Digital for all now

Big Data Paris 2015: “Data is the fuel of the digital economy“

Econocom 19 Mar 2015

Data is fundamental to society and the economy. The main industry players got together last week for the 4th Big Data Paris exhibition, an event which unveils the key trends in this essential market.


“Data is the fuel of the digital economy. Its value increases with every use; it brings about a change in paradigms. You have to have the courage to review the way you see products and services.”

French Secretary of State for Digital Affairs Axelle Lemaire opened  Big Data Paris with a speech in which she encouraged organisations to take advantage of megadata:

“The value of the economy today, and even more so tomorrow, lies in data, often called the 21st-century oil. But the comparison isn’t entirely apt: oil companies in the 20th century often had the monopoly, whereas we’ll need a different model for data.”



Big Data has been the subject of much discussion and debate in recent years. But it’s still in the early stages, as Elias Baltassis, Data & Analytics Director for Boston Consulting Group, said during a keynote at the event:

“We’re in a sector that’s beginning to mature, and fundamental questions are being raised.”

At last year’s Big Data Paris, Baltassis was already concerned that French organisations were late in adopting Big Data:

“Where Big Data is concerned, France is lagging behind other countries, particularly the US. It’s mainly down to Management’s mind-set: at the moment Big Data is much more a technical issue than a managerial or organisational one.”

In 2015, the coordinator of the French government’s “Nouvelle France industrielle” “Big Data” plan, Marc Chemin, was a little more optimistic, observing:

“French companies are now active in Big Data. They’re a bit disorganised, sure, but let’s remember that last year they were still just discovering it.”

This enthusiasm should perhaps be tempered, though. For whilst a number of companies have identified the practical uses of analysing megadata, they tend to separate the technical and business approaches: one focuses on infrastructures, the other on data science. For Didier Gaultier, director of Customer Intelligence at Business & Decision, this lack of convergence prevents organisations from having a holistic approach to projects:

“You can’t define the methodology without taking into account the infrastructure, tools and data available.”


Big data AND IOT: A FLOURISHING alliance

And yet Big Data projects are beginning to flourish everywhere, from multinationals to SMBs and across all industry sectors – a development which prompted Bernard Ourghanlian, Technical and Security Director for Microsoft France, to come up with a new definition:

“Data is becoming the new currency.”

For Ourghanlian, a machine learning specialist, #IoT is indissociable from Big Data. During his keynote, he stressed the importance of structuring data:

“Ambient intelligence can only deliver on its promise if connected devices all speak the same language.”

For at the moment, there is no official standard for the interaction of devices: data can be transmitted in a variety of formats.


Table ronde sur le salon Big Data Paris

Thomas Serval, Co-founder of KOLIBREE, Hugues Severa d’Aviva, Mathias Herberts from Citizen Data and Pascal Brosset from Schneider Electric during the round table on IoT.


A number of startups specialising in IoT also attended this year’s conference, such as Cityzen Data. As founder Mathias Herberts explains:

“We’re surrounded by all sorts of data, in all industry sectors and in our everyday lives. Technology, which is more reliable than people, allows us to collect and measure it. But a problem that is starting to arise more and more is not having the tools to store and analyse these massive volumes of data. What Cityzen Data does is finds solutions to this very problem. We provide companies with big clouds that collect mainly the data from connected devices and find ways to process it.”

The real challenge now is exploiting big data: being able to get the added value out of large volumes of data. For Pascal Brosset, director of innovation at Schneider Electric, this is the key issue:

“The problem isn’t making connected devices but knowing what users do with them and getting the data to talk.”



“Getting data to talk” requires algorithms, of course, but not only that. Benoît Bourdé of Exalead  insists on the importance of the quality of the data, particularly from the point of view of customer relations:

“You need good data, but mainly data that’s linked to other data. Phase 1 is the “snapshot” at the end of the month. Then you need to add the data from the Internet or from outside the company, and then complete the sequences, which is customer behaviour over time.”

According to Bourdé, who specialises in innovative applications, analysing large volumes of qualitative data means companies can measure customer satisfaction and then hone their sales strategy. These sorts of indicators can also be used for prospecting: by closely observing the behaviour of current clients, it’s possible to predict how prospects will respond to a product or service. So if the methodology is right, that’s a ROI guaranteed.

The exhibitors and visitors to Big Data Paris were unanimous: the possibilities of Big Data are immense and we’re only at the beginning of a movement that could revolutionise the way our companies work. As Axelle Lemaire said in her opening address:

“We just need to nurture the potential.”

So, in other words – promote the Digital for All, Now movement.


Photo credit: Philippe – La Défense (Paris) – Night Shots – CNIT et tour SFR / / Licence CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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