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C.A.Papaellinas Group: Shaping the digital world

Our Group’s Chief Transformation Officer, Mrs. Maria Germanou, talks about the digital transformation journey of C.A.PAPAELLINAS Group in InBusiness.

C.A.Papaellinas Group strives to constantly strengthen the digital transformation strategy that has implemented over the past years, focusing primarily on boosting innovation, strengthening corporate and teamwork culture, empowering human resources and optimizing customer experience.

Changes are drastic and aimed at balanced and sustainable development.
Οι κύριοι άξονες στο ταξίδι του ψηφιακού μετασχηματισμού
First of all, tell us what digital transformation means for C.A.Papaellinas Group and, in general, how much importance do you attach to it, as it represents a major challenge for every modern organisation?

For C.A.Papaellinas Group, digital transformation is a pivotal challenge of strategic nature, as I assume it is for all modern businesses that want to evolve and thrive in the future. The major technological evolution of the last five years drives businesses to undergo change at a much faster pace. For our Group, the implementation of the digital transformation strategy is the result of an integrated plan of actions and decisions aimed at leading the organisation towards a sustainable and balanced development.

How much progress has your group made in this area and what advances have actually been made?

The Group is quite advanced in the field of digitalisation. Many advances have been made in recent years as we seek to make drastic and significant changes through our strategy, with the aim of optimising both customer and employee experience. Therefore, our actions have been based on two pillars: the first pillar has been focused on those actions aimed at our customers and the improvement of their experience and interaction with us. In this regard, several projects have been implemented and various applications have been adopted, such as the Mobile Apps of the Beauty Line and Holland and Barrett retail chains offering an integrated customer experience; the installation of Footfall and Heatmap systems in these chains for more reliable customer insights; the upgrade of the CRM software to implement even more targeted marketing strategies; the adoption of mobile PoS for a faster customer service during payment process, etc.

At the same time, we have adopted a custom-made B2B platform to facilitate our communication with the Group’s pharmacy network. Through the platform, pharmacists can be informed about products and offers while placing online orders to our warehouses for immediate delivery. Furthermore, electronic signatures and electronic invoicing have both been integrated into our daily routine.

The second pillar aims to improve our employees’ experience through the adoption of tools and practices designed to simplify the complex tasks and automatise those that are repetitive. For instance, we have installed Robotic Process Automation for all repetitive tasks, making time for more quality work.

In an effort to respond to today’s challenges in healthcare, we have further strengthened the role of medical representatives by providing them with the leading CRM tool, Veeva platform. Veeva provides advanced scheduling and coordination functionalities for medical representative visits and allows medical representatives to interact with Health Professionals not only in person.

We have introduced the Blue Jam internal communication and interaction platform, offering the Group’s staff new information and interconnection channels. Moreover, eLearning has largely replaced live seminars and training courses, enabling our staff members to continue their personal development and strengthen their knowledge over their smartphone.

Did the transformation occur purely as a result of the pandemic for your group or had it already occurred before?

Digital transformation is undoubtedly the biggest challenge businesses are facing today. This is not a simple technological upgrade or modernisation but a matter of survival. C.A.Papaellinas Group began its digital transformation journey before the pandemic. In November 2019, we embarked on a journey with the initial purpose to highlight those areas which the group should focus on and proceed with their immediate digitalisation. It was clear that it would have been a long journey, with important milestones along the way. The core objective was to optimise, simplify and automatise the Group’s daily operations, with the introduction of practical and effective tools, leading the Group into the harmonised digital age.

What are the main pillars which your Group’s digital transformation focuses on?

Our vision, “To make more and more people live and feel better”, through our digital transformation journey has become a stable and consistent model strengthening even further our relationship with our Customers, Employees and Associates. Through our strategy, we strive to make drastic and significant changes aiming at the balanced and sustainable development of our Group. We primarily focus on encouraging and boosting innovation, strengthening teamwork culture, empowering human resources and, most certainly, optimising our customer experience.

A large-scale digital transformation that meets the needs of a large organisation like yours surely needs to educate and train its human resources. How did you act, as management, with regard to this chapter and what were the results?

It is a given that digital transformation efforts depend directly on the existence of appropriately skilled human resources, who are those mostly called upon to adopt and manage the new changes and initiatives of the organisation. As we have already said, the digital transformation of an organisation includes a radical change of its models, operations, processes, marketing approach, even its goals and strategy. In our case, HR supported and still supports this effort. It managed to create a working environment that constantly deploys digital technologies, reinforcing the human resources’ commitment. We started our digital transformation journey from the HR by providing important digital tools to the staff as well as digital skills training. From the beginning, our goal has been to digitise and automate all time-consuming operations and mechanically carried out processes of the HR, such as part of the recruitment process, evaluations, or the new employee onboarding process in order to improve both candidate and employee experience. Therefore, HR can now be able to devote more resources to much more qualitative and strategic tasks with the use of modern technologies that are essential for attracting, satisfying and retaining employees.

As a group, you have taken major steps in this area. How would you consider the situation that generally prevails in Cyprus and particularly in the public sector, especially in the part that affects the business world, and what do you think should change?

I am not in a position to report on the reasons which prevent the public sector from proceeding with an integrated digital transformation; however, it could apparently be further ahead than it is today. Although steps have been taken in the right direction, there is still room for improvement. There are simple transactions between businesses and the public sector that could be simplified with the use of technology (e.g. electronic invoicing, social security and exchange of documents, submission of applications for benefits, etc.), thus creating conditions favourable to the implementation of more innovative and demanding projects which bring about a change. The additional staffing of the public sector with people who have the knowledge and experience in this area would definitely strengthen and accelerate the effort.

Technological developments have no beginning nor ending, they are not static. On the contrary; they are constantly changing. What actions do you take to stay on top of developments?

Our core values of Integrity, Responsibility, Passion, Simplicity and Innovation manifest that being on top of developments is in our DNA. As a group, we are never complacent; on the contrary, we always strive to move forward, seeing the future through our own lens. In the field of technology, we are making much faster progress as the group is staffed by a very competent technology team that consists of professionals in the field, who have a thorough knowledge of systems and technologies and work with leading companies in the industry, adopting and investing in state-of-the-art solutions and systems.

Maria Germanou, Chief Operating Officer