The Digital Lab, an innovative initiative to involve employees in the transformation of the company

21 February 2023


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Groupe Haulotte, a specialist in tools for lifting people and loads, is launching its “Digital Lab” in 2021, a collaborative place for innovation to accelerate the transformation of its business. Case study.

Digital Lab, definition :

“A space dedicated to the testing, creation and implementation of innovative digital projects.”

Innovation has been part of Haulotte’s DNA since the company was founded in 1995. Today, the company is present on 5 continents and is seeking to transform itself in order to develop further.

With this in mind, the Group turned to Open Innovation in 2017 and launched the “Let’s Dare” program, to activate the levers of creativity and encourage employee commitment. In practice, Let’s Dare means: a charter of corporate values and associated practices, workshops, a leadership program for managers and project leaders, and the launch of the “Haulotte Academy” to enhance employee skills.

In this way, the company hopes to put employees’ initiatives at the service of performance. The program won an award at the Victoire des Leaders du Capital Humain, an event dedicated to HR practices in growing companies.

If Haulotte’s innovations were essentially industrial and centered on equipment created by the group, this great success pushes the company to go beyond the frontiers of their know-how. New projects are emerging, particularly in the digital sector.

The Digital Lab, an initiative by and for Haulotte employees

The Digital Lab is the logical continuation of “Let’s Dare”. Beyond the creation of a simple physical location, the company aims to transform the practices of the company’s talents. The ambition for this project is “to become a collaborative place for digital experimentation, to accelerate the Group’s transformation and the development of solutions”.

Their observation starts with industrial innovation processes that are poorly adapted to digital technology. Producing a good product takes time, but the company is also keen to iterate quickly. Haulotte sees this Digital Lab as a new opportunity: to rethink innovation for customers and employees through new internal working methods. With this Digital Lab, Group employees become players in the transformation of their company.

In 2018, the idea was presented to Comex, and the Digital Lab was officially launched in 2021.

A masterfully managed project

From day one, the Digital Lab has benefited from a dedicated, fully autonomous team. Xavier MACÉ (IT), Clément VIAOUET (marketing) and Ludovic LEMARCHAND (R&D and innovation) take the lead in project management. Their expertise complements each other and their scope of action is vast.

The three men at the head of the project carried out a comparative study for inspiration and created a unique Lab model, specific to Haulotte’s identity. Their thinking is taken a step further, with the development of project management processes and the drafting of a three-year action plan. They set themselves a rule: use in-house resources to minimize budgets and maximize employee creativity.

Internally, their mission is embodied on several levels: the Digital Lab is a cross-functional tool that every employee can take advantage of. In line with this approach, the Digital Lab is attached to the company’s General Secretariat, to ensure that it is visible to all.

Right from the start of the project, ideas began to emerge. In February 2021, the team will be running creative workshops. In June, the project leaders launched a worldwide communication campaign to gather ideas from the Group’s different business lines, and a few weeks later, working sessions in English were organized. In November, less than a year after the start of the Digital Lab, the first prototypes and mock-ups saw the light of day.

What’s next?

Employees continue to get involved in the Digital Lab. Xavier Macé, Clément Viaout and Ludovic Lemarchand’s vision for the future is very clear: to foster a culture of “doing” in order to move from a service company to a solutions company.

Adrien Levrat


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