MILAN Thinking together will go a long way, according to Moncler.
The fashion group will hold its first hackathon on July 4, a 24-hour marathon during which 450 employees from around the world will meet to put their heads together as they look for new, innovative solutions. The intention is to prove that co-creation, together with a digital culture, can be efficient generators and accelerators of innovation.
The employees will work on the development of projects across nine strategic areas, ranging from product and IT to supply chain, sustainability and the internal Academy, which stems from the first MONcampus that was launched last year which is dedicated to training young talents in the company — a theme the hackathon is meant to develop and deploy.
At the end of the event, meant to leverage the interaction between employees, the projects will be judged based on the criteria of desirability and business impact.
The marathon will be held in an industrial space in Milan where time will be measured through the digital image of a forest that will symbolically represent the actual planting of 2,000 trees over the past few weeks in the woods of Comacchio and Sala Baganza, in the Emilia-Romagna region, with the collaboration of environmental association AzzeroCO2.

Here,  Moncler chairman and chief executive officer Remo Ruffini waves the flag for innovation and upholds the value of people “that make the magic happen,” despite the increasing penetration of technology, digital platforms and artificial intelligence.

WWD: What are the reasons that motivated you to organize a hackathon?

Remo Ruffini: The world is changing at an unprecedented pace and companies need to be more flexible and open to explore always new territories. To me the Moncler Hackathon represents a combination of three of the most important drivers of this changing paradigm: innovation mind-set, digital culture and cross-collaboration. I consider it very powerful having teams made up of people of different cultures, expertise and visions working together with a strong focus on innovation and digital tools as enablers. It will be a hub of inventiveness and energy.

WWD: I see that innovation is at the center of the event and surely it is part of the history of Moncler. What do you hope to achieve and what results to you have in mind? 

R.R.: I think that this innovation marathon will for sure bring some good ideas. I would not be surprised if new interesting ideas will also come from people that are not the actual subject matter experts. Frankly, to me the Moncler Hackathon’s objective is to build on our culture of innovation. Innovation should be a natural aptitude and the Moncler Hackathon is a way to encourage it. I want that each of our people feel in charge of innovation every day, at all levels.

WWD: What does the hackathon formula offer? 

R.R.: Moncler Hackathon gives the opportunity to build a community of people focusing for 24 hours on innovation with the help of the design-thinking methodology and its human-centric approach. Bringing together people from different parts of the world and with different competences will for sure create a lot of [cross-pollination, which] always in itself brings value. I also expect it will make our sense of belonging even stronger, reinforcing the pride to be Moncler.

WWD: What does it mean for you to regroup 450 employees? Is there still a stronger attention to people despite the advances of technology?

R.R.: I have always thought that it is not enough to bring in the most advanced technology to be considered an innovator. Technology is important but it is mainly a tool, an enabler. The difference is made by the people and by their inventiveness and human connections. It’s always the people that make the magic happen when it comes to envisioning new solutions.

WWD: Can you provide details on the Moncler Academy?

R.R.: We are actually working to evolve our internal Academy and we want it to be “very Moncler.” I have in mind an adaptive academy that evolves together with the organization. An academy focused on the company’s strategic priorities and on the skills necessary to reach them. Above all, an academy that has people at the center. We want it to be strongly experiential and collaborative where people can learn from real cases. It will be supported by Artificial Intelligence tools as we want it to be digital. But also very human as we all know that if emotions are not switched on, people engage and learn less. We will work on competences but also on soft skills that are becoming more and more important in this cross-functional way of collaborating: people should learn to be leaders but also good followers and teammates depending on the project. Finally, the academy will work to strengthen areas of improvement but also to further reinforce and nurture the distinctive talent that everyone has, the genius that lives inside everyone….

WWD: Sustainability is increasingly central for companies. How are you developing it and what do your customers ask from Moncler in this regard? 

R.R.: More and more people want to work for companies with which they share the same values, and the same happens to consumers. Consumers expect companies to be concerned and committed on environmental, social and ethical issues and to act accordingly.

I believe that a responsible company is made of responsible people. And as for the digital, I think that sustainability should be a culture and not only a department.

In 2015, we created a sustainability unit whose main role is to strengthen and spread the culture of sustainability throughout the company. A lot has been done but I am also aware that sustainability has no final destination and it’s a never-ending challenge.

WWD: Do you think that a new model or prototype will emerge from the hackathon, and do you already have something in mind to develop?

R.R.: I think that people will surprise us but, again, I think that the main goal of the initiative is to put different people around the same table, generating positive energy, experiencing a new way of collaboration and somehow feeling as shapers of Moncler’s future.

WWD: What digital projects are you working on? 

R.R.: Our approach to digital is comprehensive and affects all the company’s activities. As per the working space, we are testing different digital tools to share information and foster collaboration. In terms of shopping experience we are working on an omnichannel vision aimed at integrating all the touchpoints and leveraging on a seamless approach for the client.

With Facebook and Google we are also experimenting with tools of geo-localization to drive traffic to the store passing from online to offline. Moreover, in partnership with Google we use big data to offer our clients always a personalized experience.

Lastly, on June 10 we have started our own managed e-commerce in Korea.

At the supply chain level, we are using Artificial Intelligence through predictive analysis and machine learning from both a production and distribution end.

WWD: How has the Genius project changed your way of working, thinking and producing?

R.R.: The real Moncler Genius revolution has been from the inside even if you can’t see it. In the last two years internal change has not only been constant but also exponential.

The execution of the Moncler Genius project is quite complex as the collective synchronization needed for delivering the right product at the right time, in the right place, requires big organizational, managerial and logistic efforts. Within the company, this has translated also into new ways of organizing, performing as well as into a new leadership style. With Moncler Genius we became more cross-functional in our way of working, less hierarchical and with a shared leadership approach based on empowerment. I feel like our usual “offices” have become real “war rooms…”

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