Light speed transformation


    April 29, 2020


    Chief Digital Officer Astrid Simonsen Joos tells us what’s next on Signify’s digital roadmap

    When Astrid Simonsen Joos describes her year as “intense”, you tend to believe her.


    After all, she’s a woman that’s scaled mountains, competed in the Arctic Circle Race and, a few years back, spent 30 days traversing Greenland on skis, carrying a 60kg sled with all her equipment. For the last year, she’s taken on a dual role at Signify, both as Chief Digital Officer, and as leader of Horizon, the company’s performance transformation program.

    We’re talking over videoconference from our respective homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a testing time for technology as companies scramble to get their workforces up to speed on working remotely.


    “I think we should give kudos to our IT team at Signify that had the foresight to deploy Microsoft Teams,” says Astrid. “We were more ready than most. For many industry companies, this is a major change. If you look at native IT companies, this is what they have been doing for the last ten years. It’s amazing to see how fast humans can adapt when we really need to. But sometimes it takes something radical to change behavior.” 

    Sometimes it takes something radical to change behavior"

    In both of her roles at Signify, radical change is what Astrid is here to do. I ask what’s on the digital side of her agenda.


    “We have developed a functional digital roadmap with a clear aspiration for the company, and we’ve used that to make priorities based on market trends, customer needs, and value for Signify. These three parameters are important because we know we’re creating something that is really of value for customers, and not only important from our perspective.”


    Having a clear roadmap fuels product development and strategy, but also reveals where the gaps are. Is it a struggle for a company with a hundred-year heritage to adapt to a digital world?


    “It’s difficult for all companies. The world is evolving fast and there’s exponential growth in technology. But people’s behaviors don’t grow exponentially. Now, it’s on us to really change the speed and the cadence to adapt to the new way of working and to new opportunities.”

    Coffee corner with ER 3

    It’s all about the people

    Getting teams and managers on board is key.


    “It’s easy to adapt the technology you use, but 80% of transformation is actually culture, working with what’s embedded in the legacy. That’s why it’s so crucial to be able to communicate the aligned digital plan, the purpose, the vision, and to say it over and over again, to make sure people can follow the ‘why’ and understand that change is needed. I can evangelize, I can accelerate, and I can put technology in the spotlight and make sure we have it. Then I work in close collaboration with HR and our leaders to ignite the digital spirit in the company.”

    This is the new way of doing things: tune in to the market, listen, hear what other people are doing, structure what we’ve learned, then see what we can work with."

    That change starts within, but Astrid reiterates the importance of an outside-in perspective. She meets regularly with partners, suppliers and other technology companies, to keep her perspective fresh.

    “This is the new way of doing things: tune in to the market, listen, hear what other people are doing, structure what we’ve learned, then see what we can work with. This is how we keep our finger on the pulse on what is happening in the markets and what customers want. Signify is a front runner when it comes to digitalizing light. I am so proud when I look at our innovation, and our team, and what we have been doing with, for example, our Interact software portfolio, and with Philips Hue.”

    A lovable product

    Through the Friends of Hue program, customers can enjoy Hue products that work seamlessly with other smart home tools like voice assistants, smart lamps and gaming accessories.


    “The Hue team is a very good example of Signify’s entrepreneurial spirit, this can-do mentality, and of what you can do with an outside-in perspective. With Friends of Hue, it becomes not just a product but an ecosystem. You continuously launch and you co-develop in collaboration with the community, including people outside of Signify. When you do that, you get ambassadors, and also a very cool and lovable product range.”


    An accelerated digital roadmap brings with it a demand for new skills. I ask how Signify can make sure the team is up to the task.


    “We’re working closely together with our HR team to create a targeted digital training capability program for all employees. It’s all about the people, how we can transform ourselves to be fit for the now. The main areas are data, automation – this can be in terms of robotic process automation, or also in our functions – and ecommerce, because we are really investing in our digital experience platform. We’re also looking at how we can develop our agile methodology more into the organization, using the initiatives on our digital roadmap to both work on the job and to upskill at the same time.”


    I ask Astrid whether it will be challenging for young people, and particularly young women, looking to enter careers in technology.


    “I’m not afraid for young people, or for young women either, on digital capabilities or STEM skills. Who am I most worried about? The mid-aged generation have a gap that will be huge. I like to say that digitalization is like a walk in the park, but this is Jurassic Park.


    “We are not native and we really need to speed up to be on the same level as the young, upcoming people. We need to be curious and be hungry to learn new things. As leaders, we need to understand the digital impact and opportunities, the value to customers and new market trends. Dare to go a layer deeper and take responsibility for the digital ambitions for your area.”


    Taking it to the next level

    There’s a lot to get excited about in the future, too.


    “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an opportunity for Signify to take it to the next level. Right now, we are using image recognition in horticulture so we can see how plants are growing. We’re also launching an application called Light Finder that uses image recognition for bulbs. It’s co-created together with a partner and we have a high focus on customer experience and design.


    “As AI is emerging in the world, I believe there will be a huge need for companies to focus on data ethics. It’s now time to pause and say, what are the ethical principles on how we are using our data? Is everything in the way we use data done for the benefit of customers? Are we making sure that our AI is learning from both male and female programmers, so it’s not biased? I believe this will be very important. We’re working on this as we speak, and also creating a forum so we can bridge people together and shape how we work with this.

    I ask Astrid whether it will be challenging for young people, and particularly young women, looking to enter careers in technology.

    It’s now time to pause and say, what are our data ethics?"

    “The second big thing is ecommerce. We’re focusing on building the top customer experience platforms, both for consumers and also for professional, which is becoming more consumerized and needs the same quality of experience.


    “Number three, I’m really a fan of our 3D printed luminaires. It’s an opportunity that’s really starting to transform and take shape. It has everything: it’s fast, it’s local, it’s customizable, it has circularity, you can replicate it, recycle it… what’s not to like? It’s a no-brainer.


    “Getting our priorities in place has been very inspiring work. We now have the priorities aligned across the company, so now we accelerate. And when you see an opportunity like this you have to just go and do it.”

    About the author:

    Annie Macfarlane

    Annie Macfarlane


    For further information, please contact:

    Signify Global Integrated Communications
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2023, we had sales of EUR 6.7 billion, approximately 32,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for seven consecutive years and have achieved the EcoVadis Platinum rating for four consecutive years, placing Signify in the top one percent of companies assessed. News from Signify can be found in the Newsroom, on X, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors is located on the Investor Relations page.

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