KIABI challenges BIB students on new uses of AI

Every year, as part of their “Fundamentals of Strategy” course, Bachelor in International Business students become consultants for a day, addressing a real issue presented by a company and related to its strategy and business model. 

Major international groups (Leroy Merlin, Boulanger…) and SMEs (such as Echappée Bière or Grand Scène) have already benefited from the advice of BIB students. This year, KIABI invited the students to work on the theme: “How to develop an AI strategy use for KIABI and create involvement from all employees and customers to find new AI uses”.

AI is the hot topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. So I wanted to confront the Bachelor in International Business students with this reality. AI can be a very powerful tool, and companies can reap many benefits from it – and even stand out from the competition by innovating and launching new uses before the other players in the sector. And paradoxically, on this subject, it’s hard to call on generative AI tools! The students had to understand KIABI’s strategy, then imagine the uses to which they, as consumers and employees alike, would like to have access, before analyzing the impact on the company’s business model… It was a fascinating case study!” explains Catherine ARCHAMBAULT, Professor of Strategy and Sustainability at IÉSEG.

Founded in 1978 in the North of France, KIABI revolutionized clothing industry by launching a low-cost fashion concept for all families. Today, KIABI is present in 26 countries with 606 retail locations. “Let’s make life easier for families and weave together responsible fashion and sustainable solutions” is the company’s Vision, co-constructed by its 10,000 employees. This optimistic, positive, innovative, singular and transformative line of vision provides the momentum to achieve a shared ambition: to become the preferred omnichannel fashion brand for families, everywhere in the world and, tomorrow, a responsible fashion platform that makes life easier for our customers… And to get there (faster?), integrating AI into the strategy would be a good idea?

That’s why Justine SANSON, Head of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at KIABI, came to challenge the Bachelor in International Business students: “Getting these students to work on KIABI’s AI strategy means collecting the point of view and analysis of this new generation of consumers, but also of the company’s future employees. It means benefiting from their analysis, their sensitivity to the CSR dimension but also to digital tools, and above all the chance to be confronted with the views and analysis of students from all over the world, who therefore have a very different vision of the company’s strategy. KIABI, like all companies, is thinking about the best way to integrate generative AI into its strategy, with a genuine desire to identify uses that improve the customer experience. It’s essential to be open to other people’s ideas, to exchange ideas on the cases of use that stand out the most.” 

 The students’ feedback was an opportunity for Justine SANSON to gain confirmation of certain uses, but also to be surprised and discover new uses, which the company had not necessarily identified. 

I was impressed both by the quality of the presentations and by the proposals made by these young consultants. When I introduced this topic, I had absolutely no expectation of having such a detailed strategic analysis and such innovative use cases. Each group came up with something different, whether in terms of the user experience in our physical stores, employee engagement, supply chain optimization, highlighting our sustainable collections or enhancing our CSR strategy. Each group has put forward a real operational AI strategy, which we can draw on in our future reflections and choices“, she retains. 

 “These business cases are essential for our students, as they benefit from genuine experience and interaction with companies by working on a concrete, interdisciplinary project. In this way, they apply all the knowledge they have acquired throughout their academic careers, not only in the analysis of strategy and business models, but also in finance, marketing, human resources, sustainability… to take into account all the economic, social, societal and environmental factors and respond as effectively as possible to the issues raised.

Working on business cases is a real demand from our students: this generation wants concrete, immediate feedback on their work. They expect us to provide quality, useful teaching, and getting companies involved in a real-life case is a way of meeting their needs. 

This case has also shown them that, even though we are working on an AI strategy and therefore on very topical subjects, many strategic analysis tools, such as the ERRC analysis models or the Canvas business model, developed in the 2000s, are still relevant. So, whatever the subject they’ll have to work on in the company, they’ve come to realize that what they’ve learned in school will always be useful,” concludes Catherine ARCHAMBAULT.

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