The right insights, right now

Access the latest news, analysis and trends impacting your business.

Explore our insights by topic:

About Broadridge


Episode 59: “The Secret to Digital Transformation” with Pierre Beaufils, Global Business Consulting Leader at EY

Over the course of his career, Pierre Beaufils has consulted leading companies around the world, most recently as Global Business Consulting Leader at EY. In this episode, Pierre shares the secret to digital transformation success with Reimagining Communications host Matt Swain.

Matt: I'm Matt Swain, and you're listening to the “Reimagining Communications” podcast, where we discuss the opportunities and challenges facing companies on the road to optimizing their communications for the future. Today, I'm joined by Pierre Beaufils, Global Business Consulting Leader at EY. Pierre, thanks so much for joining today.

Pierre: Hey, Matt, very nice meeting you. Thank you for having me.

Matt: Yeah, certainly. And Pierre, I think congratulations are in order on your recent promotion to EY Global Business Consulting Leader.

Pierre: Thank you very much. It's quite an honor. So, I'm very pleased to be in that job, for sure.

Matt: Well, I love your background. You bring a wealth of perspective on designing and delivering large-scale transformation projects, but you've also done so across different regions, I think in Europe, in Asia, and the U.S. as well. I'd love to hear some career highlights to-date that have helped you arrive in this role that you sit in today.

Pierre: Yeah. And I don't know if I planned for that, but it happened. I started my first job in Indonesia launching GSM networks, and then I continued to do some telecom work around the world. So, Egypt, Tunisia, and then I really started to be not too bad at doing some multicultural work. Because when you start in Indonesia, and then in Middle East, and Africa, and then back to Paris, that was quite something to learn on how to work in these different environments.

And then I created, I won't say mine but our own consulting firm in 2001, on September 15th, which is...I mean, everybody remembers, a pretty tough time to start. And at the same time, also very good time to start. Because we were at a very hardcore difficult moment. We grew from 0 to 200 people, and I'm now a partner at EY. We sold the business to EY seven years ago, and I'm still there. So, it's a pretty nice place to be.

Matt: Yeah. Excellent. I'm curious, you mentioned the time, September 15th, 2001, interesting time to be starting a business. Similarly, these last few years with the pandemic, and different ways that has played out in different parts of the globe as well have had a significant impact on business and how companies operate. I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on how your clients' priorities have shifted in recent years, and common themes, where they're most often seeking your support.

Pierre: So, in the business, we seem sometimes to have short memories, meaning we believe that growth will go all the way to the sky, and that's going to work forever. So, if you have a three, four, five years of upcycle, then you think it's going to be like this forever, and your employees are just thinking about promotion, growth, and next seven things. And suddenly, you have something that comes... In the past years, we have the bubbles and crashes in 2000, we had the housing issues in 2010. So, it's not the first time.

However, it is the first time that it physically hit the people. So, we went to a moment where we really questioned whether we would survive. Will we survive individually, collectively, physically? And it's really requestioned all the priorities of the corporation. So, therefore, we went from optimizing to reinventing. So, back to your question. I see my clients on a daily basis constantly reassessing their risk, constantly reassessing how relevant they are to the market, to the competition, to the new issues with disruptions. And before we were on a three-year cycle – I do plan, I look at the options. I do my roadmap. I assess the plan three years.

Now, the question that comes in from the CEOs and the CXOs is, "Tell me what is what do you think we should be doing, and let's do it." That's pretty much the new ways of working.

Matt: Well, talking about the topics of the moment, I know that the DEI, diversity, equity, inclusion, and sustainability are both areas that you're passionate about. I've got to imagine that these are areas that you've been receiving a lot of requests in, as companies try to react to the moment or be proactive about getting ahead of some of these things. Any comments on how these business needs are playing into client engagements today?

Pierre: Yeah, I would say 5, 10 years ago, it was probably a little bit of a nice to have. You had some nice representation. You were having some a few hires here and there maybe to go in the right directions, and a little bit of to look good as well. That is completely over. Now, if you're not 50/50 in gender, and not speaking of the gender fluidity and how we're going to get that into our organization as mainstream for our new generations. We have, I would say, underrepresented minorities, that cannot be any more underrepresented because our clients do not tolerate that anymore. We do not tolerate that anymore, either.

