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A new ‘Bescherelle’* for the economy

Philippe Lemoine, President of the Action Modernités Forum and the New Generation Internet Foundation, was commissioned early 2014 by French finance Ministers Pierre Moscovici, Fleur Pellerin and Arnaud Montebourg, introduces the subject of the Report as follows: “Can France profit by adopting new business models that arise through digital technologies. The title of the Report is “A new grammar for success, digital transformation of the French economy will provide some answers” and Philippe Lemoine present the Report’s findings and conclusions at the Phitico seminar, organised at UTC Jan. 19-23, 2015.

A new ‘Bescherelle’* for the economy

Philippe Lemoine, previously Chairman and CEO of LaSer up to 2014, after co-chairing the Galerie Lafayette Group (1998-2005) explains: "the Report is based on 4 methodological decisions: a co-drafting process with over 500 persons associated with the work; analysis of the findings, to avoid an endless, shallow catalogue and to identify new rules in a digital world; action-intensive, which is essential in digital activities with added value for brave entrepreneurs/inventors, which is a notion that is often sacrificed in France and in Europe generally, to the gods of real politics". The Report carries 180 proposals in its 327 pages, with 9 projects for immediate application, 53 transverse measures and 118 recommendations for the coming three years. Philippe Lemoine has a propensity for his term "grammar": indeed, the report sets out the rules of a new grammar applicable in economic competition, rules that decision-makers should know and follow if we are to express ourselves intelligently in a new digital paradigm.

Big data: the advent of 'super-contracting'

The report offers three main conclusions, beginning with the in-depth transformation that digital technologies are introducing in every economic sector. "What we call the 'digital transversality' has major consequences, notably in terms of manpower. In the coming 15 years, every second job will be changed completely", reckons Philippe Lemoine. The other major change will be in the issue of innovation and its origins. Innovation used to be the privilege of company structures but today it is the innovator-designers who are out in front. "Private persons have moved massively to adopt digital tools, running from smartphones to pads, and they use them to innovate, notably when it comes to economic models: collaborative economics, circular economics, etc. The enterprises are now striving to catch up on the new models", stresses Philippe Lemoine. "They must continue and double up their efforts in terms of use of the new tools and models to stay in the race". Philippe Lemoine also insists on the data angle, big data, "the new oil of the 21st Century", that certain enterprises - still not very numerous - are now integrating into their business models, sometime in a perplex and clumsy manner. "Those companies that become familiar with big data techniques and tools, companies like Google, Facebook, or Amazon will still be in a position to exercise a super-contracting attitude and policy, based on data analysis and will be able to corner most of the added value, putting the classic companies in a difficult spot", Philippe Lemoine adds by way of a warning.

Only one company less than 30 years old in the French 'Top 100'

The second conclusion we draw is that the ongoing transformations offer more opportunities than risks for France. "I we accept that private person designer/innovators constitute a major economic asset, then France can be seen to have an excellent educational system, is well equipped in digital tools, with a good and relevant legal system (the so-called law on computer science applications and personal data protection), etc." says Philippe Lemoine but he hastens to add "French companies are not adopting digital tools as readily or as rapidly as the French themselves. 60% of the French has already made an on-line purchase, but only 11% have made one on-line sale. The advertising sector is still marginal in France, both in terms of volume and growth rates, a long, long way behind the British." The Report also underlines the high quality of today's generation of French start-ups, who combine innovation and the digital world and therefore have multiplied their chances of enjoying a fast growth rate. "the economic elevator must be reassessed in France: in over 100 of the main French companies, only one is less than 30 years old, viz., Free [recently introduced telephone operator]. In Europe, there are 9 and in the USA, 63. The age of the company, however, is a guarantee that there will be a better understanding of the changes as and when they occur. Despite several "good practices" noted for companies like Schneider Electric, the Postal services, the SNCF railroads, Air Liquide, Axa, etc., in terms of open innovation procedures or in use of a FabLab, very few companies have moved into what we call "digital disruption". Thus, the Alstom teams simply were not prepared for one of the requisite expressed by General Electric: what was the digital added value of the current dossiers? There must be an effort undertaken to ensure that the top echelon staff of our major enterprises 'wake up' and start the transformations".

A Universal Digital Exhibition

The third a final conclusion of the Report relates to the need to reinforce governance tools in France. Philippe Lemoine advocates that there be an annual digital summit, along the lines of the German model, that will bring together the public authorities, the enterprises, 'civvy street', etc. "The purpose (among others) is to free the brakes that exist at a European level (fiscal measures, copyright law, equipment, big data, etc.) and links should be made with public utility foundations such as Wikipedia, Mozilla, etc. "We should aim a creating Universal Digital Exhibition! As far as the public authorities are concerned", concludes Philippe Lemoine, "the two main priorities relate to changes in employment and the combination of the digital and ecological worlds".