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This article introduces a personal WordPress blog article serie, in english, on how to lead digital change in MENA (Middle East North Africa) region, written along my MBAMCI parenthesis.

Few months ago during lockdown, the INSEAD Conversations teams organized a Zoom webinar panel discussion on “Leading a Data-driven Transformation”.

INSEAD, the business chool for the world, logo

INSEAD Marketing professors Joerg Niessing and David Dubois discussed this topic with special guest Alain Bejjani, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim – Holding (MAF).

Leading digital change in MENA. Panel members of Insead Conversations: Joerg Niessing and David Dubois discuss with special guest Alain Bejjani

Majid Al Futtaim is a Dubai-based lifestyle conglomerate operating in 15 countries and 13 diverse industries. It is the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa, North Africa and Asia.

Dubai, UAE, Mall of the Emirates, admiinistrated by MAF, Majid Al Futtaim

A topic and a guest in which I have several personal interests :

  • I am a INSEAD alum endowed with a life-long learning spirit,
  • I worked for years for Carrefour (retail brand under which MAF operates in MENA), in France in merchandise procurement but also in its endaevour to open India as a market through a local expansion strategy,
  • Having lived sometimes as an expatriate in many emerging markets (China, India, Saudia, Morocco, Qatar…) along my career in various food and lifestyle retail/e-commerce omnichannel formats, opened my eyes to the diversity of people to understand better the communities I was serving, not only having common-sense observation of what their food habitswas are but augmented perception was required, that only data could provide to deliver them best possible assortment (flour, pulse and rice are such an exercise) according to the distribution channel, and an overall outstanding shopping experience,
  • As a senior manager, eager to take any issue as an opportunity, digital transformation through data is part of the MBA MCI e-commerce and digital marketing program I’ve been following this year at ILV in France. This to operate my own digital change and to gain in organisational and in soft skills for a better leadership style towards change implementation, through data analysis and omnichannel guest experience design, once back in the MENA region.

In addition to this survey on describing the organization’s strategies and intentions for delivering a memorable customer experience :

Leading digital change in MENA : intent towards delivering outstanding customer experiences

I will take particular note of these insights exchanged during this INSEAD conversation with Alain Bejjani :

Leading digital change in MENA. Panel members of Insead Conversations: Joerg Niessing and David Dubois discuss with special guest Alain Bejjani
  • Tectonic (and techtonic) changes imply spending more on Experience
  • The real disruptor is not Amazon, but the Customer freer than ever from servitude
  • Your competitors are now global and can know better than you, historical player, your own local customers
  • With agile tech capability and a seamless approach you may cause casualties among your competitors
Leading digital change in MENA. Panel members of Insead Conversations: Joerg Niessing and David Dubois discuss with special guest Alain Bejjani
  • A priority in modern retail, with the help of data analysis and good sense, is to master the complexity of understanding communities, before the others
  • For your local assortment strategy, disrupt your own beliefs about your customers. Better know Bollywood movies than Hollywood ones, since in grocery retailers it definitely bring ROI to know customers and their preferences, as it used to be in the past on local markets
  • Give your talents the opportunity to develop themselves through digital, in order to put data together to understand better the communities they are dedicated to

As a Urban Omnichannel Glocal retail expert, with experience across the Middle East, Asia, and hopefully Africa…, I personally do my best to tick all the boxes, starting by the good sense of sharing the food habits (and host table spirit) not only of Westerners but especially of Arabs, Indians, Filipinos… who are welcoming me,

Damien Peyre and Al Meera Qatar team

also by deploying a lifelong learning mind on the latest digital trends and on soft skills required to lead the change among multi-cultural teams,

Damien Peyre and Carrefour India team

and of course, by singing once in a while a catchy Bollywood song :

Kaisa sharmaana aaja nach ke dikha de.

Aa meri hove aaja parda gira de.

Aa meri akhiyon se akhiyan mila le.

Ab tu na nakhre dikha…

Shah Ruhk Khan and dancers in Chammak Challo bollywood choregraphy

And you, as a first step to be successful to lead digital change in MENA, like Alain Bejjani suggests,

does your resume indicate your motivation to drive the digital transformation and your experience of the local ground reality ?

Damien Peyre

This article was originally released on my Linkedin account under the tittle Wanna lead digital change in MENA ? Know Bollywood songs and data analytics ! on June 6, 2020.

For further reading on “Leading a Data-driven Transformation” and related topics, INSEAD faculty suggest you the following articles:

For reading my other articles, in French or English:

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