All posts by Nora Guelton

E-health: doctors and patients get better connected!

Econocom 5 May 2015

Telemedicine technologies – from connected transmitters to remote diagnosis software and robotic systems – are becoming increasingly widespread. They are chiefly being used to diagnose, understand and treat chronic illnesses; manage patient care at home; and address problems associated with insufficient access to medical care.

Linkidoc health consultants have recently published a second report on e-health trends based on information from their Link-e-doc search engine for e-health solutions.What did they discover? That while certain fields such as dentistry, gastroenterology and intensive care still use very few telehealth solutions, others, like cardiology and general medicine, have a huge number of digital tools at their disposal thanks to the boom in connected monitoring devices, which are becoming progressively smaller, smarter and better.


Is cardiology the top e-health student?

In its first report, Linkidoc identified telehealth devices for a dozen or so illnesses. In 2015, this figure was doubled, and conditions such as acne, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis were taken into account. But technology for cardiovascular disorders was most prevalent, with more than 70 solutions indexed. This can be explained by the explosion in non-invasive monitoring devices, such as connected bracelets, and apps like Ads Télésuivi, which compiles data from connected objects, and Cardio Test, which can help prevent the risk of heart disease.

This year, however, we will see the first digital solutions designed for specialisms such as haematology, gastroenterology and dentistry. The Linkidoc platform also features e-Celsius, an ingestible pill that transmits core temperature measurements wirelessly, and the e-DENT intraoral camera used to map the inside of a patient’s mouth.


Etude Linkidoc


More discreet tools

Devices are certainly becoming smaller. Hospital trolleys and monitoring kits are being replaced by bracelets or patches the patient can wear (or swallow in the case of the latter!) and are linked up to tablets or smartphones. The number of platforms and apps for sharing, processing and/or analysing medical data is also massively on the rise.

Etude Linkidoc

Some companies in the US are even offering packs that contain a monitoring device, data processing software/a clinical decision support system, and access to a call centre of doctors. There is not yet a deluge of such packages in France, where the main providers of telehealth solutions are local companies who generally target the domestic market. But French companies are highly active in the area, with several French firms – including Visiomed and Oscadi – attending the CES 2015 trade show in Las Vegas. For the fifth year running, Withings – who specialise in connected health and well-being devices – has received a number of CES Awards.



Download the full report free of charge [PDF, 18 pages]: Observatoire 2015 des solutions de télémédecine (Telemedicine Solutions Watch 2015).


 Explore in more detail:

Telemedicine: making healthcare accessible for everyone everywhere: Pierre Simon and Nicolas Vaillant

Rachel Even: digital technology and patient well-being

– Pushing back hospital walls… with tablets!



Photo credit: Eric Peacock – It Is In All of Us – Grape Sketch / / Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

GDF SUEZ’S Cit’Ease project: “Helping cities in the digital transformation of their regions“

Econocom 30 Apr 2015

Whether it’s related to water, waste, energy or traffic circulation, cities generate vast amounts of data every day. The idea of centralising, linking up and extracting meaning from this data has become a valuable resource for ensuring the development and appeal of urban centres. Using its extensive experience as a public utilities delegated contract holder, GDF Suez has launched Cit’Ease – a platform to help elected officials, local councils and individuals manage this data.

The director of the Cit’Ease project, Nathalie Allegret, answered a few of our questions at the Forum Jeunes Femmes et Numérique event for young women in tech.


Cit’Ease: A collaborative tool for supporting cities

With connected objects springing up left, right and centre, our cities are churning out a constant stream of data. But the problem is that not all of the data is in the same format, nor does it follow the same protocols or work on the same media. So, what was GDF SUEZ’s bright idea? To bring together all this data and transform it into truly meaningful information. Nathalie Allegret explained:

 “GDF SUEZ has been a public utilities delegated contract holder for several years. For a long time now, we have been helping cities supply gas and water, manage waste and street lighting, and even provide transportation. Now we want to help them in the digital transformation of their regions.” 

The Group therefore came up with Cit’Ease: an interactive, comprehensive dashboard containing every single bit of information about a region. The information is compiled from transmitters installed by energy, water and waste operators, from councils’ information systems and from open-data sources (weather reports, maps, demographic and statistical information). In addition to collecting data, Cit’Ease improves interaction between networks so that the information becomes more meaningful and valuable. Let’s take the example of loop counters installed on roads that can provide traffic data. The data collected from these counters – which are connected to traffic or street lights – becomes interactive, smart and useful:

 “Cit’Ease is a digital tool designed to help elected officials monitor their city’s performance using a number of indicators. They are then able to compare this performance with their election pledges and show people how they are meeting their commitments.” 


A platform designed for elected officials, local authorities and individuals

Cit’Ease also gathers information provided by local people. Anyone can submit suggestions or discuss issues about the city via a designated app, whether it’s timings for street lights or road access. They can also use many special features designed for citizens. Let’s take a resident who notices a water leak in his/her area, for instance. The individual can use a ‘data connector’ like Cit’Ease to report the leak to the public services company, alert other residents and inform the transport authority to put in place a diversion, all in one go. And Cit’Ease doesn’t just cover areas of activity in which GDF SUEZ has long been a stakeholder:

 “The project relates to every aspect of city life, including energy, water, waste, street lighting and transport, which are GDF SUEZ’s business lines. But we are also involved in areas outside of our own activity, such as culture, education and sport.”  

To achieve this, the energy giant relies on an effective ecosystem, described to us by Nathalie Allegret:

“Cit’Ease was developed internally by GDF SUEZ alongside start-ups that were able to provide different input from one region to the next, because we wanted to promote local start-ups. We also work with SMEs and industry leaders.”

Cit’Ease shows officials the bigger picture of their city by providing a more detailed understanding of the data it generates. This helps them identify the best course of action, because the platform highlights both the city’s comparative strengths and shortcomings.


 Cit'Ease de GDF SUEZ

Helping cities open up and organise their data

“As it stands, all towns or cities with more than 3,500 inhabitants are obliged to publish their data publicly. In light of this requirement, smaller towns – and there are a large number of them – feel quite ill-equipped. So we try to assist them in both the collection of information and the organisation of the data they already have.” 

