Proudly I accepted the invitation by HSH Prince Albert II to join The Monaco Digital Advisory Council. This council helps guide the principality through a journey of digital transformation. The goal is for Monaco to become a world-class smart city or city state not only to serve its own citizens but also to provide a good example for the world at large.
Ever since HSH Prince Albert II took over the reign as the Prince of Monaco in 2005, he has worked hard to establish Monaco as a sovereign, independent country that is to be taken seriously by the international community. In so doing, HSH Prince Albert II has built an agenda for Monaco based on the core values of ethics, transparency, and sustainability.
For example, Monaco should no longer be seen as (if it even ever was) a safe haven for money-laundering activities. Also, the many initiatives supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation very much counter the perception of Monaco as only being concerned about luxury yachts, the Casino, and Formula I racing.
Monaco's Chief Digital Officer Frédéric Genta
While HSH Prince Albert II has made great strides in his first decade plus in charge, he has declared that the second phase of his reign should focus on digital transformation. He recognizes that Monaco could do much more in terms of leveraging smart technologies to support his agenda and big ambitions for his Principality.
To spearhead the digital transformation of Monaco, the HSH Prince Albert II appointed the country's first Chief Digital Officer in the form of Mr. Frédéric Genta. Mr. Genta is a native Monegasque with an impressive Silicon Valley technology background at Google, Amazon, etc, and who also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
The Monaco Digital Advisory Council
The Monaco Digital Advisory Council, under the directorship of the country's Chief Digital Officer Frédéric Genta and with HSH Prince Albert II as its Chairman, was formed to support the digital transformation of Monaco. The council is providing the Principality with a digital vision, strategies, and contacts with external networks and companies.
At our first meeting, expertly moderated by Loïc Plantevin of Bain & Company, I had the great pleasure of interacting with and learning from a number of experts from both the public and private sectors:
- Hani Mahmassani: A Professor at Northwestern University who is considered a world expert in the mobility sector.
- Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani: Founder and CEO of Rakuten, Inc., Japan's largest digital platform.
- Axelle Lemaire: Former Secretary of State for Digital Technology in France under President Hollande and now a partner in the consulting firm Roland Berger.
- Krishnakumar Natarajan: Co-founder and Executive President of Mindtree, India's leading IT company with regard to smart city issues.
- Gunhild Stordalen: Founder and Executive President of the EAT Foundation with a mission to transform how the planet feeds itself not only for the health benefits but also with the goal to reduce the negative environmental impact of the food supply chain.
- Marc-André Kamel: A Monegasque national and a Partner and Director of Bain & Company. He heads the Distribution and Luxury division for Europe, the Middle East and Africa and is one of the leaders of the Transformation and Customer Strategy and Marketing divisions.
- Nick Jennings: Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Imperial College London, who is internationally recognized as an expert in this field.
In addition, the Monaco Digital Advisory Council includes the following two members who were unable to attend our first meeting:
- Diego Piacentini: Government Commissioner for Digital Matters in Italy, the first Vice-President of Amazon and its second largest shareholder ($3.2 billion).
- Balaji Srinivasan: Co-founder of Coinbase (the largest Blockchain company) and an Associate of Andreesen Horowitz (the largest Californian venture capital fund).
The Social Media Professor joins the Monaco Digital Advisory Council
With such a distinguished group of world-class thought leaders and entrepreneurs, it would be easy to feel intimidated. For example, I did note the fact that the majority of the other council members had their own Wikipedia pages.
However, once we got together, I could quickly relax as the atmosphere was very warm and collegial and we quickly got to know each other. At least, now they all know how to find Chapman University and some of them would even be able to pinpoint my hometown of Piteå in northern Sweden.
Our hosts also contributed to the creative process with a genuine curiosity about what we had to say and with their warm hospitality. To say that the Principality of Monaco took good care of us during our stay would be a gross understatement.
Myself, I was invited to join the Monaco Digital Advisory Council to share my perspectives on digital transformation and digital leadership building on my focus on social media networks and digital communications. The communications challenge that Monaco faces is how can use social and digital channels both to gain the support from its citizens and to impact how Monaco is being perceived by the outside world.
Social Media and Personal Branding for Professionals
I have long advocated for the value of showing up regularly on multiple social platforms to network with and help people. If you keep at it, you are simply more likely to be experiencing so-called serendipitous opportunities, that is, good news that come to you rather than the other way around.
At least, this form of “Inbound Marketing” worked in the case of the Principality in its search for a social media professor to invite. Apparently, I popped up everywhere and, more importantly, they liked what they saw. So instead of getting a social media professor, they decided to get The Social Media Professor!
I recently elaborated on what you can do to build up your personal brand and online platform so that you too can experience some more serendipity in your life. These strategies and tactics can be found in the chapter I contributed to the great social media book by my friend Mitch Jackson.
Monaco's Digital Future
At the end of our gathering, the Monaco Digital Advisory Council reported its findings in terms of key success factors and ideas for a 10-year vision of what is to become of the Principality. Now it is up to the Chief Digital Officer Frédéric Genta to determine what ideas they would like to implement first.
The Monaco Digital Advisory Council will stay connected with Mr. Genta virtually during the year and then reconvene in Monaco again at the end of 2019. Several colleagues at Chapman University have already offered to join me should their presence be desired!
Regardless, I know that I will be on lookout for good examples and strategies for digital transformation that may be applicable in the case of Monaco. I also feel that my experiences from arranging the annual Chapman University MBA travel course Business in Scandinavia helps prepare me for many of the areas Monaco considers.
For example, issues covered during our two weeks of travel through Scandinavia include digital leadership, digital communications in the public sector, clean technology, 5G telecommunications networks, e-health, self-driving and electric vehicles, flat organizations, e-government, and online education.
Any input or ideas that you may have in terms of smart technologies or solutions that you think may be valuable in the digital transformation of Monaco, please let me know!