A successful digital transformation for InfoPro Digital

Christophe Czajka is not a typical leader. As the founder and current CEO of InfoPro Digital, he reveals to Apax Talks how he is leading the digital transformation of his media group, which now numbers over 350 web developers and specialists, making it one of the largest French software development companies.

Cultivate your paranoia

CHRISTOPHE-CZAJKAThe head of InfoPro Digital claims to experience “paranoia” in relation to the opportunities that arise in his business. “You have to stay paranoid to grow very fast” he explains. His method has proved its worth given that InfoPro Digital’s digital transformation has enabled the group to expand its media business to explore other opportunities. “We very quickly realised that it was not so much a matter of transforming our business, as of entering business sectors where we did not have a presence” notes Christophe Czajka, using software publishing as an example. “Digital technology is not about creating a web version of Le Moniteur (a magazine dedicated to construction and public works entities, bought by the group in 2013). We have developed a new business, leads generation ».

Leads generation consists in connecting prospects seeking product or service opportunities with those who offer them. “A much evolved type of directory, if you will” explains Christophe Czajka. InfoPro Digital has become the leader in this market in France within just a few years. This is another (very strong) growth driver for InfoPro Digital, which, in the words of the CEO, “has nothing to do with our historic business”.

“Why is digital interesting? Because it is an opportunity!” continues Christophe Czajka. InfoPro Digital’s digital solutions command a higher price than paper solutions: they provide greater depth of information and can be incorporated in clients’ IT systems.

An R&D philosophy: trial & error

Among the “musts” for a leader: know your company’s new tools. “You have to get into the details of the technology” advises Christophe Czajka, referring back to two mistakes that are symptoms of a poor understanding of technical questions: underestimating the complexity of a technology and the time needed for the implementation of a project.

His 3 tips

  • Cultivate your paranoia.
  • Test, try and learn!
  • Know that digital represents an opportunity.

To keep his company at the cutting edge, Christophe Czajka has developed an R&D culture that is “rather atypical for media groups”. Around 30 new products are launched every year. “Among these, roughly two-thirds catch on, with varying rates of success” explains the InfoPro Digital CEO, while specifying that failures are not penalised.

The Group’s philosophy? Trial and error. In other words, “better a website that is online than a perfect website”. Christophe Czajka assigns ultra-motivated teams with limited budgets to tackle new projects. The CEO does not fear internal competition, or even cannibalisation – new projects may compete directly with existing products. Christophe Czajk’s position on this subject is clear: “It’s better to be overtaken by one of our own projects than by an external competitor”.

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Within the project teams, the group brings together digital expertise (often young employees) and “the old guard, who hold the vital business skills”. Christophe Czajka makes no mistake: what counts in the end is the client – not the technology.

Beware of digital obsession

Although the leader must give his full attention to digital technology, it must not become an obsession. Christophe Czajka is very clear: “If the leader spends 90% of his time talking about digital, what will the employees who do not work on these new business lines think? That they are of no use”. InfoPro Digital’s CEO insists that digital technology must be seen as an opportunity by the entire company. “Paper is not dead. Digital technology has shown that multi-media devices work best”.

To be avoided in his opinion:

  • Not 100% digital, take all your employees into consideration.
  • Do not be afraid of start-ups.
  • Do not underestimate the complexity and the time needed for implementation.

It is up to the leader to unite the teams around a project that involves all employees, including those worried about digital technology, “there are traditional pockets of resistance, which sometimes have legitimate concerns, which oppose digital transformation. You have to listen and open up a dialogue, while remaining on track”.

Another trap for leaders: anxiety regarding start-ups. “Many leaders have developed a start-up phobia. They view them as threats to their business” remarks Christophe Czajka, who sees this as a common overreaction. “Our only paranoia, is seeking out opportunities” concludes the InfoPro Digital CEO.

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Apax Talks is a digital magazine aimed at company managers. It presents growth levers for SMEs, with a focus on TMT, consumer, healthcare and services sectors.