GDF SUEZ’s solution is not only aimed at large urban centres; it is designed for authorities of all shapes and sizes, as Nathalie Allegret explains:

“GDF SUEZ is helping all towns and cities with their digital transformation, even the smallest. We don’t want to leave anyone behind. It’s about equality: citizens – whether they live in a small town or large city – deserve the same level of digital services.”

To roll out their solution, the Group has relied on its close relationship with local authorities:

“We already have ties to local authorities through our long-standing business lines. So, when we notice an interest in digital technology, we make the most of it by introducing Cit’Ease. In general, the idea is extremely well-received, as authorities often feel lost when it comes to technology. Most are happy that a trusted, formerly state-owned stakeholder such as Gaz de France can help them on the issue.” 

At the moment, Mulhouse is the only city to enjoy a fully functional platform, but other projects across France are underway.


On track for fully connected cities?

The issues surrounding smart cities go far beyond simply managing data. Today, technological breakthroughs are full of the promise of 100% secure, sustainable, intelligent cities. Some major cities, such as Amsterdam, are already chock-a-block with transmitters and use precise technological data to optimise resources and improve the lives of residents.

In Jean-Christophe Ribot’s documentary on smart cities (Les villes du futur – Les villes intelligentes) which aired a few months ago on French television channel Arte, Daniel Kaplan, director of the Fing next generation Internet foundation, shared his vision of connected cities:

“Behind the vision of the smart city is this really sound idea that there is a vast amount of information within cities, about cities, produced by cities that we can learn a lot from and that can help us better understand, organise and live in cities.” 

By cross-referencing and analysing the data collected by transmitters in urban centres, we can gain a deeper understanding of a city’s rich tapestry. From now on, local authorities can use technology to manage their resources in the best way possible and prepare for the future. Let’s get Digital for all in our cities… NOW!


Explore in more detail:

Laurent Kocher: “Offering transports users a better service through an open source approach“

Smart cities : sensors, data… and above all, people


Photo credit: Lloyd Lee – Paris Tilt Shift, Montparnasse / / Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Futuroscope pilot High School: Helping students make their way in the digital world

Econocom 27 Apr 2015

Futuroscope’s LP2I International Innovative Pilot High School is no ordinary educational establishment. For almost 30 years, it has trained students to adapt to a society that is constantly evolving. With one eye on the students themselves and another on external influences, LP2I’s objective is to give pupils maximum independence and the means to adapt to an increasingly digitalised professional world.

At the start of January 2013, the high school went fully digital: students and staff alike were given touch-screen tablets, lessons could be downloaded online, and timetables were made more flexible to give each student personal attention. This gives students the opportunity to work on several individual and group projects that they later enter into their WEBfolio – an electronic portfolio in which they can also include extra-curricular projects. Hélène Paumier, who teaches literature, ICTE and media, tells us more.


A high school that is 100% ‘digital for all now’

LP2I opened in 1987 in Jaunay-Clan, France, at the same time as neighbouring theme park Futuroscope. It became the first high school in France to go fully digital. On 1 January 2013, every student, teacher and member of the support staff had a tablet in hand. Since then, photocopiers have become a thing of the past – all documents produced by the teachers are uploaded to thedigital workspace. For students and teachers alike, this new style of working has provided new perspectives, and makes teaching more interactive. However, although students are encouraged to download the learning material before each lesson, they do not have to use tablets during it, and can still take written notes if they so wish.


There is no need to buy books, as everyone now uses onlyelectronic textbooks. Some teachers, including Hélène Paumier, however, lament the limited choice available:

“Many publishers, such as Hatier, Nathan and Bordas, offer electronic textbooks. But we find it difficult to obtain suitable books that are truly interactive and cater to our educational requirements”. 

In their first year, pupils are given tablets which they can keep when they leave the school, after having passed their baccalaureate exams. One snag is that some tablets don’t stay the course.

“It’s not that our students are heavy-handed, but tablets aren’t designed to spend three years in a rucksack. Some of them don’t make it!” 


The WEBfolio for storing students’ work

In the pilot high school, 500 students – who are selected according to their motivation – are trained to be more independent, responsible, open and creative. This is done by reorganising the traditional school timetable: lessons last 50 minutes so that part of the teaching time can be allocated to in-depth study, skills monitoring and interdisciplinary work. That is where the idea of the WEBfolio came from. Hélène Paumier says that the students needed a place to store all their different projects:

“Lots of former pupils would contact us after leaving the school to find out if we’d kept copies of videos or audio projects they had done while at LP2I because they needed them for their post-school activities. Sometimes teachers had copies, sometimes they didn’t. That’s when we came up with the idea of a portfolio in which students could store all of their projects”.

The teachers began by setting up a digital portfolio project that involved creating mind maps designed using Freeplane software. However, they quickly became aware that students weren’t particularly interested in the idea and that it gained little buy-in. So, in 2012, they started from scratch and came up with the WEBfolio. The idea is simple: a list of tools is made available to students so they can choose the medium or media that best suits their project. There’s Prezi for slideshows, WordPress, Tumblr and SoundCloud for audio, Picasa for photos, Youtube and Vimeo for videos, the list goes on. Once the desired tools are selected and the necessary elements gathered, students canbuild their WEBfolio:

“Students often ask us whether they can put such-and-such a thing in their WEBfolio. We tell them they can put anything in it they deem relevant: scanned school reports, photos of a trip abroad, etc. We give them ownership by saying ‘It’s YOUR WEBfolio, it’s YOU who decides what structure you want it to have and what you want to put in it according to your choice of study'”. 

For Hélène Paumier, the idea is that the WEBfolio will develop alongside the student, and will eventually be followed up on websites like LinkedIn or Viadeo.


Informing students about legal issues

The issue of copyright crops up time and again, as the whole basis of the WEBfolio is about helping minors publish their work online. Hélène Paumier is clear on this: the students are extremely well-informed, and they must give written consent before content is uploaded to the Internet. Their WEBfolios are treated like personal websites where they publish work as individuals, not as LP2I students.

