to sell my products at the end of the year”. In this scenario, it’s highly likely that the implementation of an agile methodology (meeting the prerequisites) could meet both the project and client needs. Measurement and setup of prerequisites on both sides is essential. If these two worlds clash during a project, it can prove explosive and cause significant financial and interpersonal damage. The teams need to speak the same agile language to move forward. 

The art market - Overview of its digital transformation

When the art market makes headlines, it’s mainly down to jaw-dropping works, venues and prices. But an internet connection offers access to artistic variations and themes from any period. Despite some slight residual resistance to the “digital revolution”, from private galleries to exclusive auctions, the art market has taken the technological path. In just a few years, it has successfully developed a new, increasingly mature version of itself.  

This article is based on the Hiscox reportthe leading art market research paper, and aims to examine the trends in order to enhance the e-retailer’s analysis. 

Growth: a sign of customer digitisation

Worth $1.5 billion back in 2013, the art market has grown significantly, hitting $4.64 billion in 2018. Growth was lower in 2018 than previous years, marking the start of a stabilisation phase. This stabilisation can provide an ideal opportunity to revamp the market, including, for example, greater investment and more measures favouring the development of digitised services, the democratisation of the purchasing of works of art, and even the emergence of new services. One thing is sure, the art market is proving that it meets a marked demand for online accessibility and that consumers are ready. Growth prospects are still good. 

These statements are based on the following behavioural statistics: 

  • Instagram is a happy hunting ground to identify new customers and the place where 65% of art lovers do their window shopping 
  • 29% of generation-Y art buyers prefer buying online 
  • Digital customers are less loyal and more fickle than brick-and-mortar store customers 
  • Mobile is less and less an option to sell well 

From art gallery to digitised gallery

The “storefront” website is now the norm for all galleries, each choosing their level of communication: basic business card, presentation of the gallery’s history and philosophy, or demonstration of its expertise.  It goes without saying, the storefront is the strict minimum. But art galleries are slowly but surely entering the world of e-commerce. A little like luxury brands before them, major galleries are giving e-shops a go. These e-commerce sections added to corporate sites sell tie-in merchandise and books. Is the price an issue? 

Not for serious competitors! A first generation of physical gallery owners decided to opt for more radical change, like Hugo Galerie in New York, Bouillon d’Art in Bordeaux, or the Carré d’Artistes franchised gallery group, to name but a few. 

In the meantime, the keyword “art gallery” reveals fresh competition with excellent search engine positioning. Google is the logical place to start when looking for online art galleries. They explore new approaches, continue to curate works and artists, and set themselves apart. This includes the choice of their slogan. On the one hand, Kazoart facilitates and simplifies art buying through digitisation (“Taking the intimidation out of buying art”), and on the other, Artistics makes contemporary art accessible to all (“Contemporary art is not the privilege of the few”). 

To be a pure player, you have to rework and adapt your services to meet digital consumption needs, offering an optimised user experience, including: 

  • Displaying prices, 90% of new online buyers want transparent art prices; 
  • Visualisation, letting you look at a work as though you were in the same room. In practical terms, this means presenting the work hung or set up near a piece of furniture providing scale 
  • Scenarisation and custom recommendations: virtual galleries make the most of their exhibition spaces to offer a large number of works and, to make it easier to find the right work of art for you, they challenge the limits of ingenuity and technology by proposing selections meeting user expectations as closely as possible. Artificial intelligence is also becoming a subject of interest 
  • The possibility of following an artist, to build and maintain a connection 
  • Private sales, allowing the opportunity to quickly purchase a work of art at an exclusive and temporary price to be exploited 

Online art merchandising also features services recreating what is sometimes possible on the physical market: negotiation (to a reasonable extent), commissioning of artists’ works, and maybe one day live creation? Clearly, there are now many committed companies looking to establish themselves. Some of them have made marketplaces their main line of business. 

Art marketplaces

Some entrepreneurs have decided to propose a space where the depth and breadth of what is on offer is also a service for art traders. The principle of the marketplace is to offer a sales space on a site with high visitor numbers in return for commission on sales, and in some cases, payment for additional services (logistics, financial services, promotion, etc.). 

