Customized customer experiences: L’Oréal CTO on how tech is transforming business

future for customer journeys

The future for customer journeys won’t be solely in manufacturing, it will be in customized customer experiences. In this dialogue between Manish Sinha, CTO of L’Oreal, and Yousuf Khan of Moveworks, the two discuss why personalization matters and how to manage modern global workforces.

Yousuf Khan: Good morning and good to meet you. Seeing that you are in Paris it’s bonjour and enchanté.  I really appreciate you making the time. This is probably not your first international move.  You are a global operator from that standpoint so the very first question that comes to mind is what are you seeing from a transition from the US to working for L’Oreal?

Manish Sinha:  Very nice to meet you as well Yousuf. I’ve lived and worked in Europe, in Asia and of course in the US, different flavors of how things are.  It’s one thing to say a global role but it’s another thing to actually go into those countries and live in those countries and feel the culture and the language. What I saw in the US is it’s always about innovation and experimentation. One of the phrases I used to love a lot in the US which fits culturally is ‘fail fast’.

Europe is almost the opposite.  It always talks about how slow and steady wins the race.  It is a fear of failure which is why you see a lot of these startups not happening here. Asia, on the other hand, is very energetic, very hardworking, very creative and they are all about ‘let’s leapfrog the technology’. 

[T]he question is going to be how do you help your business transforming to that level of personalization and customization?

Ten years ago, they used to talk about how we have more cell phones then we have PCs. They leapt a generation forward. They are now harnessing that energy to just leap forward. So I think it’s very interesting to live around the world and just see how things are working.  I have tons to share, lots of stories to share which you know we can go on and on forever …

Khan: I think it gives a global perspective having lived in Europe and East Africa you know in terms of how technologies are both implemented and driven by startup ecosystems and how innovation is actually born.  

One thing that I haven’t had the exposure to is understanding the depths of the consumer experience for a consummated company. I don’t think a lot of people have that insight so could talk a little about customization, where everything has headed to in the consumer space.

Sinha:  A few years ago it used to be about mass production. All that is changed now, right?  Everything is now personalized and customized. It needs to be marketed to me, not to every person in my community. To the extent even manufacturing is going to that level of customization.  

I’ll give you an example. Even beauty products need to know the color of the make up which a person wants. It needs to be customized to my skin, right?  Manufacturing is now going to learn my skin tone and create the product to me, which is a whole different level of personalization. 

What keeps people going back is when work starts to matter. 

Khan:  If you look at technology playing a part in that you see that on an omni channel strategy, that is specifically on mobile and web.  But when you look at a large company they are going through quite a bit of a seachange. This is actually how they build their businesses and their customer experiences, right?

Sinha:  The customer experience is no longer is about the tail end where you buy. The customer experience is now from the manufacturing to the purchase and the whole cycle begins again.  For the IT/CIO/CTO, the question is going to be how do you help your business transforming to that level of personalization and customization?

KhanThere are two major takeaways here.  One is that you know IT leaders who are viewing this have taken to light that there’s just a tremendous amount of depth that goes into changing the customer experience. That’s probably going to be a centerpiece for a lot of strategies that can develop.  I think the second takeaway is that there’s someone probably searching right now to basically see how they can get personalized skin products. That has probably inspired a whole bunch …

Sinha:  That’s a startup waiting to happen right now!   

CIO Buyer Journey Webinar with Moveworks’ Yousuf Khan

Khan: You’ve worked at global companies and a large part of that is being able to manage global teams. What has worked and what hasn’t when managing those teams?

SinhaWhat keeps people going back is when work starts to matter.  When you’re making a difference. What experience are you creating and how does that fit into the bigger picture, right?

That is what keeps people motivated for a long time. Our challenge as CIO, CTOs or bigger still the CEOs is making sure everybody in the organization understands how their job fits into the big picture and that without that small puzzle, the big picture is incomplete. The key theme always is, does the work matter and do I know where it fits in?

Khan:  Last question. What are your New Year resolutions?

Sinha: There’s going to be a lot of resolutions. One key thing is getting closer to the business and understanding what the business needs are.  The business doesn’t understand the strategy.

Ask if my adoption of a certain technology going to help that strategy. If the answer is yes, then it’s only communication after that.  The business is suddenly behind it.  

The second resolution is security.  Especially with the amount of data out there. Am I doing my patch management? Am I strengthening the end points? Are there advance technologies which can take care of all the other stuff? But first it’s about the basics and I’m amazed at how many places the basics are not done and that’s what causes the weakest link.

Khan:  Thank you so much for making the time Manish. I’m sure all of our viewers and listeners have really appreciated your insights. 

Sinha: Thank you Yousuf for conducting this. This was great, thank you very much.

This interview was an excerpt from a longer discussion for Pulse Q&A. The full video of the talk can be found here.

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