Interview with YouMeO

Shannon M February 3, 2021

Our interview with Raphael Beziz, co-founder of YouMeO.


YouMeO is a consultancy specializing in strategy and innovation, founded by Raphael Beziz and Martin Mayer six years ago. Their small team joined the large firm Bearing Point at the start of 2021. This new collaboration allows YouMeO to broaden its horizons, expand their team and enrich their skills. We discuss with Raphaël Beziz about the world of post-covid consulting, developments for the industry, for employees and generally in the workplace. The founder of YouMeO talks to us in this interview about his vision of what has happened recently and his prospects for the future.

“Congratulations on your merger with Bearing Point!

THANKS. We will not be the only ones to approach another consulting firm in 2021. I tend to believe that these merger projects will accelerate. In the innovation market, we have really experienced the whole cycle: there have been lots of small pure players that have been created, including us, and some have held up better than others. There are a lot of actors who get started, some who die. There is not room for everyone, some manage to remain independent and others prolong their growth by being bought out.


Does the context of last year accelerate this type of situation?

Yes, because it can put small players like us in difficulty, and that's where the opportunities arise. For big players, this is an opportunity to buy back boxes a little below their value.


Can you introduce YouMeO?

We are a small agency specializing in innovation. We set up six years ago with a team of around ten employees. We support all issues of innovation in organizations – whether it goes from innovation strategy (in which direction to innovate? What are the areas of opportunity?) – to more operational support for innovation projects in the upstream phase of emergence. That is to say, it goes from a detailed understanding of customer needs to a concept that we have prototyped and tested with users.

We do not support the deployment and implementation phases, Bearing Point takes care of it and they are capable of doing this part, hence the rapprochement. We are really in the upstream part of the emergence of new projects. This could be new services: physical or digital, new customer experience journeys, new sales spaces, products, etc.

The third thing is that we work on the organization of innovation. As a company, how can we structure ourselves to encourage innovation? Should innovation be everyone’s business? How to create a culture of innovation? What are the reflexes to create? How do we manage this over time? It’s more about processes, training, management methods and culture…


Do you work more with large groups ?

Large groups, yes essentially 90%. Afterwards we also work with slightly smaller boxes. This year we worked for Blablacar, Photomathon. We work for SMEs or start-ups which are generally no longer there. I can give you some names of large groups like SNCF, Société Générale etc.


Has 2020 created a disruption in your profession?

From what we have observed internally: in the operating methods there is a real challenge which is the pre-commercial sales phase because we are in a business where we have to create trust quickly, we sell services intellectuals. It is rarely through methodology and approach that we differentiate ourselves. But it is really through these first exchanges that we understand a client's problem, that we help them to structure and that we show them that we can bring them value. Not being able to see each other, not being able to have lunches during which we talk about it openly, not being able to create this human connection in the initial phase is a real challenge.

We need to find new ways to create this link. For the moment we are capitalizing on what we have learned, we already have other customers and prospects who know us, which helps. The batteries were full a year ago but they are gradually emptying and there is a real need to refill these batteries in a world where this link will be more difficult to create.

We have to reinvent ourselves in our way of managing customer relations, find other ways to create connections (webinars are rather limited), such as with word of mouth to make ourselves known by people who are not in the business. our first circle.

The drop in the number of projects after the crisis left time and firms took advantage of it to write white papers and produce content. There is a challenge of standing out because everyone does very intelligent things. How are we going to provide a different perspective? Bring our stone to the building to leave our mark? There are lots of things to do on the content, on the form and on the substance, find more interactive formats. We need to seek out customer challenges to be able to show that we have interesting things to offer.

In the life of projects there are quite a few challenges, especially for us because we are in a particular position, on “ doing it ” or “ doing it with ”. We are creating conditions for collective intelligence, facilitating highlights and ensuring that ideas are combined to arrive at new concepts. There were a lot of times when we really came together to bounce off each other's ideas. Today there is really a barrier, even if platforms like Team and Zoom help a lot to remain efficient. But for innovation there is a loss in remote work. We have to reinvent ourselves on this, there are plenty of tools that can support creativity, but I find that it is less effective than face-to-face time. We must reinvent collective times.


Is it possible to start again as before or is there a break?

It's hard to say, I think we're heading towards something hybrid. I have the impression that new reflexes have been established because we realized that all these remote tools allow us to be effective. Where do we put the cursor between efficiency and innovation? There are often tensions between the two in societies. Being very efficient is sometimes incompatible with looking for the next good idea and preparing for the next move.

We can also talk about exploitation and exploration. Operation means doing better than what we already do today, seeking additional market share, additional customers, gaining efficiency in processes. Exploration means looking for new fields. What works well is exploitation, we have more difficulty doing exploration. We have a battery, and ideas, but we need to replenish the battery. The companies have become aware of this. We have all become aware of the limitation of chaining remote meetings back to back. A lot of lucidity has been created around these ways of working. We will probably reach a compromise between the two.

Times will be reoriented, for the time spent together we will favor quality time , to have time for collective intelligence, to work on substantive subjects, new subjects. There will perhaps be more maturity on what we can really do remotely and what we can do while meeting in the same place.


What big changes do your customers expect (in terms of digital transformation)? :

There are many things that have not stopped during confinement, subjects have been deprioritized and as always, the brakes are put on everything that seems ancillary to concentrate on essential functions and survive in a moment of crisis. strong turbulence. But I feel that it has already started again since September and even more so since January. Are customers reinvesting their time to ask themselves more in-depth questions and evolve their model?

There has been a digital fad for a long time, and now customers are waiting to see the result. They seek to do fewer things but with more impact. We have returned to a time when reason is important. This goes back to basics. What do we want to offer our customers? It would be beneficial if there was this refocusing towards something that has more impact for customers, businesses, society as a whole...


Tell us about the merger with Bearing Point :

It started from the desire to have more impact, we were frustrated by supporting projects very early on but which we were losing when it was time to take action. We didn't always see the tangible result of what we were doing. We asked ourselves how to get through to the end? We wanted to get closer to firms that knew how to do that, to have the entire value chain of the project.

By being at Bearing Point, we lose a little freedom and autonomy, but we gain a lot in impact. With Bearing Point we can take on larger projects while maintaining our autonomy. resource planning . This project is accompanied by a strong growth ambition and a desire to grow the team.


Do you have any advice to give to people who are starting out, who want to create their consulting company? :

Don't spend too much time thinking about offers but spend time with customers, understanding their needs. From there, think about what we can offer them. I often see this pitfall of wanting to make a great offer, a great website, but there is a big risk of completely missing the point. The best investment of time in the first months, the first years is to start from customer needs, to concretely discuss the issues and projects in progress, the subjects on which they need support and the offers follow in a second phase . Unlike other types of start-ups, where the offer and the product are very important, in consulting it is a bit of the opposite logic that takes precedence.

TO GO FURTHER: Read here our article on how the consulting industry was affected by the crisis in 2020 and its outlook for the future.