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Nov 21, 2017  Düsseldorf / Germany

Interview with Rahmyn Kress, Chief Digital Officer at Henkel

“Digital is inclusive, not exclusive”

Rahmyn Kress was appointed Henkel’s Chief Digital Officer (CDO) earlier this year to spearhead Henkel's strategic priority “Accelerate Digitalization.” In this interview, he talks about his new role, key priorities and how he plans on driving Henkel’s digital transformation activities.

Rahmyn Kress, Chief Digital Officer at Henkel

Rahmyn Kress, Chief Digital Officer at Henkel

How would you describe your role as Chief Digital Officer?
I see the role of the CDO driving the digital transformation and by doing so touching many areas of the business including traditional business, new technology and cultural change. There are three distinct areas where the Chief Digital Officer should be active: digital optimization, incremental innovation and digital disruption. But above all the cultural change. Today’s fast changing technologies create many opportunities for companies like ours, but also for emerging new companies. As the barrier of entry becomes cheaper new companies have an opportunity to build new products and services at lower cost. These companies can start with a clean sheet and don’t have large operations that they need to consider or complex processes that have grown over many years. Therefore, we need to be able to address our core as well as play in the new. That’s a little bit more demanding.

What are your key topics and priorities for 2017/2018?
They are largely based on data, to enable more data-driven decision making and developing data strategy for product innovation, helping us understand consumer behavior, market trends and product performance. New digital technology, to build one strategy that is complementary to one another in a modular environment. There are clearly a lot of new aspects that are coming towards us, so we need to have a technology stack that can address that amount of volatility in the market place. Lastly, digital is inclusive and not exclusive, so we need to invest in training and upskilling talent and building a digital culture that cultivates in a circular movement that kind of spirit, culture and re-kindle the entrepreneurship that I believe is already sitting here across Henkel. As part of our DNA and values the entrepreneurial spirit keeps us driving the business, rethinking and refocusing the energy to tackle market challenges. Now, it is about taking our place on the digital stage.

My view is that digital transformation is a journey and it’s a never-ending program of improvement. We are at the beginning of this journey. There is a big opportunity for large corporations and we need to play at our strength. We have years and years of experience, millions and millions of data sets, very good trade relationships and very loyal customers. So, we need to make these our assets and build on them. We need to reach out to our business partners and our networks collaborate. Collaborative commerce will be how we win the game.

What were some of your observations of Henkel?
My impressions continue to be very positive. There is a tremendous amount of talent at Henkel. I have had the opportunity to interact and engage with various departments and geographies and learned about the fantastic initiatives that have been launched, which are very much in line with the peer groups in other organizations. The one thing I see as an opportunity is that we have a lot of activities that are running and they need more longevity. They need to be underpinned and scaled properly, so they are sustained in the market place. This also means, if activities in the pilot phases are not running smoothly, we should take a step back and question its execution. This is fail fast, learn fast culture. However, I don’t see it as fail fast because just because something didn’t work out that doesn’t constitute in failure and we shouldn’t look at it that way, but rather build, measure and learn that will prove beneficial. Because those things we did that didn’t yield the desired outcomes are experiences and not failures.