“The students already understand the tools, but we have to explain the legal implications. They don’t know about Creative Commons licenses and don’t understand why they can’t use a song to illustrate a video if they don’t have authorisation”.

Hélène Paumier believes that lectures on these issues are not useful; instead, it is essential to put students in a position where they can publish. At the écriTEch’6 exhibition, she explained that:

“The role of the school is to support students as they explore the world of the web in order to teach them to state their sources, respect the rights of others, use Creative Commons licenses, and so on. The work has proven particularly instructive: after producing a radio show, you are never again the same as a listener”. 

Schools must therefore help their students become informed Internet users, and that clearly requires giving them the right tools. At LP2I, students use computers – at school in dedicated periods or at home – to work on their WEBfolio projects. They don’t use tablets, as these are more suited to research and consultation than production.


It is also the school’s job to help students better understand and use digital tools. Providing young people with training in digital technology is a concern that cannot wait. Education is at the heart of the Digital for all NOW movement, and it will help us build the future of our society! 



Explore in more detail:

Pierrick Petillon: “Tablets in schools completely transform the role of the teacher in the classroom”

Digital schools in the Seine-Saint-Denis : an « educational shock »

Digital technology and data security must be reconciled in schools too


Photo credit: ebayink – Tablet use 1 / / Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

#Retail and tablets: a match made in heaven? – The L’occitane example

Econocom 24 Apr 2015

Since the start of 2014, growing numbers of sales assistants at personal care retailer L’Occitane have been carrying around tablets with a digital sales aid installed. The distribution of tablets started in L’Occitane’s US stores and later spread to Europe. The ambition is to steadily equip all stores with tablets to make staff’s lives easier and offer customers an enhanced experience. It’s an initiative that is very Digital for all NOW, proving that retailers have grasped the importance of the digital transformation!


An app that caters to assistants’ every need

The app was developed internally by L’Occitane’s IT department to help staff familiarise themselves with the company’s products and find these more easily at the point of sale. The app shows a planogram – a diagram showing the layout of products on the shelves – which was previously only available from the Intranet as a print-out. It also provides access to customer account details so that sales assistants can view the purchase history, favourite products or purchasing channels of the customer in front of them. It will soon provide personal recommendations too.


But tablets are not only useful for CRM. Assistants across the pond use tablets to ring through sales ‘on the fly’ from anywhere in the store. Using a simple dongle, the tablet turns into a fully fledged electronic payment terminal. The result is a more streamlined customer journey, since the sale can be completed immediately after a customer is advised by an assistant – there is no need for them to wait around at the till. The risk of shoppers abandoning their purchases is therefore reduced, and the whole experience improved.


The European model is slightly different, as sales assistants can’t currently use this function. They do, however, have mobile EPTs for processing card transactions. Yet the retailer would like to take a leaf out of the Americans’ book (and quickly) so that European sales assistants will no longer have to juggle between their tablet and mobile EPT.


Gregori Hromis, Head of the Sell Out team (retail, CRM and digital) is confident that once the roll-out is complete, the new technology will become a real asset for customers. The French brand is already in high spirits thanks to extremely positive feedback from stores equipped with the devices.


Will digitisation of points of sale soon be the norm?

They help sales assistants cater to well-informed customers and save customers time by cutting queues, but tablets don’t only improve the customer journey in store, they also make a brand stand out and therefore attract a customer base that is increasingly scattered and solicited from all sides.


More generally, digital tools provide new commercial opportunities, such as terminals displaying interactive product catalogues (like at the Miliboo hyper-connected store), electronic loyalty cards, or physical or virtual retail beacons used to send personal and super-localised offers to customers’ smartphones. The above are just a few examples, but one thing is certain: digital technology is leading us towards ever more personal and fruitful customer relationships!



Explore in more detail:

Retail and Big Data: a race against the clock

Making consumer ‘fall in love’ with in-store digital technology


 Photo credit: Beat Küng – L’Occitane / / Licence CC BY-NC 2.0

‘Digital for all’ at Société Générale: “Giving employees the tools to build the bank of the future“

Econocom 22 Apr 2015

No, we’ve not forgotten those three little letters N, O and W. ‘Digital for All’ is the name of a Société Générale programme designed to speed up the bank’s digital transformation through employee engagement. Although Société Générale was founded 150 years ago, it is anything but old-fashioned. The bank is committed to a culture of innovation and digital transformation. It plans to gradually roll out latest-generation office and collaborative tools to its teams, equip most staff with tablets, and update its infrastructure and network to facilitate wider Wi-Fi coverage. All the while ensuring that information remains secure. Head of Corporate Resources and Innovation Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles is responsible for the project’s operational management. She coordinates all of the Group’s activities concerning digital transformation in all its forms.

How has a company as old and as vast as Société Générale managed to challenge itself to employ a culture of innovation and digital technology? How do you get thousands of employees involved in building the future? Here’s how.


A far cry from the stereotypical image of a stuffy old banker sitting behind the desk looking sullen, with its ‘Digital for All’ programme Société Générale is marking a new phase in its digital journey and mobile offering. The Group is stepping up its transformation into a digital butterfly: 10,000 staff are already equipped with tablets and, by the end of Q3 2015, 50,000 more in France and 30,000 globally will be too. Why? To transform working methods, develop even closer customer relationships and better address customers’ needs.



“Technically, and also in terms of management and logistics, distributing [tablets] is much more complicated than it seems.”

That’s according to Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles, project supervisor and the woman in charge of Société Générale’s digital transformation. In the workplace, the bank does much more than just handing out tablets to its staff – they are given a short training course too.  ‘SoGé’ also organises Cafés 2.0 workshops that teach basic digital skills. Last but not least, employees have access to an online help service via the Intranet and a best practice guide with information on security and reputation management on social media.

As it stands, Société Générale’s IT department has already developed around 20 company applications that provide access to emails, the company directory and videos. These are available from the SG Store, and apps for specific business lines will steadily be added. Furthermore, to facilitate the use of tablets in-branch, the Group is in the process of rolling out Wi-Fi coverage to all its sites (10,000 hotspots by the end of 2016).

