Hey there! Welcome to the Marketer Of The Month blog!
We recently interviewed Hugo Hamad for our monthly podcast – ‘Marketer of the Month’! We had some amazing insightful conversations with Hugo and here’s what we discussed about-
1. Passion for Technology in Professional Journey.
2. Al’s Impact on Customer Experience at Decathlon.
3. Challenges and Solutions in Implementing Al at Decathlon.
4. Strategies for Al Deployment and Adoption.
5. Exciting Upcoming Al Projects at Decathlon.
6. Measuring Success and ROI in Al Implementations.
About our host:
Dr. Saksham Sharda is the Chief Information Officer at Outgrow.co. He specializes in data collection, analysis, filtering, and transfer by means of widgets and applets. Interactive, cultural, and trending widgets designed by him have been featured on TrendHunter, Alibaba, ProductHunt, New York Marketing Association, FactoryBerlin, Digimarcon Silicon Valley, and at The European Affiliate Summit.
About our guest:
Hugo Hamad is the Director of AI at Decathlon Digital where his mission is to make life easier for data users and help businesses take advantage of Data & ML in production. With more than 14 years of experience, he focuses on implementing strategies and tools to enhance the efficiency and quality of deploying AI models while engaging various professionals in creating tailored solutions.
EPISODE 138: From Sportswear to Software: Decathlon’s Director of AI Hugo Hamad on How AI is Upgrading Sports
Table of Contents
Saksham Sharda: Hi, everyone. Welcome to another episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Saksham Sharda, and I’m the creative director at Outgrow. co. And for this month we are going to interview Hugo Hamad who is the Director of AI at Decathlon Digital.
Hugo Hamad: Great to be here. Thank you.
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Or you can just listen to it on Spotify!
The Rapid Fire Round!
Saksham Sharda: Okay. Alright, so we’re going to start with the rapid-fire round. The first one is, at what age do you want to retire?
Hugo Hamad: Ideally, 55.
Saksham Sharda: How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
Hugo Hamad: Five minutes.
Saksham Sharda: Most embarrassing moment of your life.
Hugo Hamad: Pass.
Saksham Sharda: Favorite color?
Hugo Hamad: Blue.
Saksham Sharda: What time of day are you most inspired?
Hugo Hamad: Early in the morning.
Saksham Sharda: How many hours of sleep can you survive on?
Hugo Hamad: Five to six.
Saksham Sharda: Fill in the blank. An upcoming technology trend is ________.
Hugo Hamad: Pass.
Saksham Sharda: The city in which the best kiss of your life happened?
Hugo Hamad: London.
Saksham Sharda: Pick one. Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk.
Hugo Hamad: Mark.
Saksham Sharda: How do you relax?
Hugo Hamad: Music.
Saksham Sharda: The biggest mistake of your career?
Hugo Hamad: Pass
Saksham Sharda: How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?
Hugo Hamad: Three or four.
Saksham Sharda: A habit of yours that you hate?
Hugo Hamad: Not sleeping a lot.
Saksham Sharda: The most valuable skill you’ve learned in life.
Hugo Hamad: Be generous.
Saksham Sharda: Your favorite Netflix show?
Hugo Hamad: At the moment, Cooper.
Saksham Sharda: One-word description of your leadership style.
Hugo Hamad: I think generosity.
Saksham Sharda: Top priority in your daily schedule.
Hugo Hamad: Delivering value.
Saksham Sharda: Memorable career milestone.
Hugo Hamad: Yeah. What I’m doing right now, I take that.
The Big Questions!
Saksham Sharda: Okay. Well, that’s the end of the rapid-fire. Now we can go to the longer questions which you can answer with as much time and ease. The first one is, can you elaborate on any milestones in your journey that shaped your passion for AI and led you to your role as the Director of AI at Decathlon?
Hugo Hamad: Well, I’ve always been passionate about how technology can impact our daily lives and how it can deliver value for society, businesses, and the market. So I studied computer science and I went directly through the world of data and artificial intelligence, passing by a world of startups, banking groups, and today retail.
Saksham Sharda: So were there any specific projects or mentors that played a pivotal role in this journey that you’ve had?
Hugo Hamad: Yeah. For like 10 years, I have been focusing on how we can bring the technology, the artificial intelligence technology to the end user and how we can deliver the right product at the right moment for the end user, for our clients, or our teammates. So I was focusing on how we can work on people, work on processes, and work on platforms to bring this technology at the end of the day into the hands of our customers and our teammates.
Saksham Sharda: So in what ways has AI tech positively impacted the customer, customer experience, and overall efficiency of Decathlon’s operations? Can you share any success stories or metrics that demonstrate this impact?