So, we had to recalibrate, rebalance, put some quotas, put some promotions ahead, be very mindful. We call that also feminized organization, making this much more balanced at every angle. So, 50/50 campus recruiting, 50/50 on promotions, 50/50 on women leadership, for example.

And for instance, EY is very high on the LGBTQ number of employees. We've been from day one on that topic. And I'm very proud of that.

I think that this is really where we are making a better world. A better working world and a better world. And straightforward, if we don't do that, people will not join anymore. This is it. Now, we have to be very balanced and for the next 20, 50 to 100 years.

Matt: Right. From a Broadridge perspective, similar levels of engagement, we have a B. Pride initiative, B for Broadridge, but we're recording this in Pride Month in the U.S. I believe that, you know, in Paris, you also have something going on this month. So, I think it's important to recognize that. And diversity, to your point, really helps grow an organization and create the culture that you're looking for.

Pierre: And if I may add, Matt, to this point, like in the U.S., where freedom is quite important, privacy is important. I think now we all understood that this is just your private concern, which is you are who you are. And therefore, it should not influence any kind of situation on the negative side. And at the same side, it should not influence your ability or inability to be promoted or to be staff on the project. So now, we are looking at each project has to be diverse. There should be some representation from minorities because this is how the world works. We are just as a multidisciplinary team by thoughts, by background, by origination, by sexual orientation. This is the way it goes for having the best ideas and initiatives. It's not a marketing statement. It's a true way of working. I mean, that's quite amazing.

Matt: And it changes the outcome. It's been proven to show, right, that when you have a diverse team, working together to solve a problem, you come up with better solutions.

Matt: That kind of leads to thinking of the theme and title of our podcast. This is "Reimagining Communication Podcast," right? Many of our listeners are very focused on improving how they communicate with their customers. And sometimes that requires thinking differently and having a team that comes from various backgrounds to think about, how do we communicate with these customers across different channels, across different communication types? Because ultimately, they're trying to deliver better experiences. They're likely on some version of a digital transformation journey within their organizations because who isn't? Right?

And I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on digital transformation because it is a big term. It's probably an overused term. And everybody has a different take on what it means to them, probably because of the lens that they're looking at transformation through. So maybe for grounding purposes, how do you define digital transformation?

Pierre: So, we simply say now that there is no more transformation without being a digital transformation. I think these two words are now synonymous. We did an exercise last year just to say can we differentiate? Can we differentiate the non-digital to digital? And, in fact, we concluded that 95% of the time, a transformation is digital. Now, the question that goes with it is, is it an experience-driven digital transformation? And now we are getting to a very high percentage as well, where it's a human-centered, experience-centric transformation and digital transformation, which is multi-channel, of course, omnichannel. So, we have a situation where today, we see data transformation as pretty much every transformation that comes with a customer angle and think enabled. So, we really look at it this way.

Matt: Oftentimes, the success or failure of an initiative is dictated by how it's been set up at the beginning, right? Like, who was assigned the champion of the initiative? How senior in the organization were they? What background did they come from? What's their current role? But also, if you take a design thinking approach, you often have a chief customer officer or a CMO in the mix. So, if I give you a two-part question, the first is, what role does or should the CMO or chief customer officer play in an experience transformation initiative? And then the second part of that is, what's the ideal mix of the working team and advisory team roles for these types of initiatives to be successful?

Pierre: Yeah. So, let me be straightforward here, if the chief customer officer, the chief experience officer, or the CMO, because sometimes it's one or many roles, but let's say that the person in charge of the experience is not the primary sponsor in charge of the experience and digital transformation, no chance of success. You can stop right away.

And I'm not saying that to please my CX leaders and friends, just for the sake of having good businesses, but I've seen too many times some situations where we are trying to improve NPS, or we are trying to improve the customer satisfaction score by saying things like, "We're going to have to do promos. We're going to have to do cheaper prices." And it's very interesting that the highest NPS scores, I'm not supposed to name brands, so let's say some coffee brands, some mobile device brands, some car, electric car brands are normally very expensive, and at the high end of their price point, and at the same time, the highest service and design, and at the same time your highest satisfaction goal.