According to Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles, a third of the 148,000 Group employees are already ‘hyper-connected’. It is up to them too to form the vanguard in the digital revolution:

“The first teams across the Group have to act as ambassadors”.



The Digital for All programme isn’t just about tablets. An agreement with Microsoft means Société Générale will set up Office 365 and collaborative tools – such as the Lync video conferencing solution – on employees’ workstations. The Group also intends to publish its own MOOCs (massive open online courses) over the course of the year on digital usages and banking activity.  Another development area is updating the enterprise social network (ESN) to encourage exchange, break down barriers to communication and create communities of experts. For the Head of Corporate Resources and Innovation, it provides an alternative to email without in any way rendering it obsolete:

 “These new tools don’t only make us reconsider the customer journey, but also our own working methods”.

Delving deeper into collaborative working methods also leads to a review of teleworking, which was voluntarily trialled by more than 400 staff members in 2014. It has been extended to other departments and business lines, with the aim of having close to 2,000 voluntary teleworkers by the end of 2015.

Perhaps it is the first step towards a Belgian social model, where working from home has become the norm and staff don’t even have their own permanent workstations?



A collective initiative launched internally in May 2013 was the catalyst for consulting employees on digital transformation. A PEPS (a Collaborative, Inspirational and Experimental Project) was opened for all Group employees worldwide. The challenge? To conceive the bank of the future, focusing on three key areas: customer relations, internal working methods and digital technology.

In total, 15,000 employees from 19 countries were heavily involved in the project, coming up with a thousand ideas on remote working, post-trade banking, digital safes, an internal wiki, and more… Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles explains that:

“We wanted to use 2.0 tools. The enterprise social network, SG Communities, turned out to be the perfect space for encouraging communication and discussion, gaining traction for the plan among employees, cultivating ideas and drawing on collective intelligence”.

All staff members needed to be able to communicate, without business line, hierarchy or location becoming an obstacle.



“Banking isn’t this closed, antiquated world that some people imagine it to be.”

For Mercadal-Delasalles, banks’ technological clout is something that really attracts new talent, making them as interesting as start-ups or even the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) group.  For Société Générale, digital transformation is an opportunity, and innovation is a strategic priority for providing better customer service.

For several years, the Group has worked with creative digital stakeholders, in particular through partnerships with the École Centrale University on the IOI open innovation institute, and the Paris Région Lab incubator. The bank is also a signatory of the SME Pact and, more recently, teamed up with the Player community innovation incubator. For over a year now, the Group has also been organising regular hackathons in collaboration with Xavier Niel’s 42 computing school, during which students and Group staff work together.

Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles says it like it is:

“We must learn from the GAFAs, who have succeeded – in a very intelligent way – in creating interactions with their users on a daily basis, if not more […] We also need to learn from start-ups, who are extremely agile, so that we can maintain a start-up spirit in a company that is 150 years old and has 150,000 employees”.

Is agility a key element in digital transformation and the Digital for All (Now!) campaign?  For Françoise Mercadal-Delasalles, the answer is a resounding yes! And while tablets, collaborative tools and enterprise social networks provide a gateway for companies into the digital world, they also help businesses become more flexible and agile. More digital technology equals greater agility? Greater agility equals more digital technology? The two are interdependent, and vital in the race for better performance. But one thing is certain, whether it’s agility or digital technology, it should be FOR ALL and NOW!


Further reading:

Daniel Jarjoura: “Companies need to learn from start-ups and their capacity for innovation in order to succeed”

Three tips for breathing entrepreneurial spirit into large organisations

Going digital: What do you expect from your bank?


Photo credit: Guillaume Lemoine – Firmware Update / / Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

#Retail and the #beacon phenomenon

Econocom 17 Apr 2015

Picture the scene: you go into a shop and receive a message on your smartphone: it’s the shop welcoming you and giving information about the latest special offers. A little later, while you’re browsing, another notification comes: a discount voucher for the very product you’re looking at. This is no longer the stuff of a Marketing Director’s dream: thanks to beacon technology, it’s now possible.


Beacons are indoor positioning systems that use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to communicate with nearby devices. Very popular with retailers, who use them to notify customers about special offers or personalise the shopping experience, they came – until recently – in the shape of a little device, but London-headquartered marketing software specialists SmartFocus have launched the virtual beacon, which doesn’t require installing any physical infrastructure.


FROM THE ibeacon TO THE virtuAl Beacon

Apple first introduced the technology when it launched the iBeacon back in 2013 and sold it in the US Apple Stores. The little transmitter could send push notifications to customers’ mobile devices, provided they’d installed the iBeacon program (included in the latest iOS updates) and activated Bluetooth.



Apple’s iBeacon


The iBeaconsin Apple Stores inspired retailers such as the Macy’s department store chain and clothing brand American Eagle to roll out Shopkick’s shopBeacon. In France, companies such as the Carrefour hypermarket chain and PMU, the state-owned chain of betting shops, were the first to deploy the technology. The PMU found a rather inventive use for it during the World Cup in 2014: beacons installed in its partner restaurants and bars sent users of the PMU app a notification inviting them to bet on matches.


To address this growing demand, companies from giants such as Orange  to startups like French outfit Ubudu are coming up with offers. In terms of hardware, whereas indoor positioning used wireless, low-energy sensors, SmartFocus’ new virtual beacons could make these obsolete. With no physical hardware to install, no maintenance, it’s entirely virtual:  as SmartFocus’ MD Xavier Banti explains:

“Algorithms measure fluctuations in the magnetic field via sensors in smartphones. No other mapping technology can get the same results, using just a basic store map and without requiring a physical infrastructure.”



With SmartFocus’ new virtual beacon, part of its cloud-based marketing suite, brand marketers have a holistic view of their customers, enabling them to deliver even more personalised marketing interactions. Whilst small local shopkeepers pride themselves on knowing the faces and tastes of their most loyal customers, beacons, whether virtual or physical, once connected to a marketing app can identify a customer who only came once, several months ago to buy a single item and send them a special offer related to the initial purchase.  If this sounds alarming, it should be noted that customers have to opt in to the geolocation service for retailers to be able to track them and target them with recommendations, rewards or special offers.


