Setting Up a Digital Proof-of-Concept Factory Initiative

 Setting Up a Digital Proof-of-Concept Factory initiative

Hamilton MannDirector, Digital Marketing
and Digital Transformation at Thales Group

Digital Transformation is a crucial topic for companies in today’s rapidly changing and complex environment. Beyond the technologies, digital transformation is about a huge change in culture. That’s why, in 2016, we decided to launch our first Digital PoC (Proof of Concept) Factory in order to accelerate the Digital Cultural change in Thales.This Group-worldwide initiative aims at accelerating our Digital Transformation and putting an emphasis on bringing to life the benefits of digital by quickly transforming great ideas into concrete proof, demonstrating that new digital concepts can be implemented. In addition we can offer concrete value which will take shape and evolve into viable products and services.Participation has been beyond our expectation: this major initiative has brought together all the Thales Group's business areas on every continent.

For this first Digital PoC Factory 221 digital PoC ideas were initially submitted by mid-May and early June. The Thales Group Digital Transformation Office pre-selected 92 PoCs. The teams used the rest of the summer period to work on their respective projects. And by the end of September, 52 teams presented the results of their work during what we call the “Thales Pitch Day”.This first Pitch Day was such a collective performance, leveraging various meeting formats (on-site, videoconferencing and both of them), taking place simultaneously in 3 Thales locations, welcoming 200 participants, mobilizing all parts of the Thales matrix and all set up with the precious help of many Thalesians.Some very promising results were delivered and highlighted by the teams, very much in alignment with our Thales Digital Transformation focus areas.Considering the Top ranked PoCs based on the selection criteria, we ended up selecting 5 PoCs Digital Transformative Initiatives + 1, the Thales Digital PoC Factory itself, and a portfolio of 21 Digital Initiatives to be incubated and nurtured at a Corporate level for some of them, or at Global Business Unit levels for others.

A few key points and lessons learnt so far:

A Digital PoC Factory initiative is a strong catalyst in order to develop the “test-and-learn” mindset and enhance agility beyond internal processes under time and resource constraints, by conducting quick, inexpensive experiments to gain valuable insights.

The approach established to run the Digital PoC Factory provides the opportunity to leverage internal existing digital assets by challenging the ability to make the best use of them.

The constitution of the Digital PoC Teams is a great opportunity to reveal digital champions, empower people, perform through cooperation across organizational boundaries and encourage cross-functional collaboration by flattening hierarchies. It allows us to build productive environments to generate new ideas and, above all, to unleash a tremendous creative potential at another level.

Digital PoC Projects are a key lever to put the emphasis on game-changing ideas and challenge conventional wisdom/thinking and well-established and/or existing rules of the game, by reexamining ways of doing business, further understanding where the new frontiers of value are, de-segmenting our current view of the market, and rethinking how to use new capabilities to improve how customers are served, while getting some real stuff done.

The Digital PoC Factory journey is the opportunity to develop and strengthen more connections with the outside world in order to stay in touch with the best expertise & practices. It helps to foster a "get-out-of-the-building" mindset to not reinvent the wheel.

The Pitch exercise is a tangible vector of the digital cultural change. It helps to develop storytelling skills. In addition, it anchors new conversations focusing on the value proposition created while pitching the value, not the features, and being more and more obsessed about solving the problems of our customers and our non-customers.

The video pitch format is a great way of showcasing the benefits of an idea. We've all seen a video that has gone viral on Facebook, YouTube, etc. Having video pitch format creates a viral loop which maximizes the exposure of the work that has been done by the PoC teams in a way that could not have been achieved with a PowerPoint presentation.

The outcomes of the teams will make up a productive learning platform to share and discuss the concrete benefits of going digital while considering the main challenges to be addressed with a view to potential deployment in mind.Finally, setting up a first Digital PoC Factory is a Proof of Concept project in itself!

Throughout this journey we experimented with new ways of working by trying new things, fostering open collaboration and cultivating a "Fail fast, fail cheap, fail often" culture by building agility, speed and experiential data.Therefore, we have decided to run a 2nd edition of the Thales Digital PoC Factory this year. We are convinced it will indeed continue to help us accelerate our digital cultural change which is key to our success in Digital and unleash the collective genius of Thales’s employees throughout the Group to serve our customers all over the world.In closing, I would like to quote something that I read a few years ago and that has become a source of inspiration for me. It was written by Rob Siltanen and Lee Clow (made popular by Apple) and it illustrates in a meaningful way the premise behind the digital cultural change: make the impossible possible.

"Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do"

Subscribe to Industry Era