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IT trends spotted and checked by experts

Chief information officer at Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, watches and jewellery

Pierre-Albert Carlier is chief information officer at Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy, for the luxury brand's watches and jewellery division. He has 30 years of professional experience, and has worked for...


Luxury and technology: a crossroads for innovation

7 Apr, 2014 08:25 am

At Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), we are operating at the crossroads of history, art and technology. We have very traditional brands focused on great design, but we also need the latest technology to make the most of how we do business. This requires a delicate balance.

Technology is absolutely vital to LVMH. Since 2010, we have concentrated strongly on the trends of digital transformation and mobility, making sure that we can provide our customers and staff with the best results through IT, in order to support our traditional brands.

Our group has more than 65 different brands, and our Watches and Jewellery division, with seven brands, is highly active in using the latest technology. The start of our transformation came about as we reached the end of a key project to implement our enterprise resource planning system, because this enabled us to move onto other strategic initiatives.

Embedding a quality customer experience

Technology helps us to show customers the products we can offer them. Some of the jewellery we stock in our retail stores is very expensive to keep. This can mean that we are unlikely to have exactly the right size, weight, colour and cut of a diamond, fitted on the right ring, that a customer might be looking for.

At Chaumet, we have developed a system, called Set On Demand, tied into our off-the-shelf enterprise resource planning technology. It enables us to show the customer what we have in stock, and what products might look like in their budget and their preferred design and proportions. The system can also automatically log the order, and send it to our workshops to provide the finished product within two to three weeks.

The design movement

Technology is also vital in transforming how we produce our luxury items. For our Zenith and TAG Heuer watch ranges, we have a digital simulation system that enables us to effectively test the watch before production.

Using the customised system, we can make sure the mechanical movement can cope correctly with all events, including the expected environments it will operate in, and special occurrences like February 29 in any leap year. Additionally, we can simulate exactly what the design of the watch movement will sound like. The design system is also linked directly into our enterprise resource planning, enabling us to quickly produce the final outcome.

Mobilising change for staff

A key part of our digital transformation has been around mobility, and enabling staff to carry out their work wherever they are. Our sales force can now use our customer relationship management system to directly check stock, as well as the presentation of our items, among our retail partners.

We have customised our CRM system so that sales staff can easily log the quality of our stock presentation, recording simple marks around key performance indicators such as whether we are near the front of the store, if we are located next to high-quality or lower quality brands, and how well we are presented. We can also easily bring out information about what was supplied in the past and track what has been sold.

The CRM system also enables us to watch our after sales channel, which is very important to us. We can see the level of quality of the products being returned, as well as get a sense of scale of counterfeit or stolen products appearing in these locations.

The crossroads of tradition and modernity

To some people, there could be a clash between the very latest technology and ways of doing things, and the very traditional and artistic elements of our design and presentation. We understand that IT is there to support our design, retail and overall operations, and that some of the younger customers and designers might be more likely to use the latest technology. There is a big shift taking place and we are keen to work with these opportunities where they are needed.

Our business will continue to transform as a whole, as the concept of apps, originated in mobility, permeates the business. We have plenty of interesting ideas around offering apps within the business, to allow departments to choose particular systems. The role of the CIO in all industries is changing to become an enabler, and if it continues to mean the role supports the very best design and operations, then this is a fantastic trend.