Further reading:

> Miliboo: the hyper-connected store

> eCommerce et boutiques : vers une communauté de destin

> How to attract smartphone-addicted customers


Photo credit: mark sebastian – Apple Retail Store, NYC (#28896) and Jonathan Nalder – beacons by / / Licence CC BY 2.0

Generous investors seek promising digital startups

Econocom 14 Apr 2015

Partech Ventures has launched Europe’s biggest digitalstartup fund, with €60 million earmarked to fund innovative tech and Internet companies. A positive initiative for the entrepreneurial culture and the digital ecosystem – two of the mainstays of the Digital for all, Now movement!


What do e-learning platform Kartable, online retailer of “customisable” clothes, Mood by Me, miniature cloud storage console Lima and Klara, an app for communicating with doctors, have in common? Apart from their success, these startups are also all part of the portfolio of Partech Ventures, a venture capital fund that helps early-stage tech companies everywhere from Paris to Berlin and Silicon Valley.



€60 Million TO finance 70 Tech startups

A few months after launching Partech Entrepreneur, a €30 million business angel fund, Partech Ventures is doubling down with the €60 million Partech Entrepreneur II, Europe’s largest digital startup fund. The funds are provided by a number of partners, including Bpifrance and major groups such as Carrefour, Renault-Nissan and Econocom. But then entrepreneurship and digital innovation are part of Econocom’s DNA. As Bruno Grossi, Executive Director, explains:

“Creativity and initiative are essential for the success of major digital projects. Supporting the talents who have these qualities, both within and outside the group, is therefore our duty. It’s also a constant source of innovation and rejuvenation.



The lucky beneficiaries of the fund will receive between €300,000 and €1 million, with the possibility of obtaining further funding during the next round of financing. So what’s the key to landing these major investors? Just come up with an innovative app or disruptive technology: whether it’s in the field of connected devices, Big Data or retail. But be warned – competition is fierce:  some 3,000 applications are submitted every year. Only the most promising ideas make it into the Partech Ventures hall of fame, which currently includes Dailymotion, La Fourchette, Yelp, and Sigfox.


And it’s not just about financing: the startups selected also benefit from the expertise and advice of serial-entrepreneurssuch as Romain Lavault and Boris Golden, the Partech Shaker, 2,200 m² of office space for startups in the centre of Paris boasting high-end, flexible private offices, and an impressive ecosystem.




In the open innovation campus, run by Marie Raichvarg, resident startups have access to office space as well as interactive, collaborative areas to develop synergies thanks to the latest digital innovations and a series of events to promote learning and exchanges … An ideal environment for tomorrow’s digital makers!


> See also: The Shaker: an open innovation campus opens its doors in Paris


Photo credit: Paolo Margari – cheap portable maps: 1 euro coin [macro] / / Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

#ROOMN2015: “No one wants an app that takes more than three seconds to open“

Econocom 14 Apr 2015

Mobility is central to digital transformation and the Digital for all, Now! movement.For two days, business line and IT managers got together at the Rendez-vous One-to-One de la Mobilité numérique (ROOMn) expo to talk about this very subject. This year, the focus was on user experience (UX). From creating mobile apps to implementing KPIs, UX has become an essential element of digital mobility projects – one point the Digital Makers at the event agree on…


Whilst smartphone sales are exploding, companies are still slow on the uptake where mobility is concerned. According to a report by McKinsey on digital adoption in enterprises across 28 European countries, France ranked 26th! Some of the most frequently-cited obstacles to digital transformation are lack of organisational flexibility, in-house digital skills and financing. And yet the benefits are undeniable: as Eric Hazan, Partner at McKinsey & Company pointed out in his opening keynote at the event:

“The operating profit of companies that have successfully made the mobile transition is 40% higher than those that haven’t yet started or finalised theirs.” 

And the potential is huge: if organisations speed up their digital mutation, the proportion of digital in France’s GDP could increase by €100 billion by 2020.


M-commerce, geofencing, mobile wallets, click & collect: retailers have a range of digital resources to help them engage customers and get them to interact through a mobile experience. And digital mobility shouldn’t just be an “extra”, but a major driver of competitiveness.


So how to offer an integrated, personalised customer experience? How to optimise cross-channel experiences and anticipate uses? What are the traps to avoid?  These and many other questions were raised by companies looking to make the digital transformation at ROOMn.


ROOMn : tweet de Dominique Lemoine



user experience: THE BACKBONE OF DIGITAL mobilitY

“The mobile is an essential tool for the customer experience.” 

For Pascal Lannoo, Digital Customer Experience Director for, the French national railways’ travel booking website, the mobile issue is crucial: over half of the site’s traffic comes from mobile devices. And, despite the fact that user experience is still considered a soft science, managed to multiply the number of connections to personalised accounts on its mobile site by 25! How? By offering useful, functional services, as opposed to selling gadgets:

“A good customer experience should really stand out. You have to think in terms of phases of experiences: pre-sales, during the journey, after sales. It has to be more efficient and qualitative for the customer.” 

A few months ago, this UX specialist talked about the criteria that need to be taken into account when monitoring customer experience:

“At Voyages-Sncf, we read all the customer reviews on the app stores and have an in-house team that analyses customer data and any negative customer experiences (e.g. shopping cart abandonment). We then use that as a guide to improve our applications. Conversion is important, but we have two other KPIs that we keep a close eye on: customer satisfaction and the NPS (Net Promoter Score, i.e. the rate of customer recommendations).”


Tweet de ROOMn_mobilite


“Love, money and Growth”: THE secrets OF A SUCCESSFUL  app 

Concerning the UX approach, Alexandre Jubien, a consultant for ROOMn and former head of mobility for Deezer and Viadeo, explains that beta-testing is essential:

“You need to get out of the ivory tower and talk to about thirty people representing future users. ‘Love’ means making sure that the first 100 users of the app are hooked.”


