The 2020 Geopolitics Festival at Grenoble Ecole de Management will highlight the impact of emerging IT and communications technology. The Mazars group shares its unique digital and innovation strategy to reinvent financial auditing.
Mazars now plays in the field of the Big Four. Over the past three years, the French group has grown from 19,000 to 25,000 employees to reinforce its presence in Europe, China and the USA. The group has implemented a culture of technology sharing in order to industrialize new job processes in more than 90 countries. We speak with Claire Cizaire, director of innovation and technology at the Mazars group.
Over the past three years, Mazars created a network of Labs in France and abroad. These physical locations are dedicated to innovation and new technologies. What is the recipe for this success?
Looking back on our experience, there were several key factors that enabled us to scale up: creativity, long term discipline and an global perspective right from the start of the project. We also had to show determination and courage in order to enact change in a professional environment that is particularly competitive and regulated at all levels of the business.
You were recruited three years ago for this new job. What is your mission?
Digital evolutions and innovations are priorities at Mazars. We’ve focused on the creation of new technologies and strategic evolutions for our various job sectors. My job was created three years ago to align with the executive committee’s desire to be active in terms of internal and external transformations. Our jobs and tasks are highly regulated, as a result, changes must be launched by top management if they’re to succeed. The primary guiding vision is to automate, analyze and valorize the digital data we have acquired through transversal tools.
Mazars has two challenges in this field: to facilitate the work of its consultants and team members, and to modernize our processes in order to increase agility for our clients. To sum up, we asked ourselves how technology could reinvent our intellectual services.
What are the concrete applications of this strategy?
We launched a portfolio of projects. First, projects with modest ambitions will enable us to ramp up our efforts and control the innovation cycle. The idea is to implement very short-term cycles that can be repeated and quickly increase our skills. For example, we worked on Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The goal is for internal users to gain the most from these efforts through training and support services. Then we created a Center for excellence on RPA which enables Mazars consultants to support our clients in terms of training and development. Over the course of 18 months, we went from nothing to the creation of a new consultant expertise for our clients.
Today, we are trying to implement externally what we already do internally. Over the course of three years, we created a network of innovation ambassadors. This informal network started listening to tech trends in the field with the goal of then sharing these trends up the ladder. The objective is to define and implement a strategy through various projects that run from local to national levels.
What characterizes this network of innovation ambassadors?
The network is without hierarchy. Everyone from junior to senior levels can be involved and information is transmitted quickly from one level to another. We were surprised to see the diversity and quality of information that has been transmitted. Innovation is generated through technology, but even more so by a culture of innovation that is carried by each person. The network started with 10 participants and now includes 150 members.
We also created a toolbox to help mobilize and connect the network. We noticed that after 18 months “hubs” were being created around certain people while others were free to leave the network as they wished.
What are the current results of the network?
The network took on its current form thanks to our event United Innovators which gathered the community and enabled participants to meet in real life. All members are interconnected and lead or coordinate various teams dedicated to digital changes. The goal is to be able to test new technology and apply the process to partners in order to benefit from feedback. Once the process is validated, industrial teams scale up the process for the whole group. That’s the real key, scaling up.
To do so, Mazars launched group-wide training campaigns via a digital platform in order to share information about blockchain, RPA, data analysis, design thinking… The content is defined both internally and externally with clients through mini, digital conference cycles that can be shared on the internet and LinkedIn. These conferences are also streamed live across France. To achieve all of this, we worked with the departments of HR, training, internal communications and IT services. The process is the same: we start small, repeat and then grow the content and training subjects. First we covered general topics and now we’re covering more technical ones. The trend is also heading towards employees being sources of suggestions for content and subjects.
QUESTIONING THE DIGITAL (R)EVOLUTION
From March 25-28, the 2020 Geopolitics Festival in Grenoble will focus on the topic of the digital (r)evolution with numerous debates, workshops, exhibitions and conferences. The event will explore the societal impact of these digital changes in light of ICTs 40 year history. The festival will highlight current trends and key issues at the heart of this digital change within our society.
The Geopolitics Festival will take place in five locations: Grenoble Ecole de Management, La Cité Scolaire Internationale, Le Café des Arts, La Maison de l'international, La librairie Decitre and Sciences Po Grenoble.
Organized by Grenoble Ecole de Management, the event is free with required registration.