COGNITIVE, are our solutions
CLOUD, is our platform
INDUSTRIES, are our focus

This is the motto that lead our transformation here at IBM and the first thing that Dirk Wittkopp, Vice President of IBM Germany Research & Development did is remind it at the Academics Days in emlyon. IBM transformed itself and now wishes to share its experience with its clients.

As a matter of fact, the next speaker is Bernard Belletante, CEO EMLYON, and through its testimony we can feel the power of such a digital transformation upon an organisation.

In France, business schools are supposed to be old-fashioned. However, after one hour spent with Bernard Belletante, we get that this school is now far away from the old model. Episodic and linear learning versus continuous and multidimensional learning / amphitheaters, classrooms versus collaborative spaces / stocks (books, rooms, teachers…) versus flows of knowledge and data etc…
Daniel Evans, CIO emlyon and Wendy Hediard-Wouters, Director – Digital Transformation emlyon, presented their plan to an appreciative audience with this simple message : « change takes time, but first of all, it takes commitment ». Everybody must get on board!

The professors or searchers I have been speaking with during the coffee breaks told me how impressed they were by the transformation of the school.  And so was I! From my point of view, emlyon is 10 years ahead of my own alma matter: the ENA. Our buildings are beautiful, but it hides the lack of modernity. No digital transformation has yet begun at the ENA… But maybe, if I make a wish… 🙂

Later, Harry Van Dorenmalen charmed the audience with a nice barracudas story (click here to learn about it) before explaining us the geopolitical, economic and social context in Europe, ME and Africa. Brexit, migrant crisis, Greek crisis, Donald Trump etc… His point: “look around the world you live in, be part of the movement”. Dorothy Wiesmann dazzled the audience with the Internet of Things. We met the COBOTS, « robots which collaborates with humans »and how to make better wines thanks to moisture sensors. Some French wine lovers seemed skeptical (of course, we are so proud) but the demo was convincing. At least, I was convinced. I felt like I were in a science-fiction movie, but I loved it!

Of course, as a former student, I was charmed by Santiago Iniguez, dean IE Business School, who insisted on giving the right place to Humanities in education. One sentence could summarize his thoughts: “liberal arts provide the cement to integrate the knowledge and the skills of any profession, as well as to understand our complex world and social interaction”. The next big shift, according to him, is blended learning.

Finally, Nicolas Sekkaki, CEO IBM France, gave the closing speech of the first day. « Transformation is a question of life and death » he said. Yeah! Rock n’roll! the message was strong but he made his point considering my neighbors’ faces… He added then, stressing what Santiago Iniguez just said before, that companies need soft skills, agility, and a new culture made by « trying and fail ». He ended asking people to « shake the company ». Rock n’roll again.

Friday morning was thematic: technology, applications, management. Many interesting speeches once again, with Richard Straub (President Peter Drucker Society Europe) fighting against bureaucracy and centralization asked for agility, and with Oded Cohn, VP at IBM & Director of IBM Research – Haifa, who showed the potential of IBM research, especially with facial expression analysis and recognition.

I joined the Sales and Distribution department at IBM France about a month ago and I’ve hearing a lot about the “wow effect”. Well, these Academic’s days gave me the WOW! And as far as I know, I wasn’t the only who felt this way.

Can’t wait for next year !


Rémi Bochard
IBM Sales & Distribution

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