Tweet de Thomas Bensoussan


After “Love” comes “Money”: paid functionalities, advertising, m-commerce… there are countless ways to monetise apps, but they have to be right for the target audience. In Alexandre Jubien’s opinion, it’s the first users who should help determine this. These users should also be consulted at the Growth stage of the application, while the codes are still being written. By giving users an interactive prototype to test, developers can then observe their reactions to the various functionalities: which ones are popular? Which ones don’t they use? Anything superfluous should be scrapped: you don’t want to flood the app with useless services.


This is a lesson insurance group AXA learned. During a conference, Benoit Cizeron, Axa’s Head of Mobile said:

“With the first version of our new app, we resisted the temptation to put all the company’s services on it. We just but the essential stuff because customers have a very short attention span.”

Where the interface is concerned, however, Alexandre Jubien recommends conservatism:

“I wouldn’t necessarily advise innovating in terms of the interface. You’d do better to go along the lines of Apple and Google, because these are the standards that shape users’ habits.” 

He believes that the focus should be not so much on the ergonomics but the business expertise highlighted. The landing page of the app is also important as it can attract and recruit beta-testers. To achieve this, it needs to be very visible online; SEO is therefore key.

One last point: the icon. It shouldn’t be an afterthought: a good icon can result in more than a 30% increase in daily downloads. Along with the name and description, the icon is what attracts users and puts an app on the map in the app stores.


ROOMn : tweet d'Anne Lenoir


Above all, what transpired from ROOMn 2015 was that a user experience-based approach, whoever the user is (prospect, beta-tester or customer), is central to digital mutations. Striving for user adherence should be the main priority throughout the lifecycle of a digital project: focusing the digital transformation on people, because that’s also what Digital for All, Now is all about.



> See also: Is UX design the key to digital transformation


Photo credit: stefanie marie – smartphone era / / Licence CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0

#Twictée: Dictation in the digital age

Econocom 3 Apr 2015

You will no doubt have heard of twittclasses, where teachers use microblogging site Twitter as a teaching tool – but have you heard of the “twictation,” an interactive dictation in under 140 characters? A number of French schools have been experimenting with this method, designed to familiarise students with digitals tools on the one hand whilst adopting the younger generation’s use of technology to engage them in the learning process and thus help them improve spelling skills through a collaborative approach.


 Twictée et tablettes à l'école numérique


“twictAtion”: HOW DOES IT WORK?

The principle of a twictation is the same as a traditional dictation: the teacher dictates a sentence of 140 characters (i.e. the tweet format), which he/she has previously prepared with colleagues from other twittclasses. Students write down the sentence individually then are put into small groups so they can deliberate together over the correct spelling of each word. The groups then write out each sentence on the class tablet or PC and send it via private message on Twitter to their partner twittclass. The second twittclass then marks it and tweets the corrected version along with explanations.


Twictée : les #twoutils


Tablettes à l'école


The twictation is the brainchild of teachers Régis Forgione and Fabien Hobart. In addition to the advantages of getting students to mark each others’ work, these micro-dictations also teach children how to use digital tools, master the art of retweeting and hashtags, whilst getting the hang of touch screens and interactive digital whiteboards. It’s also an opportunity for the school staff to think about its digital identity and the issue of data security. Some teachers, such as Alexandre Acou,have asked their class to draw up and sign a social media charter.


Charte de publication de la classe d'Alexandre Acou


The twictation is revolutionising teaching methods by creating diverse learning situations, and using Twitter and digital tools make for a more interactive and stimulating learning experience for children.


> See also: Tablets in schools are completely transforming the teachers’ role in the classroom


Coulisses d'une twictée


Christelle Prudon, a twittclass teacher at a primary school near Paris, is delighted at pupils’ enthusiasm:

“They cheer every time I say we’re going to do a twictation. It allows them to play an active role in the learning experience. And they love it when another class retweets them.”

The advantages of the exercise are obvious: a fun way of learning to spell, plus getting students to mark each others’ work creates a sense of solidarity. But twictations and the teaching 2.0 method in general aren’t possible without the necessary equipment: at the very least, tablets or PCs in the classroom. Providing equipment for the school shouldn’t be seen as a secondary issue, and there are a number of obstacles need to be overcome.



The twittclass is a prime example of how schools can be digital makers and instruments of a major change: they’re actively contributing to bringing about equal opportunity in education, through the Digital for All, Now movement.



> See also on Digital for All, Now :

– Digital schools in the Seine Saint Denis: an educational shock

– School is dead: long live school! A look at schools that have gone digital.



Photo credit: Darren Barefoot – Twitter Birds, Close Up ( / Licence CC BY-NC 2.0)

Foundation, digital engineering for building: “A year and a half ago, people thought we were mad“

Vincent Barué 1 Apr 2015

Vincent Barué has been interested in digital engineering for almost ten years now. An architect by training, he uses the principles of BIM – Building Information Modeling, “a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places” – to design digital models for buildings, infrastructures and territories. At the crossroads between engineering and new technologies, Foundation, the company he founded with partner Nicolas Boutet, produces dynamic design management and operational tools for building. For projects such as the University of the Citadelle d’Amiens, the extension of the Roland-Garros stadium, the Art Institute of Chicago or the new Paris law courts, Foundation has worked with some of the leading architecture firms such as Renzo Piano and Christian de Portzamparc. During the BIM World expo which took place on 25 and 26 March in Paris, we asked Vincent Barué about what he does.




What exactly does your job involve?


We provide 3D databases for buildings. We make digital models in which we model and georeference all the information on each element of a project (walls, doors, windows, etc.): Who built it? Out of what?  When was it/will it be built? How much does it cost? How sustainable is it?


We can go into great detail, such as modelling the fluids that circulate inside a building or analysing the composition of the rubber in a window seal.

Modélisation 3D de la Tour Montparnasse

3D model of the Montparnasse Tower in Paris: every single building element is detailed



Modeling a project does take time, but there’s a definite ROI: thanks to digital models, for example, we can know how much a project will cost and how a building will behave structurally once it’s completed.



