DMA download: Daimler's Franco Chiam on daring to fail in digital transformation

Digital transformation can be daunting and much persuasion is usually needed to convince management about the need for it. As with any new initiative, it is important to dare to fail. In the second episode of our Digital Marketing Asia podcast series produced in the lead up to our first-ever Digital Marketing Asia virtual conference this November, we interview Franco Chiam, Daimler Southeast Asia's digital and innovation lead, on his digital transformation journey with the company and the pushbacks he initially faced.

Listen to the full episode here.

Marketing: You have over 20 years of experience leading complex, large-scale digital transformation, and took on your current role in 2016. Could you walk us through your digital transformation process at Daimler and what has it been like for you so far?

Chiam: I guess transformation normally comes to mind from a tech standpoint but I will say in this case, mindset is the biggest factor and transformation will have to start always from the top. If you look at it from the mindset point of view, people are pretty much comfortable. They are complacent with what they do on a day to day basis. Like what they always say, if there's nothing wrong, don't change it. So in such a world where we look at digital trends, things are moving much faster than we have 10 to 20 years ago. That requires a lot of change in the mindset, which means we don't have the luxury of time.

Things that can change could happen in a matter of months and weeks or even within the year itself. So organisations need to be ready.

Failure is always not a bad thing. Sometimes we learn from the mistakes and I think in the past, there's always the thought process that everyone is afraid to start a new topic. However, let the topic flow, let it hit the roadblock and the lessons learnt from there [will be] valuable for the teams to see how much they can optimise for the future projects.

Marketing: Did you face any pushbacks from your management when you first started on this digital transformation journey? How did you overcome them?

Chiam: At the early stage, it's really [important] to get like-minded support from the board on why are we doing this initiative. What are the targets or what are the valuable benefits that the company can gain out of this? Is there a significant focus product? Is there a significant value added to the vehicle itself that we can look at? 

For example, we started with a chatbot internally and the first question people asked was why don't we just use the bot that is available in the current cloud providers. The interesting part is that once we start to develop the bot internally, there were a lot of use cases that were more in-house than what we could leverage from the public environment. So, we started to use those use cases internally. 

Join us on a three-week journey at Digital Marketing Asia 2020 as we delve into the realm of digital transformation, data and analytics, and mobile and eCommerce from 10 to 26 NovemberSign up here!

Related articles:
DMA download: StanChart's Joan Cheong on humanising tech
In conversation with: Roots Digital founder Ian Ong
Marketing podcast: Life after advertising with Jose Raymond
Marketing podcast: Life after advertising with Anne Ridwan
Marketing podcast: Life after advertising with Carolyn Kan
Marketing podcast: Life after advertising with Jeffrey Seah
Marketing podcast: Life after advertising with Matthew Godfrey
Marketing podcast: Life after advertising with Linda Locke
Marketing podcast: A media veteran's creative journey
Marketing podcast: How an independent agency is coping with COVID-19
Marketing podcast: A jolly good ROMP with Joseph Tan
Marketing podcast: Hustle to the top with Manulife SG's Cheryl Lim
Marketing podcast: Dancing with the wolves of 1MDB
Marketing podcast: Working with Sorrell (again) and S4’s acquisition spirit with Scott Spirit
Marketing podcast: Sanity on social with Denise Keller
Introducing Marketing's new podcast channel titled 'Connected'