COLOGNE: Shiseido, the 140 year-old Japanese cosmetics business, is using innovation and technology to drive gradual transformation across all of its 26 brands to prepare them for the future.

“The company realised that the traditional way of working wasn’t sustainable any more,” Alessio Rossi, the company’s New York-based global chief digital officer, told an audience at the recent dmexco conference.

“So they had to shift gears and promote change across the organisation, not just in digital, but innovation can come from the supply chain or anywhere.” (For more details, read WARC’s report: Change management at scale: how Shiseido is using data and AI.)

Internal initiatives include the Shiseido Digital Centre of Excellence, launched last year to oversee change management related to all things digital and to prioritise areas of focus, and SHISEIDO+, a digital academy enabling staff to learn how to integrate new technology into what they do.

“Shiseido has the objective to become a leading company in consumer intimacy in the beauty industry, which is really powered by data,” Rossi explained.

“We think if we know more about them, we have to talk less, we have to interrupt less, we can interject in consumers’ lives in a way that is relevant.”

Artificial intelligence is playing a vital role in this, by making sense of the huge volumes of data the company and its brands have access to.

A project involving IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence tool Lucy, for example, is helping marketing staff understand the data by asking Lucy questions, framed in natural, conversational language and getting answers to things like the correlation between investment in social media spending and growth in market share.

Rossi acknowledge that staff could be fearful of the implications of AI for their own jobs but offered reassurance.

“AI at Shiseido isn’t replacing anybody, it’s helping people and actually creating jobs because training Lucy to understand beauty is not an easy exercise.

“We’re creating a new class of professionals that didn’t exist before.”

Sourced from WARC