So, when you think that experience is promo, and discounts, and cheap price, you're really in the wrong direction. So, it's really what does matter for my customer. And if the chief experience is not there to drive this, it is not going to work. Let me insist on that once more, which is I've seen too many times the kind of the big goals by saying, "We want to change this process and make it super friendly." But the customers are looking at this as paper cuts. It's the hundreds and thousands of moments in time when you're thinking, "Why are they doing that to me? I cannot find this “Buy” button, or I cannot find where... Why am I calling this telecom company for the third time, and they still don't have records of my previous...?"

You're wondering, "Why are they doing that?" But nobody listens and hears this issue. Because it's not recording, so no measurement, no issue. So, you're in situations where if you don't have the mindset of the customer watching him, listening to him, and seeing him in action, you're just not going to transform. You're going to fail. You're going to have some improvements, but it's not going to be successful.

So now, to your second question, what is the ideal mix? I would say for our project on the customer-driven digital transformation, we have always three people together on one pod, a designer, a product person, and a tech person. Or it's a full-stack engineering prototyper. And we really do everything, which is, let's say, the processes, the epic, and the stories, down to the use case, with this angle, which is we always, always assess these with the three mindsets, a designer, a product, and a tech person. And then each of these add their own organization, which is the larger research and design thinking team, the larger product features and processes, and the larger tech team. But if we don't have these three bipods, so we organized like a flower, and we have these pods, bipods, to really map the process that we are working on. And this is, for me, a recipe that I'm really trying to apply all the time. And when I don't have these three things together, I feel anxious.

Matt: That is excellent feedback. I love those answers. I thought back to the first one. If the CMO or chief experience officer isn't leading, you will fail. We often run into challenges… maybe a challenge is the wrong word. But we run into organizations where they're leading with a cost-save measure as part of the transformation. So, it's taking something away from the customer to benefit the organization. And we try to flip that on its head to say, "What new benefit can you bring the customer and, therefore, they'll take the actions that you're hoping them to take, but don't make that your priority goal of why you're launching the initiative."

Pierre: Absolutely. And I will give you an example, a very concrete example, because when you say that it reminds me something very obvious, which is TMT is my industry. I grew up into that world. So, think about these promos. What we analyzed is when you have this rate on a monthly basis, and then suddenly it went up without being told to you, which is extremely frustrating, you don't realize that the first month, you don't realize that...then it takes you three months, and then you call and you're very upset. And what we realized is whatever is the level of new discount you receive, small, medium, large, super large, you had the same NPS score, which is bad. So, it's very interesting, because even though you would say, "I'm going to make it okay, and I'm giving back some money," still, it's over.

Matt: Yeah, it's too late.

Pierre: You're frustrated. And it cannot be a cost driven. And at the same time, what we always tell our customers...clients, sorry, "We are very confident that we're going to make that cost savings as well." But as a core sequence of making it right. Making it right. They're not going to call back. They're not going to have 25 ways. Solve the premise first, making it so simple, that you can read the bill, you can read the invoice. They don't need to go back. The best cost savings are the one that did not have cost at the beginning to save. So, no cost is the best.

Matt: And that also comes back to who's championing because, oftentimes, I don't want to say that a marketing lead or a CXO are not cost-conscious but they're not leading with cost save. They're leading with benefit to the customer. And then let's figure out how to do that within whatever guidelines we have on our budget. Whereas an operations or procurement lead is probably going to come in with, "How do I save money? How do I reduce costs?" Not, "How do I benefit the customer?"

Matt: And I'm speaking globally or generically on that. But that tends to be what we see.

Pierre: And I think this is where they have to work together. This is what it is. So, here, you're right, the COO, CFOs will have to work hand in hand with the CXOs, or the chief experience officer. But when they do so, it's amazing. It's really amazing, because then you have an NPS or a satisfaction target, and you're going to say, "And we're going to make some cost savings with it." Because there will be much less goals, much less issues, much less problems, and flows, it works better.