Why did you choose the name Foundation?


We’re all geeks and science fiction fans! So we were naturally inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, which is about a scientist who collects huge volumes of information to create an encyclopaedia that allows him to predict how people will behave. And that’s what we do: we collect and structure information in3D databases in order to predict the acoustic, thermal and economic behaviour of a building.



How did you get into digital engineering?

 “A year and a half ago, people thought we were mad. They didn’t know what we were talking about.” 

One of the ways we started was with BIM, a collaborative working process using digital models. For eight years that’s what we did with major projects like the Parc des Princes, Roland-Garros and the Euro 2016 stadium.


 > See also: #BIM: bringing a sea change to the industry’s workflow



Things evolved in quite a surprising way: we have a very small team and soon started handling some large-scale projects. This meant we had to find ways of setting up and configuring databases whilst deploying design tools for the architects and engineers. Basically, this means that for designing stadia, we had to devise tools that calculate the number of seats, the spectators’ visibility coefficients and trigger alerts for entry and exit times.


3D model of the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris



How does digital engineering differ from traditional working methods?


The digital models mean we don’t have to build everything in two dimensions. Before, when an architect wanted to move a door, he would have to move it in the cross-section, in the elevation, and on the floor plan. As this process couldn’t be automated, the design phase took a lot longer. What we do is offer tools that speed up production so that architects can focus more on design, on originality and quality. It’s as if, during the design phase, you can virtually build your project before physically doing it, which means there are no errors or omissions. There are no geometrical inconsistencies when you’re working in 3D.


Another thing: when working the traditional way, you don’t produce much at the beginning and afterwards, you’re constantly having to redo things: the architect has to draw the plan, so does the engineer, so you end up with loads of different plans. Whereas with digital models, everyone works on the same central model and so has access to the same information at the same time.



Digital model of the Elithis Danube Tower in Strasbourg




“We’re called upon at all the different stages of a project.”

It would be a shame to combine and structure all this information and only use it for the building phase. Our models are digital avatars: they’re a synchronous copy of the actual building that enable us to track it throughout its lifecycle: from design to operation, and through building and marketing. Clients therefore have rapid access to reliable, up-to-date information.




Operations account for 75% of the building lifecycle. So our digital models can be used for property registry databases: by clicking on a property, you can find out who lives there, how long they’ve been living there and for what cost: people in charge of building maintenance and operations can therefore get all the information they need with just a few clicks. We can also implement alert systems, for example to say when it’s time to replace a fire extinguisher or when standards are amended.

“We don’t sell BIM, we sell services.”

What takes the longest is modelling and structuring the database for a project. Once that’s done, we can develop services and  added-value features, like setting up a gateway to our clients’ business applications and rolling out technology such as facility management, smartphone apps, etc. The services are designed to help the client throughout the whole lifecycle of the project, like digital breadcrumbs, and are always geared towards saving them time and money.




So that our clients can understand the information immediately, we enhance the raw models with light and shade. That’s important because we centralise a great deal of information but we have to make the virtual tangible.

“We’ve hired two video game developers.”

We also offer virtual reality solutions so that people can browse through the model in real time and to scale. With a VR headset they can really go inside the building and can get an idea of things like ceiling height, see how the materials react to light, etc. So they can really appreciate the comfort and functionality of the building, at the design and marketing stage.

Visite d’une maquette grâce à un casque d’immersion 3D

Exploring a model with a 3D immersion headset



What sort of obstacles and misgivings have you come across when rolling out these tools?


This technology is already being used in the aeronautical, aerospace and automotive industries, but it’s difficult introducing it in the construction business because skills tend to be compartmentalised.

“There’s a definite interest in BIM but the industry needs to evolve.”

Whether it’s architects, engineers or economists, people are rather negative about it because it takes them out of their comfort zone, in terms of accountability, structuring equipment, training, etc. But for the digital models to be really reliable, all the people involved in the project have to access and understand the protocols throughout the entire project. Foundation helps all professionals, at every stage of the project lifecycle. To achieve digital for all, now, you have to educate the market!



> See also: A smart building should be an open ecosystem


Miliboo, the hyperconnected store: “Creating a bridge between the digital and physical worlds“

Aline Buscemi 30 Mar 2015

Launched in 2007, online furniture retailer was initially a pure play, selling its products online only. In October 2014, Miliboo decided to open a brick-and-mortar store, a hyper-connected shop in central Paris, with touch screens, NFC cards and 3D glasses so that customers can enjoy a unique experience – a rather hackneyed expression in the retail world, except this time, it’s true! We spoke to co-founder Aline Buscemi. 



Touch tablets at the Miliboo store




Why did you decided to open a hyper-connected store?


When we set up the company, we wanted to sell online only. The idea of the shop came about through our customers: over the past few years, more and more people were asking us where they could try out our products and a lot of them asked if Miliboo had a brick-and-mortar store.


Faced with this growing demand, we realised we had to change our strategy and come up with something new. The problem is that we were aware that furniture shops were running out of steam and were having trouble attracting customers. So we asked ourselves: how do we get customers into the shop? And that’s when we thought of having a totally connected, digital space, with a number of tools to link to the website,


#Retail : le retour en grâce du offline avec le digital

– Digital technologies can reconcile customers with brick-and-mortar stores




What’s the typical shopping experience for a customer in the Miliboo store?


We’d imagined a seamless shopping experience, and the technology available made this possible. We wanted to offer clients similar services to the ones available on the website, like personalising a product on a screen or recreating their home interior and incorporating Miliboo furniture into it using a 3D immersion headset.

 “Creating a bridge between the digital and physical worlds.” 

The store is made up of various “inspiration” islands: each one is equipped with a tablet on which customers can access a detailed catalogue of the products. When a customer arrives, we give them a Milicard, an NFC card that links up to the website. With the card, customers can log onto their account on one of the screens and thus access their virtual shopping basket. That way they can easily find the products they chose in store. The card also gives them access to personalised offerings: customers who’ve already purchased online can use their loyalty points in store, and win additional points by reviewing products.

