L’Oreal aligns technology with the business to work faster

L’Oreal’s digital technology is working with the business and marketing departments to become innovative and agile

L’Oreal’s digital technology is working together with the business and marketing departments of the company to become innovative and agile.

After Vincent Stuhlen joined the cosmetics and beauty brand as global head of digital three years ago, he encouraged the business to align itself with the IT department to develop systems quicker.

Speaking with Computer Weekly at Demandware’s user conference in Barcelona, Stuhlen said business IT is a topic dear to his heart. 

“I define digital as marketing and business powered by IT. So businesses need to be good at those three domains, and that’s basically my job," he said.

“With digital you struggle everywhere, because digital is everywhere – that’s why it is a business challenge, marketing challenge, customer relationship challenge and an IT challenge,” he added.

His first priority at L’Oreal was to define digital IT as the consumer-facing technologies, rather than internal IT. Secondly, he revised interactions between digital and marketing teams.

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“We have business stakeholders and technology stakeholders, and they work together – this is very important,” said Stuhlen.

The digital IT budget at L’Oreal now comes from marketing because, according to Stuhlen, it is a key part of the business. “This is a fundamental shift, it’s not just technology stuff, it is a business driver of innovation,” he said.

“We’re experts in business technology and we work together to get what is best for the business,” he added.

Some businesses don’t like to separate traditional IT from digital IT because it’s the same processes. But Stuhlen said the main difference is the fact digital IT is much more consumer-facing and needs to be more innovative to become an enabler of change.

“Innovation is really key, but you have to get ready for that by changing technology and changing the ways of working,” he said.

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Stuhlen warned if businesses don’t change their ways of working they become slow. “And if you’re slow, you’re dead,” he said.

However, while L’Oreal's programme is growing, it isn’t rapid yet. “We were slow at the beginning and then we stabilised, and now we do pilots. When we’re ready to scale, we’re going to scale massively,” said Stuhlen.

The company has been working with Demandware to implement e-commerce websites and to expand globally. Its redeveloped flagship Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) beauty site recently went live in the UK on the Demandware platform, and it plans to go live in China later in October 2014.

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