On 6 November, a group of company heads got together at the Paris Stock Exchange. The aim of the event, organised by GE Capital, the US/Canadian subsidiary of General Electric headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut, was to highlight the reasons to believe in an economic upturn in France.
Positivism and opportunities were the watchwords, in spite of the gloomy economic climate in France.
“Companies are competitive, but the French economy isn’t!” said economist Marc Touati.And the opportunities are there.
RECESSION: OPPORTUNITIES TO SEIZE
“Recessions are always opportunities,” Touati goes on. “People who look ahead to the future and innovate won’t necessarily come out on top in the short term, but they’re on the right track. Unfortunately, we’ve been affected by the American subprime system, whereby huge profits were promised for minimal risks. The recession should be over by now: global growth excluding inflation is approaching 3.5%. Except in the Eurozone. So what do we do?”
According to Véronique Di Benedetto, VP of Econocom, the answer is by leveraging the added value and competitiveness offered by digital technologies in order to breathe new life into business models and offerings and thus ensure strong, sustainable growth:
“The system has changed and we’re now in an “experience”-based economy where the focus is on the client. We should relish this opportunity and bear in mind certain key elements: customers are no longer prepared to pay a lot for a product with no added value. They want something unique, easy to use (intuitive) and personalised. They want a completely unique, tailored experience. So that’s what we have to give them. To do so, companies need greater collaboration between the various in-house skills, clients and the whole ecosystem. The economy is becoming collaborative and companies are becoming more extensive, thanks mainly to the social networks. This is a wonderful driver for innovation and new technologies contribute enormously to this.”
This advocate of digital for all, now gives an example:
“People look at their smartphone up to 150 times a day. And yet only 15% of companies have developed a mobile app. Companies who invest in a digital transformation will experience growth rates 3 to 6 times higher than others. This mutation is possible for all companies. Digital is an undeniable driver for competitiveness and differentiation.”
LEARNING BIG LESSONS FROM INNOVATIVE LITTLE START-UPS
So is digital an indispensable step for companies? What is clear is that companies that have gone through the transformation are keeping their head above water, whilst others are struggling to keep up with new digital-savvy players.
“Instead of approaching companies who offer a service, consumers are increasingly going straight to the service,” says Véronique di Benedetto.
“That’s the risk of disintermediation. Look at Airbnb who are disintermediating the hotel industry, and Uber with taxis. Even education will be affected, with for example MOOCs and Khan Academy [free online lectures and courses, Ed]. Companies should take a leaf out of their books and reinvent themselves and their offerings. In the future all companies will be tech and business-oriented.”
There have been plenty of striking examples of this over the past few years, but can the model be applied to all companies?
According to Marc Touati, it’s all a question of mind-set :
“You have to think in terms of products and services, not one or the other, both. You need to promote your know-how, invest in R&D, innovate!”