During the first edition of Innovation Day on April 18th, a panel discussion called "CxO Vs Chief Innovation Officer The new normal" was held. The panellists took this opportunity to discuss this new position and role in the management of companies.
Under the moderation of Emilie Prodent, Senior Manager at KPMG Luxembourg, the panellists Bruno Wozniak (Chief Innovation Officer, Cargolux), Katty Conrard (Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives, RBC), Cédric Rochet (Chief Innocation Officer, Bâloise Assurances), and Nabil Meziani (Chief Product Officer and Chief Technology Officer, Rakuten Europe Bank) discussed the new role of Chief Innovation Officer to know more about the title and its functions compared to similar positions. For Bruno Wozniak, who was CIO until a strategic review one year ago, there was no clear mandate and everything about the job was to be invented. The main difference is that people associate innovation with digital and therefore IT services, when the impact is different. He now meets with people and communicates a lot more than in his previous position. For Nabil Meziani, innovation should be the concern of every employee. Some may be afraid of change, but innovation is differentiation and therefore value. Companies have to integrate it to their DNA, their culture.
Katty Conrard, on the other hand, explained how the new approach at RBC came from the CEO, with a VP in charge of innovation, who then had to convince every employee with a lot of trainings and some PoCs but also with programs to mix teams and work in an agile way, because agility is the first step towards innovation. Then, Cédric Rochet detailed how Bâloise started as a small company and innovated from the beginning. He explained that the main points are the follow-up after a project so bad habits don't come back and mindsets change permanently, to scale up the number of initiatives, to try things knowing well that some will fail, while also focusing on some trends because the topic is wide.
All agreed that the title or the person doesn't matter half as much as the engagement of employees and leadership. Also, companies need to accept that some projects will fail because there are ways to test ideas with small budgets, just enough process and structure. To conclude, they answered questions from the audience on their job. The final point was that most of the times, the focus should be on what a company wants to achieve instead of on a technology – or putting "why" before "how" – while still keeping a close eye on some big trends and new technologies coming.