Damm, the digital transformation of a 19th-century company
On Friday 27 November, students at the University Campus of ESIC Barcelona attended an online lecture given by Laura Gil, the Digital Transformation Director of the Damm group and a member of the Jury of the Aster Awards presented by ESIC Cataluña. During her talk she explained how Damm, the leading company in the beer brewing sector with over 140 years’ history, has managed to cope with the digital revolution, integrating technology into the heart of its business development programme.
Laura Gil emphasized that “the competitiveness and fast rate of change in the market underlines the vital importance of continually striving to do better and of resilience in business today”. She then went on to offer a brief description of her own career path in which for many years she specialized in management and finance. “I'm going to be honest here. When they proposed that I should lead the Department for the Digital Transformation of Damm, a company for whom I had been working for more than 15 years, I felt slightly uneasy, as I was very aware of the importance of this challenge”. However, four years after setting out on this new path, she now confirms that it was the right decision and that her previous experience within the company was crucial when it came to deciding on the initial course to take and for guiding the metamorphosis of the company from the very outset of the project.
When an organization decides to embark on an innovation process involving a complete turnaround, as happened in Damm, the first thing to bear in mind is the size of the company, because as Gil points out, this affects the extent and scope of the change process. For this brewing group, with operations in over 130 countries and more than 5,000 employees worldwide, the challenge involved extending some of the most firmly established ways and processes of working. This was how the concept “LIVE”, an acronym for “Loyalty, Innovation, Vision and Energy”, first appeared as a means of activating the motor of change, because as Gil pointed out, even if you have designed the best possible action plan, if you do not change the shared beliefs of the members of the company, all your efforts will be in vain.
Finally, she assured that although the digital revolution would affect all the different business areas, change would always start from the same point: the consumer. This is why all proposed actions must be based on a common goal, namely to build a differentiated proposal that attracts the attention of potential clients and wins the loyalty of current users, providing value at every step of the customer journey. To this end, Gil argued that the employees must be the preferential stakeholders of this interest group in that they play a fundamental role as ambassadors for the brand and creators of confidence, making sure that their commitment has a direct impact on corporate reputation.
“At Damm, we hope to build meaningful, long-lasting relationships with our customers, connecting with them through their own personal experiences to discover new horizons and opportunities to improve”, Gil noted. She then went on to explain that the company is gradually moving a large part of its investment towards a customer-centred strategy in line with the current needs of society, by opting for a more digital, more sustainable business model and strengthening the IT (Information Technology) and CSR departments.
“I hope to complete our digital transformation plan over the coming years, as this will mean I have done my job well”, Laura Gil concluded, a goal which she sees as the culmination of a long process that will eventually come to an end. However, she also reminded everyone that innovation, by contrast, must be an ever-present, ongoing part of any organization, so as to ensure its continuing competitiveness in the changing, globalised world in which we find ourselves today.