“With digital technology, we can fit 2,500 furniture references in 600m².”

In addition to the tablets, there are larger screens on kiosks featuring all the brand’s products. The interface on the kiosks is different from the website: it’s optimised for a store environment and for the screen size and searching is really simple. Customers can even pay for their orders as all the kiosks have credit card payment terminals.



How did you go about deploying all these tools?


Miliboo decided to do everything in-house, which is rather unusual in our market. Thanks to our development team, all the technical development of the apps was done internally, except the 3D immersion, which was handled via a partnership with Home by Me, a subsidiary of Dassault Systemes.

“A year and a half’s planning.”

We first started thinking about the shop a year and a half before we opened in October 2014. What with local research and developing the tools, the project itself took just over 6 months.


Miliboo : kios

Digital kiosks




Where do the sales staff fit in with all this digital equipment?


The tools aren’t meant to replace people! They’re really sales tools. The sales staff have access to a comprehensive, personalised catalogue and can show customers specific features of a product.

Digital shouldn’t be seen as an alternative to humans. Technology is a shopping aid, an additional feature: it just makes shopping easier and offers an alternative, enhanced experience. And all the in-store kiosks have a “Call sales assistant” button.



What sort of feedback have you had from customers?


We’ve had all sorts of reactions but on the whole, the response has been positive as the tools are quite easy to get the hang of.  Everyone these days has a smartphone, so going into a shop and browsing on a screen comes quite naturally.

“We wanted to keep the spirit of a traditional shop whilst incorporating a digital dimension.” 

The very first contact with the customer is crucial: you have to explain how the store works and set up their card. After that, you can pretty much leave them to their own devices: some customers want to do everything themselves, without assistance from the shop staff, but that’s pretty rare. It’s quite interesting to analyse. The shop hasn’t been open long enough for us to have any reliable figures, but we take a great deal of interest in customer behaviour in order to improve our tools and make them easier to use.




So what’s next? Connected furniture?


As part of our aim to offer the customer something extra, we’ve started thinking about the furniture of the future. That’s how the connected sofa came about. You can charge up your smartphone just by putting it on the arm-rest (contact-free technology), listen to music via Bluetooth, order TV channels or control the room’s lighting, etc.


The sofa also has sensors that can tell whether the user is sitting comfortably or not. There’s an app that collects information about their position or how long they’ve been sitting, etc. The app also has some more fun options such as an alarm that goes off if someone sits in the user’s seat when they go away!

“We’ve already developed a connected sofa project in-house.”

For the past few months the team has been working on connected furniture. The sofa was the first one. It’s too soon to say any more but let’s just say a number of other connected products will come out in 2015 …



“Digital for all, now IS REALLY HAPPENING”

What does “Digital for All, Now” mean to you?


With smartphones, apps, IoT, our everyday life is digital! It’s an inescapable reality today: we’re all – or nearly all – connected, even when we’re watching TV, so digital really is for everyone, now! And this is just the beginning:  it’s nothing compared to what will happen in the future.




Further reading:

“In a shop, however, we’d choose smaller equipment: a store staffer can’t be holding cumbersome equipment when folding clothes. The range of sizes, degrees of ruggedness, operating systems and accessories is such that we can really find the ideal equipment to suit any industry.”

> Arnaud Affergan : “Digital technology reduces obstacles and increases productivity in companies”


Customer relations: digital, or nothing!

Econocom 25 Mar 2015

Ten years ago, there was no web chat, no smartphone apps and very few emails. Today, digital interactions account for 35% of all exchanges between brands and their clients. If the trend continues, digital channels will overtake telephone communications by 2017 – according to the predictions of the Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report by IT service company Dimension Data. The problem is, most companies aren’t yet ready to incorporate digital into their customer relation strategy…




When it comes to contacting customers, Gen Y (i.e. anyone born between 1981 and 1999) only use the telephone “as a last resort,” and prefer digital channels (email, web chat, social networks, mobile apps, SMS and video chat). Interestingly, these means of communication are also set to overtake the telephone for Gen X, (born between 1961 and 1980. Where customer relations are concerned, digital is thus fast establishing itself as the preferred channel. In the words of Adam Foster, Group Executive for Dimension Data, this report revealed “the most important industry change we’ve seen in the last 30 years: the growing irrelevance of the telephone-centric model.”




Gone is the cliché of contact centre staff glued to their telephone all day – or at least, it very soon will be. The report stresses the importance for contact centres to adopt digital technologies in order to remain competitive:

“The new generation of tech-savvy consumers entering the market – mostly Generation Y – use the phone only as a last resort for queries that couldn’t be solved in any other way. Customers younger than 40 would much rather use social media and web chat than any other way of achieving their desired service outcomes. So, for contact centres, the message is clear: incorporate digital channels into your overall engagement strategy, or face extinction.”

Currently, 57% of centres remain voice-only and 35% of agents are now multiskilled across voice and non-voice engagement channels, which is an improvement on previous years.




But it’s not just a question of incorporating digital communication channels: companies have to be able to measure the ROI of their investment. For example, are conversion rates higher online than over the phone? How many of the emails sent are opened? What’s the hourly cost of a web chat sessions?


The answers to these questions of course lie in data analysis. And yet 40% of contact centres have no analytics capabilities, and despite the strategic importance of Big Data, 52% of respondents said they don’t share customer intelligence outside of the contact centre. 40% of contact centre technologies aren’t integrated with the wider enterprise at all, and, what is more alarming: 40% say IT doesn’t meet current needs and nearly 80% believe current systems won’t meet future needs.


A number of solutions mean it’s already possible to improve the performance of customer services by allowing interactions over a variety of channels and using analytics to personalise and optimise loyalty strategies: for example, hybrid solutions that blend cloud architectures with legacy technologies. So there’s no excuse not to adopt Digital for All, Now!



A summary of the Dimension Data report is available for free (22 pages): 2015 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report. 901 participants in 72 countries.


Photo credit: Johan Larsson – Dropbox / Licence CC BY 2.0