The virtuous circle of marketplaces is based on their ability to attract a high number of the best sellers. The increased number of works on offer generates more traffic, which attracts even more sellers. This field is highly competitive and unforgiving. Some seem to make a success of it and set themselves apart: internationally, Artsy is the most popular with professionals; in France, it’s Artsper. These businesses have pulled off something quite incredible when you look at the number of galleries and works that they present. 

They are fully committed to their positioning: showcasing galleries and convincing the biggest ones to display prices on their pages (major gallery institutional sites don’t do this). These marketplaces offer access to their traffic and let experts express their talents as sellers. As in other sectors such as fashion (La RedouteSpartoo), the marketplace for works of art will probably prove the most powerful model. Firstly, works of art need an appropriate UX (user experience); Amazon is involved in this general area but not this particular niche, so specialist marketplaces definitely have a role to play. Secondly, digital commerce is very economically engaging; gallery owners and art traders, even though these aren’t digital professions, also benefit from the services provided by a marketplace in terms of infrastructure and traffic generation (large numbers of visitors = large number of potential customers). 

Many traders in other sectors hesitated before realising that synergy with marketplaces existed after all. BUT… Refusing to use these platforms can be a strategic choice, it all depends on the brand / distributor’s positioning and the strength of its customer base. 

The auction, the queen of the art market

Auctions make up the segment of the art market accounting for the majority of financial flows. We all have the image of an auctioneer banging their hammer but this is actually the area where digitisation is moving fastest! 

Professionals distinguish between 2 types of online auctions: 

  • Online sales: like on eBay, buyers bid over a given period; 
  • Live sales: the web version of the telephone bidder seen in some films. The sale and bids start at the same time. 

Live sales are what attract the most interest. They involve a protocol and timing that create emotion, even online! It’s also at these sales that you can see the most incredible works. Live sales have added all the following useful features to auctions: 

  • Product presentation (increasingly qualitative) 
  • Maximum bid programming 
  • Sale start alerts 
  • Live bidding 
  • Live video (in development) 
  • Mobile payment 

You could say that on the art market “content is really king”, and this content is first and foremost the “object” up for auction. The leading auction houses are all involved in the segment: Artprecium, Artcurial, Rossini, Paddle8, and Heritage Auctions, among others. Marketplaces, such as Artsy and Invaluable, which are always looking to promote what they’ve got on offer, have got in on the act, too. 

In France, the business with the biggest market share is Interencheres. This association of 245 French auction houses accounted for 45% of overall national auction sales in 2017, i.e. €1.43 billion. But let’s be clear, it’s inevitable that all auctions will end up on the web given the extent to which the very principle of immediacy is central to both the web and bidding, plus the excellent user experience it provides! In addition, at Interencheres: 

  • The average cart for the Paintings, Furniture and the Art Objects speciality is €350 
  • Branded watches, iconic designers, major 20th-century artists, and famous car brands top the list of the keywords most searched for 
  • 47% of the most regular bidders have been registered on Interencheres Live for less than three years 

The web may even generate “drive-to-auction” (drive-to-store being the Holy Grail for retailers). Growth in live auctions could actually encourage people to head down to the auction house. 

The art market’s digitisation is in full swing, with possible effects on its ecosystem. Some firms are increasingly focused on one area, particularly auctions. Online galleries are multiplying; after all, they’re first and foremost talent spotters. Exponential and immediate increases in artists’ standing are probably to be expected. Imagine, if Bernard Arnaud (the French business magnate) bought the work of an artist sold by a small online gallery, the website’s servers would melt down within 24 hours! 

Experts in transporting works of art like LP Art could develop digitally to seize opportunities (e.g. more non-corporate customers, higher shuttle fill rates). 

Blockchain could be adopted quicker than expected. It secures transactions and allows information to be stored in the most secure way possible. And that’s lucky because one of the biggest fears buyers have is falling for a counterfeit! 

In any case, what’s nice about this market is that it exists only because of and for art; there’ll always be a place for ingenious gallery owners with a knack for discovering fabulous creatives. This digital commerce will doubtlessly develop for the good of art itself.