Commerce Transformation Days 2019 – Summary

This year’s conference, organized for the first time with the ICAN Institute, the publisher of MIT Sloan Review Polska, is the consecutive sixth event (following the 5th edition of the Congress of E-commerce Directors) created to exchange experiences between brand representatives actively developing their sales on the Internet.

Bearing in mind the importance of the human aspect of the digital transformation, we were confident that the ICAN Institute, an expert in development programs for managerial staff and a solid provider of reliable knowledge, would be an excellent partner for the organization of such a large event.

Our invitation to speak at the conference was accepted by companies such as RTV EURO AGD, Santander Consumer Bank, Tagesspiegel, TrendActors, Blue Media, Answear.com, Wearfits, W.Kruk, GS1 Allwins, AWS and trainers from ICAN Institute. We are thankful that Commerce Transformation Days 2019 attracted so many participants and served as a meeting place for specialists from a host of industries: financial, clothing, logistics, online payments, rail, transport, publishing and FMCG.

In addition to speeches and discussion panels, the conference also provided time for intensive networking, both during coffee breaks where the topics discussed in presentations were continued, as well as the evening gala, where all conference participants actively established business relations. Based on the experience of our previous events – Congresses of E-commerce Directors – we know how important it is for participants at such meetings to be able to make direct contact with experts and industry leaders. This is why we work to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to meet over coffee or dinner.

The examples given by Dr Witold Jankowski (ICAN, Harvard Business Review Poland) during his opening speech at the conference proved that the digital transformation is already underway, regardless of the involvement of companies in this process. Change is inevitable if a company wants to keep up with the evolving market and the competition. Although for some the process of digital transformation remains imperceptible, because it occurs gradually, it is impossible to avoid engagement in this transformation.

Digital transformation is a change that needs to be made with different people who often think differently. The basis of this change is understanding yourself.

– says Dr Witold Jankowski, ICAN Institute.
Witold Jankowski (ICAN Institute) – inspirational speech on the ongoing transformation of digital B2B sales transformation

Next, Grzegorz Rudno-Rudziński appeared on the stage and continued the topics taken up by Witold Jankowski. In his presentation ‘How to make technology support – not block – changes in sales?’ – he showed that the transformation of sales processes requires a good foundation in agile methodologies and quickly adaptable architecture. Grzegorz based his speech on very interesting business cases from the Unity Group portfolio, such as the transformation of IT architecture in Volkswagen Group Poland based on the implementation of API Led Connectivity built on Mule ESB, as well as the development of an on-line sales system implemented for RTV EURO AGD. Unity’s cooperation with this brand has continued for almost 15 years now. During those years of working together on the development of an e-commerce platform we’ve gone through a lot together. From pilot tests on how to do business online through scaling e-commerce, integrated project sales process and business agility to a flexible IT architecture.

Grzegorz Rudno-Rudziński during the lecture ‘How to make technology support – not block – changes in sales?’

E-commerce in the fashion industry

Subsequent presentations concerned the development of e-commerce in the fashion industry. We asked Michael Turk (Spryker Systems) with Nicolas Metzke (Melvin & Hamilton) to present their experience and knowledge on the challenges that await online store owners in a customer-focused world.

This thread was also continued by panelists in the discussion led by Tomasz Gutkowski: Łukasz Rzepecki (Wearfits), Bartłomiej Twardosz (W.Kruk), Wojciech Tomaszewski (Answear.com) and Krystian Wesołowski (Blue Media). The panel was a great opportunity to gain knowledge on how to conquer foreign markets, maintain customer loyalty and reduce the return ratio.

In the second half of the first day of Commerce Transformation Days 2019, we focused on the issue of digital transformation in B2B and employee perspectives on this process of change.

Digital logistics in B2B and agile mindset

For Artur Piekarczyk (Allwins), the digital transformation is primarily a change in mentality and restructuring of the entire company. Existing processes (full of bad habits) are often blockers of successful digitization. Companies that make profits without undergoing transformation unfortunately do not have scaling paths. Artur’s speech was an interestingly told story from the perspective of the practitioner, in which he stressed that the essence of digital transformation is to change the way people managing a company think.

New technology is not a cure for all problems. Problems should be solved before implementing new technology.

– concluded Artur Piekarczyk, Head of Consulting at Unity Group.
Artur Piekarczyk

One of the topics tackled at the end of the first day of the conference was agile methodologies and an organizational culture that fosters digital transformation. Anna Bogdańska (Digital Development Director RTV Euro AGD), Piotr Żabski (Vice President of the Management Board of Santander Consumer Bank), Robert Regeńczuk (Project Manager at Unity Group ) and Anna Łakomy (ICAN Institute trainer) discussed how agile works in practice and how the approaches of business owners, directors and programmers differ. This panel was also an opportunity to talk in public in-depth for the first time about project cooperation between Unity Group and RTV Euro AGD – one of the first Polish companies selling electronic equipment and household appliances.

We stopped talking about how to do something the cheapest way, and began to think about how to make the necessary changes as soon as possible. Creating an e-commerce infrastructure requires an agile philosophy, not only in the area of IT, but also in the dimension of the entire organization.

– says Grzegorz Rudno-Rudziński, Managing Partner at Unity Group.

How to improve your business?

Scalable sales models, cooperation with start-ups and the use of artificial intelligence in business – all these topics were raised on the second day of Commerce Transformation Days 2019.

Arno Nienhuis from TrendActors talked about how technology allows you to increase transactions volumes, shorten sales cycles and improve predictability, and also gave interesting examples from the field of artificial intelligence (AI), as well as how autonomous algorithms can both save and earn money for companies.

Robin Müller (Tagesspiegel.de), by showing interesting data and presenting how the press publishing business works from the inside, emphasized how important it is to focus on the business model and the nuances associated with it, rather than using off-the-shelf technology instead of building it from scratch.

Robin Müller (Tagesspiegel.de) during the lecture ‘Content monetization and paywall strategies’

During the discussion panel about startups, led by Bernard Gołko (Souter Investments), we discussed how Unity Group, as a co-founder, is developing the project www.oneb2b.pl – a B2B trading platform to support online and traditional sales, available in a subscription model.

Discussion panel: ‘How does artificial intelligence help achieve business results?’

At the end of the second day, Sebastian Błaszkiewicz, sales director at Unity Group, led another discussion panel – ‘How does artificial intelligence help achieve business results?’ His guests were Grzegorz J. Nalepa (Professor of the Jagiellonian University and AGH, AI expert), Tomasz Stachlewski (chief architect of cloud systems in the Amazon Web Services in Poland) and Maciej Pondel (product manager and machine learning researcher at upsaily.com). The panel, which started with a quote from one of the best futurologists our time, Stanislaw Lem, aimed to showcase the opportunities and benefits achievable through implementation of AI in our companies. However, our panelists also worked to ensure that we keep in mind potential threats and skilfully use the obtained information.

Discussion panel: ‘How does artificial intelligence help achieve business results?’

While this was the first edition of the Commerce Transformation Days conference, for Unity Group it was a continuation of our mission of spreading awareness and knowledge about the digital transformation. With 20 years of experience successfully implementing e-commerce solutions and carrying out comprehensive commerce transformation processes, we are aware of the need for change and the evolution that awaits sales. Using our experience and the knowledge of our business partners, we hope that meetings such as Commerce Transformation Days will help companies find the answers to the tough questions faced in conducting their digital sales transformation.

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