Highlights of Viva Technology 2019 | École des Ponts Business School

Highlights of Viva Technology 2019

Our Academic Partnership with Viva Technology now permits us to give full access for the three days of the event, to all our current participants and professors as well as discounted rates for our Alumni.

We held a competition and asked all our participants who were going to Viva Tech to share their insights on social media. Congratulations to our winner, Metja Hlogi Matlala, whose article on L’Oréal’s acceleration strategy we’re proud to publish here.

Metja Hlogi Matlala, Full Time MBA, 2020, comes from South Africa and is a Risk Manager – Regulatory Financial Impact and Strategy (Group Finance).

The future of the beauty experience has landed

Viva Technology (VivaTech) is an international rendezvous co-organized by the Publicis Group and Les Echos Group dedicated to spotlighting and facilitating exchanges on technology, startups, digital transformation, and innovation across multiple sectors.

On the VIVA Tech stage last year (2018), the Chief Digital Officier of L’Oréal’ spoke about digital transformation. The high-level two-phased digital transformation mentioned involved:

Putting Digital at the heart of everything at L’Oréal

Inventing the future of the beauty experience

In line with L’Oréal’s digital acceleration strategy, the company acquired tech company ModiFace in Q1 2018. The digital offerings of this move were on display at the L’Oréal exhibition stand last week at the 2019 conference. Innovations powered by voice, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) were showcased. I tried the virtual hairstylist assistant which allows you to use voice command, to try different hair colours and ask a professional assistant for advice. It has neat features such as a before and after image split, ombre, light and darker variations of colour and on-screen tips as you interact with the assistant. This technology was developed using a mixed deep learning model based on two artificial neural networks. These networks are trained to use 220,000 images to recognise the shape and structure of each hair strand, as well as the overall shape of the user’s hair. The result is hair texture and colour that match reality. This experience is fun and effortless and puts one more at ease (it shrinks down the likelihood of post hair colouring choice remorse) thanks to its sharp simulation. The one suggestion I would offer is to improve  the AI to recognise/adapt to a broader variety of accents. This experience is available in an app form. Below see some images from my L’oréal experience at VIVA Tech:

“It is not a struggle at L’Oréal to convince our people; our people believe.”

Looking at Digital at the core of the company, L’Oréal took the opportunity to spotlight careers in digital. The breadth of careers that exist was a revelation for me. I was really curious about how L’Oréal has managed to make digital so pervasive within the company. Talent, Culture and Organisational integration are the often cited key challenges in carrying out digital transformation.


Global Director of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), Noorin Virani was there to speak about the role of CRM and how they leverage data and AI to enhance and enable a more intimate knowledge and ongoing conversation with the consumer. I continued the conversation with her briefly, and this is how it went:

Can you describe digital leadership at L’Oréal?

Leadership is taking the hands of the people in business with you to achieve better. To drive both increased engagement with your consumers and drive better business results. To grow and learn, rescale and upscale your team. Leadership is about showing the way, digital or otherwise.

L’Oréal’s appetite for digital is that of a leader. How has this benefited or added challenges to the business, or perhaps reshaped the role of CRM?

Digital is viewed as a transformation in the company. Digital is not restricted to a central team; it is placed within every part of the business. Every market and each team has digital skillsets which in our view is the only way to lead a successful transformation. We have seen the benefits of managing the transformation in the way that we do. Secondly, we have built communities across our business, and I lead the CRM community. Upskilling is an ongoing effort and particularly in CRM, we try to bring a zone together several times in a year for this purpose. A digital summit for the entire business with all key stakeholders is organised which is another opportunity for upskilling. We perform internal and external analysis and benchmarking and we work with partners.  When we identify an opportunity, we seize it and start to drive it. This action taking is possible because our culture lends itself to this; it is agile.

When it comes to CRM Strategy, is it more informed/driven by Technology or culture?

Given that CRM cuts across so many areas of business, how easy or difficult is it to convince other business areas to adopt CRM solutions?

Technology is a tool. People make the difference. How our business chooses to use technology, how it activates it, how it embraces it; whether we truly believe in something makes the difference between whether something wins or fails. It is not a struggle at L’Oréal to convince our people, our people believe. My role is to set consistency and demystify our goals and metrics.

It is evident that alignment of strategy and culture, along with updated metrics and empowerment of talent contribute to the impressive digital transformation at L’Oréal.

As I leave the stand, the atmosphere is buzzing, omnipresent with curious men and women queuing and snaking around the breadth of the installations.

Note from author:  I had the opportunity to attend the VIVA Technology conference in Paris which took place from 16 -18 May 2019 courtesy of my MBA program at École des Ponts Business School.



Best speech for LC? I was so impressed to hear Justin Trudeau, President Macron, John Kerry, leaders from Africa, entrepreneurs, etc. but for me, the highlight was Jack Ma. He has a way of using storytelling that speaks to everyone. His advice? Listen to your team. Empower them. Collaborate with them. Make your team happy, and your customers will be happy. Listen to your customer, react to them, and learn from them. Jack Ma has a 20-year vision to help support 10M small businesses to be profitable on their platform by the year 2036. Building a digital economy that helps and empowers 100M jobs serving 2 billion consumers in the world

You don’t need a computer, with a simple mobile phone, you are empowered for business, allowing everyone to buy, sell, and deliver globally. You can see Jack Ma and all the speeches for Viva Technology  here


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