Today, I am pleased to share with you an exchange with Alain Garnier , co-founder and CEO of Jamespot, enterprise social network solution but not only.
We had the opportunity to interact on subjects related to digital sovereignty. It was a good opportunity to talk about his entrepreneurial journey, his motivations and to tackle a subject that drives us both, that is the digital sovereignty topic.
[Emmanuel M] : Hello Alain, you co-founded Jamespot in 2005. Could you tell us about the key phases of your development (creation, pivot, takeovers)?
[Alain Garnier] : Hello Emmanuel, It’s true already 15 years for Jamespot… The creation of Jamespot is the desire for the co-founders to put people back into information systems, especially for businesses. And after a first phase oriented “Social Bookmarking” rather B2C, we extended to documents, agenda etc … By adding real time communication (Chat) and this is what founded the basis of the Corporate Social Network resolutely B2B . This is 2010 and this is our first strong pivot. Since then, we have remained in this furrow with a very strong growth. We took on 3 competitors during this phase, which further accelerated growth.
From your point of view what is the main value you want to bring to your customers? And what value do they say they derive from it in their testimonies?
[AG] : It’s hard to sum it up to one value. * laugh * especially since Jamespot is a platform with dozens of Applications to activate which each bring its value… But if I do not retain only one, it is the release of the collaboration whatever the mode chosen: synchronous, asynchronous, in the office or in mobility. And in general, the effects are immediate, for example self-help groups almost always strike!
What are your ambitions for the development of Jamespot in the next three years?
[AG] : We aim to continue serving our customers more and more in depth. For example, we have reinvented the Intranet with Fast Intranet to produce pages as easily as a text document. Another example is Visio, which is a central element of synchronous collaboration in telework. So much for the product. Innovation & uses.
The other ambition is to become the European leader in this field. So it’s international expansion. We have started to lay the foundations for this development. But in our self-funded model it takes time …
The “HDS” offer, dedicated to health data, particularly aroused my curiosity (because of my experience). Can you tell us more about it? About how many customers do you currently have on this offer? What are the specifics?
[AG] : We were delighted when OVHCloud, our main cloud provider, offered HDS hosting. We already had requests, but that allowed us to really enter the health market. We therefore have clients like the CPTS28 and the GIE Val de Loire Santé in order to bring together the fabric of liberal doctors. As we have seen with the Covid crisis, the healthcare world needs tools to coordinate … and we found ourselves facing a shortage not only of masks … but also of ad hoc tools. There is an urgent need for a plan on the subject in France and for Europe.
To finish the overview, could you give us a summary of your financial results and market penetration (if this information is not confidential)?
[AG] : We are used to publishing our accounts. Which is not the case for everyone. * laughs * We had a great year in 2019 with + 30% growth and a positive result, despite having invested a lot … and with regard to 2020, we are on an even stronger growth trend. But the Covid crisis makes us cautious. Who knows what will happen in the months to come after the current measures which prevented the economy from collapsing? We are therefore careful.
After this overview of your activities and the presentation of your solution, we will discuss what caused our meeting. Indeed, activist of digital sovereignty, I would like to know what is your feeling on this subject?
[AG] : huge question. The subject is essential, as we saw with the Covid crisis. All of a sudden, we saw national education, hospitals, under-equipped with digital tools … We had to turn urgently to American tools. It’s obvious. This is only the real situation. Today, more than 76% of the software consumed in France is American. We are therefore dependent. This is a fundamental problem for a developed economy like France.
For the coming months, do you think that this awareness will really change the opinion of decision makers in French companies?
[AG] : I hope so, anyway. The subject has been on the table for a long time. But it was not relayed enough, and basically, the problem “suited” well the decision-makers, in particular large groups, or even ministers, who benefited from “almost free products” …
I feel that the crisis is changing mentalities. And the April 9 Appeal which we launched, brought this subject to the fore again. With the central idea that it is time for Europe to emancipate itself. And this term, more than sovereignty speaks to all. Yes, it is time one day to leave the parents’ cozy nest to make a living. This is what we offer to decision makers.
What solutions do you see to perpetuate our ecosystem of sovereign solutions? What initiatives in this area do you support?
[AG] : I think the main solution is above all cultural. It can also go through the law, to rebalance economic flows. But when you look, it’s a matter of mentality first. In the April 9 Appeal, we push the notion of exemplarity. It is a necessity. As long as the state and the authorities prefer to bring the wolf into the fold by letting American operators offer their free products … we will not be able to fight.
Do you imagine the pentagon taking a French tool? Never. Let us have the same reasoning. Quite simply.
Knowing that for me, it is not a question of “pushing the Americans” out of France. Often criticized for the approach. But to rebalance the market shares of the three macro-continents: USA / Europe / China.
Do you think that Open Source constitutes an alternative in order to strengthen our independence from the American and Chinese giants?
[AG] : The Open Source is one of the elements of the recipe indeed. It fits well with our culture: public services are “commons”. But it cannot be the only answer. The model is precisely to be found between “packaged & owner” services with a strong market logic, and components common to these players.
Today, the two worlds don’t talk to each other enough. And the foundations for a fair economic flow for all are not laid out clearly enough. This is one of the main keys to the original European response to build.
Do you think that France or Europe are capable of producing hardware on their territory or is it a cause already lost? Do we have the skills?
[AG] : There is never a lost cause! On the other hand, there are causes that we don’t try … and they are certainly lost. I take an example, Arduino, an incredible success in IOT. It was initially an Italian initiative! Which has become a world benchmark. And yet, no one would have imagined possible. This is how we should proceed: by stopping to think that it is impossible. And by supporting initiatives that work!
We come to the end of this interview, what would be your conclusion in the form of a message to our readers?
[AG] : How lucky we are to live this period! Everything has to be reinvented in Digital. And after 30 years of a soft Europe, which has undergone cycles and evolutions. It’s time to free yourself to take full advantage of this tremendous revolution. And it’s up to everyone to take the first step on this journey.