Digital transformation: why now?

It’s been more than 20 years since I worked in the web environment, two decades during which I exhausted myself to explain, reassure and persuade companies of the interest of the web and digital media. If today nobody questions the necessity or the interest of the digital transformation, I would like to dwell on the combination of many socio-demo-eco-technological factors which make the digital transition become obvious: why Is it a question of survival now when it was not really a few years ago?

20 years of maturation for a profound transformation

The first Internet connection for the general public was launched in June 1994. The digital content and services we access are therefore the result of more than 20 years of evolution ( what were the websites like in 1995 ). To give you an idea of the atmosphere of the time, I recommend watching these two reports broadcast on TV in 1995 here and there.

More than two decades of evolution covering different aspects:

  • changes in usage with constant growth in online shopping ( mapping of e-commerce in 2017 ), more and more time spent on social media (see my latest social media panorama and: in 4 years, internet users have gone from 3 social accounts to 7 ) and media consumption habits that move away from the sacrosanct TV ( Evolution of media consumption patterns, Time spent with the media in France and YouTube has 1.5 billion logged-in users watching on your mobile video );
  • evolution of offers with new business models (subscription-based business, pay-as-you-go …) and new distribution channels (audio/video streaming, a generalization of content platforms and services …);
  • evolution of media with the advent of smartphones that largely dominate alternative terminals, but prepare the rise of personal assistants as well as augmented / virtual reality …);
  • evolution of technologies (online software that is emerging as the new standard, APIs and cloud computing offerings that redefine the computing landscape, the generalization of artificial intelligence, natural interfaces …);
  • evolution of marketing and communication practices ( programmatic buying, marketing automation, machine learning …).

So there has been an evolution on almost all plans. Add to this the irresistible rise in power of the GAFA that stands out as the new superpowers ( The GAFA are not our enemies … but beware anyway!, How Facebook has transformed to become the dominant media of the 21st century, How Amazon is conquering our homes and imposing itself in our daily lives ), as well as many economic, ecological, demographic, societal tensions … that shape a daily life based on the uncertainty with which it is necessary to know how to compose ( What marketing tools and practices in a VUCA world?

We all agree that this is a lot of innovations and evolutions to assimilate in a short time. The resistance to change in business is at its highest, but fortunately, the retirement of baby boomers will accelerate the renewal of assets ( The “Papy boom” will peak in 2017 ).

All this “new blood” that disembarks (and will continue to land) in a company allows to dust off the mentalities and turn the page of the twentieth century definitively to project into the twenty-first century and its projects increasingly crazy (blockchainisation of all sectors, development of neuronal interfaces, spatial conquest …).

This is why we are talking so much about digital transformation over the last two years because the pressure has never been greater to accelerate the digital transition, as well as the heavyweights of the French economy (banks, insurance companies, industrial …) than SMEs. All the factors mentioned above are cumulative to increase the impact and make the digital transformation THE priority of the companies, NOW, not in 5 years.

Are French companies well placed? Yes and no

It is always difficult to get a ranking of the best students in terms of digital transformation as the number of factors to consider is important. There is the University of Tuft, in partnership with Mastercard, which publishes for several years their Digital Evolution Index and provides a good frame of reference, but it remains debatable.

All these macroeconomic data are difficult to interpret at the level of your company, so I suggest instead to get an idea of the situation with the increase in investment ( Boudée for 10 years, France finally finds its attractiveness to foreigners ) and the new political momentum in Europe, particularly in Estonia ( Is This Tiny European Nation Preview of Our Tech Future? ) and at the national level ( Why should we take President Macron’s “nation-building” seriously? and Edouard Philippe wants to be inspired by the re-administration of Estonia ). In summary: there is a very strong dynamic that drastically increases the competitive pressure.

The good news is that there is a real awareness: according to a study by Umanis, 76% of companies believe that the digital transition is a strategic project, and 56% think that the disruption must come from the Internal ( Digital Transformation: Where are the French companies? ).

The problem is that there is a big gap between the boss/managers’ discourse and what their teams think. Last month, Capgemini published a very informative report ( The Digital Culture Challenge: Closing the Employee-Leadership Gap ), where we learn that 75% of leaders believe that their company has a culture centered on technological innovation. this feeling is only shared by 37% of employees. You will note in the following diagram that France is the country where the gap is the strongest (ouch!).

The report focuses on the cultural reluctance that is particularly strong in France (re-ouch!):

In addition to this cultural reluctance, it is above all the lack of vision that slows the digital transformation: employees do not really understand why they have to change their habits and especially to which model they should orient themselves. Basically, they are asked to “think digital” or “do more digital” without it fits into a coherent strategy. Big deal…