For this first edition of Innovation Day, a hundred of digital and innovation experts gathered at KPMG Luxembourg on April 17th to share their views and best practices in this fairly new field for businesses.
Kamel Amroune, CEO of Farvest, opened the event then Vincent Koller, Partner at KPMG talked about the sci-fi story of Luxembourg. As the audit firm celebrates 30 years of presence in Luxembourg, he wanted to share some amazing stories and incredible figures, both for the country and KPMG, with the audience. He proceeded to enlighten how the company is investing a lot in this area and working closely with former people from CERN, maintaining strong partnerships with Microsoft, Google, Amazon and with the accelerators, hubs and incubators. To conclude, he reminded the audience that there are 16.000 asteroids close enough for mining, as Luxembourg has put a legal framework in place to collect materials from space. It is a beautiful story that the country started with the mining of coal and the steel industry. Luxembourg is an amazing country, he said, a success story and we should be proud of it.
After this introduction, the first panel discussion of the day started 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.
How IT companies can help
This first panel was followed by breakout sessions from which attendees had to choose. The first one was introduced by special guest speaker David Hagen, Head of Supervision PSF at CSSF, who delivered a speech on where the financial sector is today with the cloud, one year after the introduction of the Cloud circular. Then Fabrizio Heitzmann, Account & Territory Manager and Julien Varela, Senior Systems Engineer for Nutanix presented their solution allowing companies to combine private and public clouds and to manage easily the ensemble with a box of hardware containing all the software produced by Nutanix.
In the second room, Peter Van den Spiegel, Director of Technology Advisory, and Ilco Vermeulen, Robotics & AI Advisor at KPMG Belgium presented their audience with an overview of where the markets stands today on chatbots.
The second breakout sessions were given by Stephane Caprace, Enterprise Server Technical Sales for Lenovo Global Technology Belgium, in one room, and Joris Wey, Senior Manager at KPMG Advisory Information Protection Services in the other. The first presented the data storage solutions of Lenovo, whose datacentres are already future-defined because the company thinks issues that were created with today's techniques can't be solved with the same methods. With those software defined storages, the hardware stays the same and the software is updated on a regular basis. Joris Wey, on the other side, showed his audience how hackers operate and gave a comprehensive overview of cybersecurity.
The technology of tomorrow
To kick off the afternoon, David Bar, Director for Customer, Digital and Data & Analytics at KPMG Israel, presented AI-driven Customer Service. He started by saying that the times we are living are as important as the industrial revolution in terms of change. What is, he asked, the next phase coming after chatbots and robotics? Mentioning autonomous cars and drones, he stressed how people need to govern AI not to protect themselves from it, but from other people misusing it. He then presented the "Green lane" approach, which involves automating a process to a certain degree, enough to simplify and improve the customer experience. What AI and automation mean for people, according to him, is that knowledge jobs will go but wisdom jobs will stay. For now, he concluded, automation won't truly go from cars to business. Instead, there will be augmented process and augmented business, improving how companies know and serve their clients proactively.
Olivier Beaujean, Chief Digital Officer – Global Head of Information Technology at IEE, then detailed the difference between traditional and digital innovation. He highlighted how the speed of innovation is incredible and how digital makes just about anything possible. By reminding the audience of the great steps of the digital evolution, he also explained the open innovation attitude, which consists in finding a strategy, then the help and partners to apply it. Before, information was power. Now, sharing it, sharing data is power. With this open attitude, everything is possible, given a certain framework and steps to innovation. Of course, he concluded, every idea must be tested digitally too. If they fail, they fail fast and corrections can be made quickly too. The goal with this is to find Minimum Viable Products – or MVP.
CMDB, Regulation and Innovation
After these presentations came the time for the last two breakout sessions. In the first room, Raoul Mulheims, Co-founder & CEO of Finologee and Boualem Rarih, IT Project Manager for KPMG Luxembourg, presented a Business case on regulation and innovation with a focus on PSD2. In the second room, Emmanuel Moreau, Associate Director of Know and Decide, presented Global View, the product of his company containing various solutions to maintain a good CMDB, reduce costs, control obsolescence and writing off, among other things.
Almog Alfassi, Data Expert and Software Developer, then presented the Data & Analytics department of KPMG Israel. The goal of these seven teams is to develop end-to-end solutions by focusing on a number of topics and buzzwords and working as an R&D lab. For the three pillars (Delivery, Audit and Virtual lab), they work with their own methodology, a 3-step agile journey taking at most ten months. To better illustrate the topic, he detailed several business cases and products developed for clients of KPMG Israel. For these solution, there is a lot of cooperation with the IBM AI Watson.
"Regulation vs innovation – what do the experts think?" was the title of the next panel discussion, moderated by Susanne Schartz, COO of Seqvoia, with Christina Ferreira, Head of Regulatory Solutions and Innovation at State Street Bank Luxembourg, Raoul Mulheims, Co-founder & CEO of Finologee, and David Hagen, Head of Supervision PSF at the CSSF. David Hagen said that Luxembourg has an interesting framework for innovative PSF that some other countries envy. The role of the CSSF is to understand what new players do to know if they have to be regulated or not. Raoul Mulheims said that regulation can be both a barrier or a help for innovators. One can see it as a threat, but it is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to launch new products because it creates new markets. The PSF status is like a hurdle to pass, then it is a differentiation factor. Christina Ferreira confirmed that new business or new revenues can be created by regulation, taking the example of the last financial crisis. On what the next area of innovation will be, they all agreed that AI was going to play an important role soon. Christina Ferreira added that augmented reality was also an important topic, as much as voice command and assistants. Raoul Mulheims agreed that the IoT may be even bigger than AI.
What is next?
Finally, Atreyam (Leo) Sharma, Co-Founder and Vice-President of Workshop4me took the stage to explain to the audience the point of view of teenagers on innovation. He said that the word was used too often these days for marketing reasons. His vision is that true innovation shouldn't mean improvement of products but should help those who need it and the environment. The most important thing, he said, is that the next application should be applied, not only discussed.
To wrap-up the event, Pascal Denis, Partner at KPMG Luxembourg, highlighted how willingness to interact and learn from each other is too rare, but was the case at Innovation Day. Because it is about leadership and culture more than buzzowords, it needs to be promoted. "We are innovative people, he concluded, and need to spread like a virus to make the whole body of our companies adapt and evolve". Kamel Amroune then showed the audience a teaser video for ICT Spring before the networking cocktail.