How we use our digital expertise to create value

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How we use our digital expertise to create value

  • 06 June 2024

Reading time: 4 minutes

    Our capacity to invest in teams of digital and data science experts is a key element of the benefits that an investment from Ardian brings to portfolio companies. Maximizing gains from digitization and data analysis at every company we own is a fundamental part of our value creation strategy, as Pauline Thomson and Clément Marty explain.

    Helping our portfolio companies to strengthen their operations by harnessing digital technology and unlocking the value of their data are core elements of Ardian’s approach to value creation. Our internal IT team has worked extensively on the digital transformation of Ardian’s own operations, and we have a company-wide vision to apply data science to all our investment activities. These programs have given us valuable experience and insights that we apply to support the companies we acquire.

    Our digital transformation team, which was created in 2019, now has five specialists, led by Clément Marty, who start working with companies when they join our Buyout and Expansion portfolios. The team helps our companies define and execute their digital roadmap, so that they can maximize the benefits of their investment in digital technologies. Our input can range from developing a digital strategy to building an internal team, assessing cybersecurity risks, identifying the best vendors, and ensuring projects are well structured.

    We optimize our internal projects by leveraging digital tools. The Millennial Committee’s cross-selling project shows our IT teams’ efficiency in responding to business expectations.

    Julien Centofanti, Fund Finance, Paris

    From digital transformation to data science

    From digital transformation to data science

    For example, the transformation team was involved in the entire process at Opteven, a roadside assistance company in the Expansion portfolio, from deciding where digital should apply in the business to building the team and executing the projects. When we exited Opteven, its digital capabilities were seen as a key asset by the buyer. 

    In many cases, those portfolio companies also have opportunities to create value using their data, therefore the transformation team connects them with Ardian’s Data Science team. Data science was pioneered within Ardian by the Infrastructure team to improve the way it manages assets and has developed a series of innovative tools such as machine learning used to calculate take-off and landing trajectories for aircraft in real time that will result in the lowest emissions, depending on the conditions at our airports. 

    The combined expertise of digital transformation and data science teams can bring major benefits for Ardian’s portfolio companies. For example, Monbake, a company in our Buyout portfolio, manufactures frozen pastries – hundreds of products that sell to customers ranging from supermarkets to small stores. We created a tool that enables Monbake to track and optimize the margin on every product sold to every customer. 

    From being a recommendation engine for the investment pipeline to facilitating information sharing across teams, digital transformation has huge potential for the investment landscape.

    Clément Perrin, Information Technology, Paris

    Exploring artificial intelligence

    Exploring artificial intelligence 

    We are testing a variety of large language models, including Microsoft Azure AI and Mistral, the French AI start-up, to identify use cases that we can apply within Ardian and in our companies. Much of our investment teams’ day-to-day work involves analyzing documents and data to inform our investment decisions, so there is obvious potential to use AI to screen documents and gather information. For the moment, however, all outputs from these tools are reviewed by human experts to ensure accuracy and quality. 
    We have also run an analysis of our portfolio to identify the companies where we think generative AI could have a significant impact and we are engaging with them to develop appropriate AI strategies. 

    We are currently deploying the new data platform. This will allow us to explore use cases for AI and train Mistral’s large language model with our own data and parameters.

    Vincent Joly Head of Information Technology