Hugo Hamad: Yeah, sure. Decathlon aims to allow people to practice sports on their terms, regardless of their level of practice, their physical condition, or their objectives. We want to move people through the wonders of sports. So today we enter a new era when digital is the very essence of business and the business of the digital. So in Decathlon and especially on Decathlon Digital, we are walking with the security, data, the tech, with the digital to deliver an unparalleled sports user experience for our client and our teammates. So today we are empowering AI to respond and to deliver this value. For example, we are capable today of detecting the sport of our clients. We are capable of personalizing our recommendation through a CRM campaign or our e-commerce website. For example, 80% of our recommendations are personalized using our algorithm and our AI. We also use AI for our supply. For example, we optimize our forecast of demand for our products. We also forecast how we can optimally distribute the product into the warehouse on different bases.
Saksham Sharda: So how do you measure this return on investment of AI implementations at Decathlon? What are the key performance indicators KPIs to focus on to assess the success?
Hugo Hamad: I can pass on this question.
Saksham Sharda: So can you share some specific examples or challenges you’ve faced when implementing AI in an organization like Decathlon? And what strategies or solutions prove effective in upcoming strategies?
Hugo Hamad: So at Decathlon Digital, we want to democratize the use of AI at scale, thanks to an in-house AI factory. So, the AI factory at Decathlon Digital is the center of expertise in designing and developing AI products. We have the chance to recruit, to have several teams working to combine innovation with developing industrial solutions. So we are working on three typical enablers – people, how we recruit the right role, right expertise to work on the all value chain of AI and AI products. We work on our platform, so we are connected with our data platform to put in place the state of the art, of technology, of the tools, of the platform to deliver what we are delivering in AI for our use cases. And also, work on what we call process and guidelines, our practices to make our people, and our teams walk as tech teams to deliver industrial solutions at the end of the day. So the right way you develop an AI factory is to walk on these three pillars because we have already seen since 10 years ago some companies focus on only platforms. So they invest in the platform and invest in cluster big data, et cetera, without knowing that we need data engineers, we need an engineer, we need AI, etc. They also consulted only on people. So they include data scientists and lots of data scientists, but after all, we need more than data scientists to deliver value and deliver AI solutions. Other companies like tech companies focus on the practice, etc, without putting in place the right AI technology, AI tool, et cetera. So today we need to consult it on the three pillar process platform and people to deliver the right value, the right product AI if we want to make an in-house product, in-house solution, and build and run this solution for our clients or our internal teammates.
Saksham Sharda: So you mentioned helping businesses take advantage of data and machine learning in production. Could you provide insights into the key steps of technologies you are involved in to ensure that AI models are successfully deployed?
Hugo Hamad: Yeah, we figured out that the technical part is just like 30% of the challenges that we have. But 70% of the challenge is on the adoption, the change, and the organization. So we are working a lot on this part. If we are talking about adoption, I think there’s no magic, but there are enablers. Today I can give you three major enablers to optimize the adoption and also to push our business, and use our AI product. The first one, as I said before, is working on an industrial mindset, industrial processes, industrial products, and solutions. So don’t hesitate to deploy the most industrial product and use the state of the art of tools, state of the art of practice, and deliver to your end user and industrial product. The second one is looking for an ambassador on the business side. Today we try to push our solution to convince the business to use them, etc. But we are seeing that if we have ambassadors on the business side when they are convinced of the potential of the value that AI can generate, they can go and explain the value of this solution to the other business or the other business teams. So look for ambassadors on the business side. And the third enabler is about delivering experience. Don’t deliver just machine learning models or AI solutions or data pipelines or just Excel files, deliver user experience. So try to walk with the business from the beginning on what is the user experience that we are searching for, how you can build it with the business team, and how you can deliver it at the end of the day.
Saksham Sharda: Could you discuss any recent or upcoming AI projects or innovations that you are particularly excited about at Decathlon Digital?
Hugo Hamad: We work on a wide range of use cases. For example, we are using generative AI such as content generation for our product information. We are also working on using AI to optimize our pricing decisions and the selection of items for each store. Finally, we are working also on our image analysis such as the detection of defects in secondhand products. Our data and AI teamwork also on some topics like Monitoring and observability, how we can run AI in production in a safe way, and how we can deliver a trusted product and user experience for our products.
Saksham Sharda: The last question for you is of a personal kind. What would you be doing in your life, if not this right now?
Hugo Hamad: Playing football.
Saksham Sharda: Thanks, everyone for joining us for this month’s episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. That was Hugo Hamad who is the Director of AI at Decathlon Digital.
Hugo Hamad: Pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Saksham Sharda: Check out the website for more details and we’ll see you once again next month with another marketer of the month.