"All the components of the company should be considered from the perspective of digitalization"

The sudden acceleration of the switch to digital is accelerating agendas. What used to be a movement is becoming a shift. What should take years now seems to have to happen in a few quarters. Teodora Ene, Head of Corporate Relations at the BPI France Hub, shares her vision.

The movement towards digital has been underway for several years. Are you seeing an intensification of this phenomenon?

The last few months have brought their share of uncertainties – geopolitical balance upset, access to raw materials under tension, persistence of the pandemic and its consequences, major environmental issues, etc. They have also confirmed the trend of forced digitalization, at all levels, from individuals to companies to governments.

This digitalization, anticipated as a progressive and predictable outcome, could take a more disruptive path for some parts of the traditional economy. Destruction of markets for some, new opportunities for others – the consequences could be significant.

Is the acceleration of digitalization affecting all areas?

We haven’t finished digitizing all our businesses, and the metaverse is taking shape as a huge megastore, the center of our future purchases, our cultural consumption, and even our “life”. And if the purchase of square meters in a land drawn with the pen of computer code makes some people smile, the bottom of Maslow’s pyramid is not spared by innovation either; synthetic food, brain simulation helmets to treat depression, robotic surgery, 3D printed constructions, etc. are all on the horizon. The intensification of digital and more globally of technological innovation, is not uniform in all sectors, but the acceleration of the movement is real.

How should companies react to stay in the race?

First and foremost, it is important to consider all the components of the company from the perspective of digitalization, and more broadly, innovation, like production tools, the relationship with suppliers and customers, and the core targets of cross-functional activities. Once the scope has been set and the managerial priorities have been established, it is important to surround yourself with internal or external experts, as well as with talent that is aware of the trends and technological possibilities that exist on the market. The Open Innovation and Digital Departments work in this direction by facilitating partnerships with start-ups or providers of innovative solutions. In France, there is a solid ecosystem supporting innovation, made up of public and private players, notably venture capital funds (in 2021, around 100 funds and around 12 billion invested).

Even if digitalization does not guarantee the transformation of a company, it can be one of its pillars. If uncertainty is now the norm in the market, adopting open and agile approaches should be the basis for becoming an innovative company.

What are the benefits that companies can gain from increased digitalization?

For the most disciplined companies that embarked on digitalization a few years ago, the results in terms of efficiency have led to a clear improvement in their performance. Already in 2021, according to an Insee study, 41% recognized a contribution of digital directly in their turnover. Many companies have already started to address the issue of digitalization (by agreeing to give themselves the means, because yes, digitalization has a cost) and therefore have implemented new tools, thinking, and more modern working methods. But they have also discovered that digitalization had a measurable benefit only when supported by organizational efficiency, a strong managerial backing, and support for employees and partners. The support of the human being so that they can welcome digitalization and become an ambassador was a major concern for companies during the period of lockdown.