Nicolas Babin is an agile Senior Executive with over 35 years of international, multilingual, and multicultural experience. He is a Key Opinion Leader and Influencer for many international brands as well as Start-ups and Scale-ups. He has had management experience in both the East and West, setting up and managing international teams in Europe, US, and Japan. Nicolas has started and developed over 26 companies in the US, UK, and France. He has been involved with AI since 1996, launching the robotic division for Sony Europe and has received many distinguished awards. He has had two IPO experiences on the Nasdaq and NYSE and many Fundraising experiences.
Nicolas is also a sought-after international keynote speaker on innovation, e-health, digital and robotics. He is also the author of the award-winning book called ‘The talking dog’ – immersion in new technologies. He has sat and sits on several boards in the US, Europe, and Japan. Currently, Nicolas is the President at Babin Business Consulting.
Recently, in an interview with CXO Magazine, Nicholas revealed the keys to driving successful digital transformation. He also shed light on his professional journey, personal role models, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
How do you define successful digital transformation?
Digital transformation will allow change management and cultural transformation. Most importantly, digital transformation will allow you and your company to survive in this uncertain world. Digital transformation will not only help companies but also employees to understand why customers have evolved and why it is a must to ensure they match customer needs and ways to purchase.
Successful digital transformation requires a clear vision, a well-defined strategy, and a strong execution plan. It also requires a strong focus on culture and leadership, as well as a commitment to ongoing learning and innovation. By embracing digital transformation, organizations can drive growth, improve efficiency, and deliver a better experience for their customers.
Which are the emerging technologies that will play a significant role in the digital transformation process in the next five years?
As we have recently seen, generative AI is an emerging technology that is already playing a significant role in digital transformation. It can be Generative AI for pictures, videos, music, and text. All these new tools will allow humans to be augmented. It will help humans to be free from mundane activities.
Other technologies that will play a significant role will be around the web3 environment such as the Metaverse. New communication and commercial channels are appearing, and companies will need to adapt to ensure they optimise customer experience and journey.
Nicolas, please walk us through your professional journey. What made you choose this path?
I started to work in 1988 as a programmer for IBM in France. Then I moved to California in 1989 as I had graduated from my master’s degree and went into management. After over 35 years of working and living in the US, UK, Belgium, Japan, Germany, and France, I realised that the main thread throughout my career has always been around new technologies. As I have a degree in computer science, I understand how it works. I found myself involved with new technologies from the beginning. In California, I was part of an ecosystem that thrived on new technologies. As I was present during the launch of internet to the public and participated in the launch of GPS for cars as well as AI based robots, I was very fortunate to have been at the right place and at the right time.
When you were growing up, was there a certain turning point in your life that influenced your passion for technology?
In 1981, as I had just turned 15, a friend of mine bought a ZX81 computer from Sinclair. One of the first personal computers. You had to connect it to your TV, and it had 1K octet of memory. It was the beginning of computers for the general public. I then bought one and started to program on it. I was hooked and knew very quickly that this was what I wanted to do.
Brief us about Babin Business Consulting. Tell us more about your company’s vision and the innovation it aims to bring to the industry globally.
Babin Business Consulting has a unique expertise in the digital workspace. It provides advice and guidance for marketing, business development, digital transformation, and innovation projects. We are involved with large corporations, scale-ups, and start-ups. We specialized in mentoring and guiding companies throughout the challenges of transforming all their activities using innovative technologies.
You have successfully executed various innovative strategies in your career. Which ones work the best in today’s world?
I was involved as mentioned above in the launch of GPS systems for cars. I believe this is the technology that has best adapted and been the most useful since the beginning. Sony launched their first GPS system back in 1994 and it was very disruptive. The strategy and vision were very gutsy and proved to be right as today it has become part of our lives. Moreover, Artificial Intelligence based robots for entertainment and innovation is also one of the projects I am the most proud of.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I can name 2 people who have had a tremendous impact on me as a leader. First Hirohito Kawada who was the CEO of Etak (part of the Sony group), the company that launched the first digital maps to be used for GPS systems. The second one is Satoshi Amagai who was the CEO of Entertainment Robot Company at Sony. They both influenced me because their visions were crystal clear, the respect they had for their staff was limitless and they were both a great source of inspiration. There was never a question we could not ask them. They were both very approachable and humble. All values that I try to incorporate in my work.
What is one strategy that you believe has helped you grow as an entrepreneur?
I am a curious person. I want to learn, and I want to understand how technology can improve lives. For every problem there is a solution. This mindset has helped me set up and develop over 26 companies today.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
This is the hardest question of all. If you had asked me that 5 years ago, I could not have known that Covid was going to change our lives. With Covid, digital transformation projects have accelerated because we need to approach the way we do business differently. People had their backs against the wall and needed to be disrupted. It happened naturally because the pandemic imposed it on us. So, where will I be in 5 years? The only clear answer to this is still involved with new technologies. However, I could not answer which ones or how. I need to continue to be agile and ensure I stay on top of my game.
Throughout your career, you have and continue to don numerous hats and excel in all the roles. What is your secret mantra for being successful?
I respect people I work with tremendously. I listen to their ideas, we collaborate and if it works then great, if not we pivot. As a leader I see myself as a door opener. I ensure all obstacles are removed and my teams can implement our strategies and follow their journeys to the best of their abilities.
One piece of advice you would like to give to the budding digital transformation consultants.
There is an old Japanese saying that states: fall down 7 times, stand back up 8. Life is not easy and there are always challenges ahead. The journey is bumpy, however if you can manage to always overcome the challenges, you will succeed!