Digital Services Companies (DCS=ESN in French), a brake on digital sovereignty?

Source: Syntec Numérique

This preamble question must be asked. In France we have large ESN like Capgemini, Altran, Atos, Sopra-Steria or even Open (esn) for example. These players alone absorb more than 80% of the consulting market in France. However, they are unconditional promoters of #gafam, given their privileged agreements with Amazon (AWS), Google, Microsoft (Azure) and IBM, as shown by their institutional sites. (Open / Capgemini / etc…)


What are the impacts of this subservience to the American digital giants?


These ESNs are involved in a number of CAC40 companies, but also large industrial groups or large SMEs in many industrial fields. They intervene in the context of public tenders to assist and advise public bodies or administrations in the implementation of major projects. In the case of the Healthcare Data Hub, we have not been able to observe that this contractual subjugation to the digital giants leads to asymmetric (biased?) Advice to the administration in charge of the project, and for example in this specific case to suggest that there are no credible French or European alternatives, which is not the case, and to manage to avoid public calls for tenders… That is a lot, don’t you think? In conclusion the government itself was / is ready to leave our health data to the American appetite!

In addition, what we observe for administrations and state services is also found in the advice provided to large groups. The digital players selected will be in the American majors, at best, a few French digital companies are presented for the calls for tenders, but mainly as an argument …
The same phenomenon occurs for large groups as for state administrations and services: the solutions proposed by ESNs almost invariably result in the choice of an American solution. Even during calls for tenders, a few French digital companies will be presented, but mainly as an argument.


How to change the image of French digital players?


This is clear, this is first and foremost a communication war. And on this ground, it must be admitted, the #gafam have a weight advantage, a phenomenal cash flow (Case of Apple by le Monde) linked to the resale of our personal data, and a user base which alone justifies going through them.

Even if it is difficult to fight them in the pure field of promotion, we must try to provide food for thought and organize ourselves to make the voice of French digital players heard, this is what the PlayFrance.Digitalcollective which was created in April 2020. It is also to a certain extent and with modest means what the Effisyn-sds site does.

PlayFrance.Digital  allows you to discover a large panel of French digital players and highlight their positioning through mapping. We can hope that these initiatives will allow those who wish to pay attention to their data and uses to test these solutions for private or professional uses.

It might also be wise for French digital players to take an interest in universities and grandes écoles (French Engineering School and Business School), and offer them conditions of access to their very competitive technologies. Indeed, the solutions adopted during the studies, integrated with the knowledge acquired can then spread in companies. And it is for this reason that Google, in particular, offers its solutions to large schools, especially retail establishments, such as Essec, which is a good way to make entryism into the future companies of these future decision-makers…

We therefore need a strong movement of carriers of sovereign digital solutions, particularly collaborative or communication in this education sector. In my opinion, it should be supported by a public procurement policy imposing a large quota of sovereign solutions, which can go up to 70%. The money invested in these sovereign solutions will have the advantage of sustaining the survival of these companies and of maintaining and creating jobs on French soil … Let’s not be naive, this is exactly the policy applied by the Americans.


In conclusion


While the task is gigantic and the part badly started, it is not lost. Encouraging signs are appearing, the first of which is the bringing together of French digital players in collective, with the creation of a dynamic map of members to be able to better identify them. There is also a semblance of awareness of our policies who say they want to regain our Sovereignty and, in our case our Digital Sovereignty. It remains to make sure that this will goes beyond words…

What is also important to see is that many French digital start-ups and SMEs are making real innovations, with the management of personal data at heart and are therefore not simple copies of American applications. We even have number of real diamonds, which it would be a shame to see them fall into the American pockets. We must therefore continue to work, to perpetuate the sources of funding that will allow them to maintain their autonomy and sovereignty.


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