Digitizing France

Consumer demand for digital products is high in France, but the economy needs to catch up.

If France could speed up its rate of digital adoption, it could unlock billions of euros in economic value, according to a McKinsey study.

"French companies that have undergone thorough digital transformations may unlock revenue gains of up to 40%, while companies that do not quickly become digitally integrated could lose up to 20% of revenue to competitors," says a McKinsey release.

Currently, consumer demand for digital products in France is healthy. The country scores well on smartphone and tablet sales, and its "digital GDP"— the total of its digitally driven economic activity — has increased to 5.5% of total GDP from 3.2% three years ago. Still, the country stands in eighth place in a digital GDP ranking of 13 countries — well behind top-ranking South Korea. It even lags behind countries such as China and India. It is still slightly ahead of Canada.

France shows some definite advantages — in the area of fixed broadband, for example. But it is weak in others, notably Internet speed. Only 65% of France's companies have websites, compared with 89% in Sweden.

McKinsey outlines some steps France could take to increase its digital footprint:

  • The government could reduce taxes on digital investments, offer public contracts to stimulate digital innovation and secure development for ultra-high-speed fixed and mobile broadband.
  • The universities and "grandes écoles" could invest more in cognitive sciences and semantics for data mining, artificial intelligence and robotics.
  • Large corporations could invest in digital partnerships with small and medium-sized enterprises, acting as venture capitalists to seed the digital ecosyste.
  • Employer and employee organizations could work on educating companies and the public through digital coaches and mentors in companies and conferences on the possibilities digital transformations allow.