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Jérôme Siméon, Executive Director General for Application Services at Capgemini

Jérôme Siméon, Executive Director General for Application Services at Capgemini, heads a team of 8 000 whose job it is to integrate computer science systems, no matter the sector of application. “This has been a growth activity in the Capgemini group for years now, and this constantly calls for innovation that benefits our clients”, says Mr Simeon by way for an introduction.

Jérôme Siméon, Executive Director General for Application Services at Capgemini

How important is innovation in your sector?

Along with industrialization, innovation is the main differentiating element in the computer science market place. We can observe a market-place with a concentration of actors, a necessity if you want to preserve a critical mass to be able to contribute with these elements. Computer science systems and their applications – over just a few years – have progressed from artisan to industrial conceptions. In just 20 years, they have revolutionized work and production methods, which are now being increasingly outsourced. But what is even more significant is the revolution that is taking place today. New technologies are constantly coming on line and are transforming our daily lives. In our business jargon, we call that the SMACT effect: S for Social Media, M for Mobility, A for Analytics and Big Data, C for Cloud and T for Things, viz., the object-world Internet. Our job is to help the entrepreneurial world to use these new technologies opportunely, in the right place and to meet their objectives of contributing the company’s value.

How do you accompany your clients in this process?

Innovation per se, from a strictly technological point of view has limited value. It must be integrated to the corporate processes to attain a targeted value. It must be incorporated into a larger model combining industrial capacity, co-operation among the teams and the company’s eco-system. Without co-operation, innovation is a mirage with no future, which neither improves the competitiveness of the company nor its market position. To enhance the integration process, Capgemini places its trust in its human resources, insisting on continued training, on taking brave even risky decisions and on a renewal of teams to integrate dynamic young graduates who offer fresh visions, novel ideas, new behavioural attitudes … to assist the change from ideas to projects, Capgemini has instilled specific work methodologies and equipment, e.g., the Lab’Innovation.

Capgemini has set up 7 Lab’Innovation units in France. What do they exactly?

In France, yes, we have 7 Lab’Innovations units in Suresnes, Nantes, Rennes, Lille, Lyon, Grenobles and Toulouse. Altogether, there are some30 such Capgemini units round the world. They are networked and enable collaborative work with both clients and partners. These units are demo-intensive places, conducive to creative ideas, to prototyping and serve to accompany the digital transformation of the clients. It provides an excellent opportunity for young people to express their potential all the more so that in these Lab’Innovation units they can work with start-ups who often bring a “disruptive” point of view.

What is your strategy, in terms of innovation?

I always demand three things from my teams: 1° proof of ROI (return on investment) while preserving their all-important right to make mistake; 2° a specification for the use value of any innovation; 3° speed. On this latter point, speed is essential if you want to remain efficient in a digital world and this implies having and using efficient tools and methodology in our offices.

What advice would you offer to students in innovation?

Anything and everything is possible! Discard all your mental barriers – envisage progress just like the horizon, it is always on the move and elusive.