Apps Run The World

Airbus Group Digital Transformation Initiatives

Apps Run The World

About the Customer

Airbus Group, a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services, offering a broad array of advanced solutions to meet military and commercial requirements, including fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, homeland security systems, public safety communications, defense electronics, and avionics, and threat detection systems.

Scope and Challenges

Established industries such as aerospace and engineering have a reputation for being slow to change their IT systems. But the doctrine of incremental change is falling out of favor, according to experienced HR director Mark Judd, who has recently joined cloud applications vendor Workday as Vice President of HCM Product Strategy, EMEA.

In his prior role as HR IT and Services Solutions Director at engine maker Rolls-Royce, he had overseen its implementation of Workday HCM. He recalls weighing up with the CIO and CHRO the choice between incremental migration versus a more radical progression.

Outcome and Implications

At HR Tech World in Amsterdam last month, Arnaud Raffray, VP of HR Transformation & Digital at aircraft maker Airbus explained why his company had chosen a transformation path for its Workday roll-out to 134,000 global employees. The organization had been very hierarchical, very ‘command and control’, and needed to be bold to introduce a new system that would be more global, standardized and employee-centric, he says: "We believe it’s just in changing the entire ecosystem that we can achieve this."

Raffray outlined five lessons learned at Airbus from the project:

  • - Take time to step back at the beginning. Speak to peers, build a solid plan.
  • - Take the chance to onboard people during the change.
  • - Involve security from the beginning.
  • - Don’t underestimate the work required to migrate core data from SAP to Workday.
  • - If you do not make the transformation you will not make the change.

Mark Judd’s description of incremental migration rings true. Experience shows that introducing change too gradually proves counter-productive and costly. Although it takes more courage and determination to embark on a broader transformation, the payback is worth it. It’s telling that even very large global organizations in established industries are now taking the plunge into more radical digital transformation. It’s no longer the pioneers doing this. It’s mainstream.


"I think moving to the cloud in Workday is a generational change for business solutions. Probably the most significant generational change. The expectation of constant evolution underwriting innovation, being there and evolving, it feels very different to me now. I do feel that businesses that move towards a product like ours are making decisions for the next generation there. It should be a 20 or 30-year investment and it will evolve. It is the beginning of change." Said - Arnaud Raffray, VP of HR Transformation & Digital at Airbus Group

"The evolutionary path is there. It’s low risk and ultimately some aspects of it will be cheaper - but it might take longer, and then we could get the funding pulled at any time and we won’t catalyze a transformation process. Or we could do a complete revolution. At the time, circumstances were such at the company where it actually resonated better to do the revolution.

I think increasingly business is realizing that the small incremental changes that they’ve invested in end up being quite a drain on funding. They don’t tend to demonstrate to the business a concerted effort to change, and the businesses themselves can’t move any quicker. It just becomes a frustrating kind of smorgasbord of different technologies, processes and solutions." Said - Mark Judd, Vice President of HCM Product Strategy, EMEA at Workday.

Mendelweg 30
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Industry Employees Revenue
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Enterprise Software & Cloud Applications Purchased by Airbus Group

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Microsoft Legacy Applications Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customer Relationship Management CRM n/a n/a 2016 2016
Subscribe Subscribe Subscribe Human Capital Management HCM Subscribe Subscribe 2015 2015

IT Decision Makers and Key Stakeholders at Airbus Group

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