L’Oréal has a beautiful vision for its digital future

More than a century ago, a 28-year-old French chemist named Eugène Schueller founded L’Oréal with a secret ability to understand the needs of the market and anticipate the expectations of customers.

“A company is not walls and machines,” Schueller once said, “it’s people, people, people.”

 L’Oréal has followed that mandate ever since. Now, the beauty company is relying on Microsoft Teams to help fortify its people-first philosophy. In January, L’Oréal launched Teams, a cloud-based workspace in Microsoft 365 that enables people to share conversations and content.

“Everything is mobile and compatible, and it recreates this essential human interaction,” says Barbara Lavernos, chief technology and operations officer at L’Oréal. “This human interaction (on Teams) is creating intelligence, creating ideas, creating innovation.”

To date, more than 80% of the company’s 86,000 employees have adopted Teams, underscoring L’Oréal’s emergence as a world leader in “beauty tech,” Lavernos says.

By fusing beauty and technology, L’Oréal is pioneering a new business sub-sector, applying data insights and AI tools to its websites, points of sales and applications to personalize its interactions with customers, the company says.

“At the same time, being a beauty tech also is allowing our employees to work, interact and contribute completely differently,” Lavernos says.

An open laptop displays conversations in Microsoft Teams as hands hold perfume bottles nearby.

Microsoft Teams on a laptop screen at L’Oreal headquarters in Paris.

L’Oréal began piloting Teams in late 2018, shortly before launching it companywide.

The platform began to dissolve some of organizational barriers and layers that naturally exist inside a global enterprise and that potentially clog the work, says Satyen Pradhan, a L’Oréal IT employee experience manager based in Hong Kong.

L’Oréal’s merchandising, legal and human resources departments were early adopters, he says.

“The whole idea of introducing Teams in L’Oréal is about people not working in silos,” Pradhan says. “This has resulted in people working together. There’s more collaboration and working with fun. The GIFs and the memes available in Teams all help to lighten up the work environment.”

Teams cultivates collaboration among geographically distant workers, including group chat, online meetings and video calling – tools that also help streamline the effort needed to complete certain tasks, Pradhan says.

“The objective of using Teams,” Pradhan says, “is to reduce your time, as in your work time.

Across the company’s 43 international brands – including Garnier, Lancôme and others – employees use Teams to talk through key business operations, such as manufacturing some 7 billion finished goods each year. Examples of L’Oréal finished goods are a bottle of shampoo or a jar of skin lotion.

With parts of its workforce dispersed from New York to Paris to Shanghai, L’Oréal’s leaders say Teams helps mesh the people who oversee its wide array of brands.

“My team is spread out across the world,” says Serge Christ, vice president of global operations for L’Oréal’s luxury division. “Connecting those teams is also at the heart of the challenge we have to face.”

Brands ranging from cosmetics to perfumes to fashion must be managed the same way – developed, manufactured, marketed and sold in similar styles by L’Oréal colleagues who often work at distant locations and at opposite ends of the clock, Christ says.

“My team is set up with the right innovative solutions to provide new services and new products to the consumer,” Christ says. “In this environment, agility and collaboration are the keys.”

Learn more about L’Oréal’s use of Microsoft Teams to enhance collaboration and innovation in beauty tech by reading this case study