Imagine a checklist of some of the biggest challenges a Chief Digital Officer can face.
Renault’s Patrick Hoffstetter has probably been dealing with all of them since becoming CDO at the French automaker in 2011:
- Bringing innovation to a 116 year-old legacy organization
- Implementing digital transformation to a network of 120,000 employees in 118 countries
- Administering a unified digital strategy in the 4th largest automotive group in the world
- Staying competitive in the midst of digital disruption affecting every part of the business
Hoffstetter’s success in overcoming these challenges resulted in him being named the first EU Chief Digital Officer of the Year 2015 by the CDO Club.
He was announced as the recipient of the award during the inaugural EU CDO Summit on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 at the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Hoffstetter presented a keynote at the event describing some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, titled “Digital Transformation in the Auto Industry and Large, Traditional Corporations.”
He is the director of the Digital Factory, a special unit located at the group’s headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, in charge of coordinating all the firm’s digital activities. He is also the cofounder of the eG10 Chief Digital Officer network and founder of NewMedia360.
Chief Digital Officers in the automotive industry or in large organizations should understand the issues discussed by Hoffstetter and consider some of the solutions implemented by him at Renault.
Three Actor Strategy
“The way we used to do business was to build the car, sell the car to the dealers, and the dealers would handle the rest of the business,” Hoffstetter explained.
“Now we need to look on the impact of digital not just on the customer, but internally on the employees, and also on the dealer.”
He said there is often a gap between the overall digital strategy of the organization and what customers experience at distributors or dealerships.
“All three actors need to move at the same speed.”
Under his tenure as CDO, Renault copied a page from Apple’s Genius Bar by equipping its sales staff and garages with tablets integrated with customer and product information.
Revolution of the Purchase Funnel
“Another challenge is the increasing number of touchpoints,” Hoffstetter noted. “The customer is changing and is changing very rapidly.”
The purchase funnel in the automotive world has become increasingly complex. 83% of customers research their car online before going to the dealer, for example, and the digitalization of the product itself has created another touchpoint.
“One specificity of the car industry is that, with the connected car, we now have what I call the 6th screen.”
Many organizations still have a simplistic view of the purchase funnel, Hoffstetter said, because they wrongly believe that the customer journey always starts online and then goes offline as they enter the dealership.
Research by Renault has shown otherwise.
“In fact the whole purchase funnel is going back and forth between offline and online, which is a big challenge for us and our distribution network,” he said.
“The customer is expecting that you have got 360-degree vision on his needs and information.”
Big Data Meets Big Auto
“Thank God it’s now digital: we will finally be able to track!” exclaimed Hoffstetter.
“Renault used to spend nearly half a billion on TV advertising with few ways to actually measure the real impact of an additional one million Euro spent in TV.”
Digitally tracking and adjusting marketing campaigns is especially crucial to automakers today because brand loyalty has decreased drastically in the face of increasing options.
“Historically people in Europe had four brands in mind when they were just starting their purchase consideration, now thanks to digital they have got six.”
“The number of brand switchers has dramatically increased in Europe to 50%, and it’s even worse in the U.S.”
Building Noah’s Ark
All the disruptive trends described above are compounded by the sheer complexity and scale of an organization as large as the Renault group. The automaker owns three brands: Renault, Dacia (a Romanian car brand), and Renault Samsung Motors in Korea.
They also have three key partners: Renault-Nissan, ABTOVA3, and now Daimler (Mercedes-Benz).
For Hoffstetter the solution was to found the Digital Factory, what he calls “My Noah’s Ark – people coming from communication, sales, product, IT.”
What followed was the global revamping of the digital and CRM ecosystems of both Renault and Nissan. Over 300 websites across the globe were transitioned to a single platform for all six brands of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
The sites now garner over 200 million unique users per year.
Discover Patrick’s successful “4C” strategy, and explore his six important digital trends across sectors and industries, below.
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