Mark: Yeah. So, going back to this journey, the transformation journey, from a tactical perspective, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on how once somebody starts on whatever journey they're on, they have their roadmap, they've got a target future state, they begin implementing. We all know that you have some unforeseen obstacles, or you have shifting client needs or new technologies that can change the course of the initiative. What questions...and I mean, if I can do this in three, like, what three questions should the company answer that ensures they're still on the right path in their journey?

Pierre: So, I may do a bit of this real estate, kind of what are the three rules of real estate, location, location, location. So, it may be a little bit this way. But I will say, I will always question, is this benefiting the customer, or the employee if it's an employee transformation. And be relentlessly focused on that. Because if it's not significantly improving the customer and account experience, then we should question if we are on the right path. So, I give you an example. Very often, if not always, the very large IT transformation are degrading the experience because you go from a well sophisticated, bespoke platform to very well sophisticated, let's say package that in the first phase will be less developed, less configured, less parameters. So, you degrade the experience. So, very often cooperation says, "Oh, no problems, I'm improving this because I'm changing my system here." Which in fact, very often turns into degrading the experience for a while.

So, when this happens, sometimes you need to, yeah, there's no choice. The system is not supported anymore. But if you have the choice, you really have to think, "What is this providing to my client?" And if nothing, then we should really question. So that's my point. The second point I would say, is the transformation delivery teams are rediscovering that human in the center is probably the number one reason why people succeed, which is, Matt and I were working together because somehow, we like working together, and because we get along nicely and we're going to go the extra mile to make it work.

And if you forget that it's all being done by humans at the end, internally, for the benefit of the customer. It might be a bit stupid and simple to say so but always remember that if your team does not work well together, and is not inspired, and does not feel it's the right thing to do and is enjoying it as simply as it could be, it's not going to work. So human at the center and client first.

Matt: Excellent. Are there specific tools or technologies that you're watching particularly closely relative to how they can impact your client engagements through the transformation initiatives, I mean, if I'm being a little selfish on this, like clients ‘communications and customer experience?

Pierre: On the client-side, I'm looking really at what's happening with metaverse, NFTs, because we are playing catch up, let's say the big corporation on that. There is a generation of ideas, and systems, and ways of payment, and authentication, blockchain that is happening on a daily basis. So, I have a team dedicated to look at this, of course. So, it's really the internal too, so communication top-down, mass market with some personalization that really top-down, enabling the work by AI-generated things. So, to be faster and better. And for the market, looking at this Metaverse, NFTs, 3.0 issues where we are probably a bit behind, not as EY but as corporations serving the market.

Matt: So, do you think that NFTs, the metaverse, Web 3.0, do you think that those are going to have a significant impact on customer experience in the coming years?

Pierre: Yes, in a reasonable way. So, I'm not saying that this is it or nothing. I'm now old enough to have seen a number of situations where we said, "If you don't do that today, it's over." Now, there's a bit of an acceleration of the question, but I would say the following. Some industries, the consumer, the luxury goods, the retailers, if you do not embrace the digital tracking, digital payment, digital and the NFTs, and the metaverse, and these environments where you could buy and sell in a different way, identify, and authenticate a product, you're going to face some sales challenge. The consumer goods industry is really challenged these days by this. I mean, anything that is digital or digital-enabled, will be becoming big-time impacted by blockchain, 3.0, and metaverse, for sure.

Matt: Pierre, thank you so much for sharing your perspective with us today.

Pierre: Thank you.

Matt: This was great. I'm Matt Swain, and you've been listening to the "Reimagining Communications Podcast." If you liked this episode and think someone else would too, please share it, leave a review, and don't forget to subscribe. And to learn more about Broadridge, our insights and our innovations, visit, or find us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Never miss an episode: Click the icon to subscribe to the Reimagining Communications podcast on the channel of your choice.

Apple Podcasts Google Podcasts spotify logo amazon music RSS logo
Apple Podcasts Google Podcasts spotify logo amazon music RSS logo
Apple Podcasts Google Podcasts spotify logo amazon music RSS logo