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Atos puts its faith in the digital economy

With the launch of its Digital Transformation Factory, Atos is supporting the digital revolution taking place at its customers. Guillaume Belin, the Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains the strategy behind this new data-centred model.

Data as driver

“Data is a phenomenon that is having a profound impact on social, economic and political activities”, says Guillaume. He offers a simple explanation why today’s data economy is accelerating exponentially: “A piece of data is a factual element. Put multiple pieces together and you get information, which can be used to inform decisions, ultimately leading to action.” For Atos, Europe’s leader in big data, cybersecurity and connected work environments, adopting a data-centred model is the logical next step for its businesses. The determination to do that is set out in the Ambition 2019 Plan created by the Group, which, with around €12 billion in revenues in 2016 – up 10% on 2015 – ranks in the world’s top five digital services firms. “We are working with customers to look at the ways in which digital technologies are transforming their business and organisation, while guiding them towards a data business model.” To respond to the evolving needs of customers, Atos has adopted a new slogan – Trusted Partner for your Digital Journey – which expresses how Atos wants to support its customers, many of which are brick & mortar leaders, on their journey to the digital world.

As Guillaume sees it, the digital transition forces firms to meet four new challenges: rethink customer relationships, achieve operational excellence, reinvent business models, and establish security and trust as core values. “We are developing new long-term, individualised relationships in which customers take the initiative”, he says. “Where once brands controlled the field, customer relations are taking on a social dimension that belongs to the consumer community.” Companies had better get their operational excellence right so that they can keep up with this conversation, or face losing ground on their digital rivals. Because the digital channel and changing customer habits need things to be faster and more transparent, companies also have an incentive to revisit their business models. Some are switching from BtoBtoC to BtoC so that they can reach out directly to end clients. While this is driving the disintermediation of customer relations, it is also spurring greater integration of connected objects. “To be data-centric, an organisation has to be customer-centric first and foremost”, says Guillaume.

With the rise of big data and analytics, security and trust have become assets that can be leveraged in dealings with end consumers. Because information is never neutral, it necessarily involves the responsibility of the company that uses it. “We feel deeply that security is not a cost, but a digital value that we need to grow”, stresses Guillaume, pointing to the underlying trend driven by Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) scheduled to come into effect in May 2018.

Business reorganisation through the Digital Transformation Factory

In the latest stage of its own digital journey, in early 2017 Atos launched its Digital Transformation Factory. The Factory harnesses all of Atos’s technologies, skills and business expertise, bringing them to bear to effect the digital transformation of its customers with the goal of recreating in the digital world the leadership positions built in the real economy.

This reorganisation of Atos’s expertise is designed to reflect the data lifecycle that major organisations must integrate into their operating approach. “Our job is to support the pre-digital world in the transition to the digital world, which is a far trickier task than simply creating a pure player from scratch”, says Guillaume.

The Factory includes four sets of solutions specially created by Atos to support customers in their digital transformation. First is the Hybrid Cloud, which takes the company’s existing digital assets, from infrastructure to applications, and converts them to the digital world within a bi-modal environment shared between the firm (private cloud) and public resources (public cloud). The next step is to enhance this infrastructure with business accelerators, that is, the data processes that keep the company working, like CRM, innovation and R&D, production, distribution, finance and HRIS. “Rolling out new processes on the cloud makes it possible to circulate and share information in real time”, says Guillaume. Which brings us to the third set of solutions: Atos Codex. A suite of internet-of-things, analytics, big data and artificial intelligence services and solutions, Atos Codex harnesses Atos’s tools and technologies to collect and process data and transform them into the information that digital firms need to gain a quicker and better understanding of their customers, their competitive environment, business, operating approach and area of activity.

Finally comes the Digital Workplace, a set of tools, screens, interfaces and services that enable information to get to the right people and circulate among the right teams, making sure that the organisation operates as nimbly and smoothly as possible. The four pillars of the digital transformation process are intrinsically linked to two cross-cutting platforms: security and payment. “Security is a must at every stage because it provides assurance that data have not been altered, whether in terms of their nature, content or access by authorised people and systems. Security guarantees that data can be traced and identified no matter how they are used.”

The new digital offering is tailored to the individual business environment of each customer in Atos’s four markets: Manufacturing, Retail & Transportation (35% of Group revenues in 2016), Public & Health (28%), Telecos, Media and Utilities (20%), and Financial Services (17%). Digital technologies raise specific issues and are used in different ways in each of these markets. Manufacturing, Retail & Transportation firms share the common feature of relying both on a production or procurement chain and a distribution system. “You have to be able to deal with the digital transformation of these two ensembles concurrently by optimising products while improving customer experiences”, says Guillaume. For financial services firms, the primary challenge is to process massive amounts of data in real time at a high level of sophistication. Telecos, Media & Utilities such as power and water companies are “network economies” whose challenges revolve around size, speed of growth, and detailed, decentralised intelligence about what is happening between different network components and users. Public & Health organisations, meanwhile, must process data from a “digital citizen”, rather than a “digital consumer” angle.

Take innovation forwards in-house and at clients”

Atos’s traditional divisions have been reorganised and renamed to accommodate the new digital offerings, with Managed Services becoming Infrastructure & Data Management and Consulting & Systems Integration being renamed Business Applications & Platform Solutions. These changes form part of a gradual evolution in the organisation. “The switch from Managed Services to Data Management shows how we are taking responsibility for customer data lifecycles.”

The digital transformation is a lengthy and complex process requiring the ability to control ongoing or planned customer initiatives while tapping into Atos’s expertise to ensure that these efforts are steered as effectively as possible. Following the rule that it is better to lead innovation than be subject to it, the internal changes within Atos are intended to set an example of digital transformation. Atos is already reaping the rewards, as the year-one results for the Digital Transformation Factory are in line with the firm’s strategic plan. “We’re setting our sights on 40% of revenues by 2019”, says Guillaume.

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Atos

International provider of digital services to companies.

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Terence Zakka

Global Head of PR & Media

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