The leading global tech show reopened its doors with a hybrid online-physical approach: VIVA Technology in Paris, June 2021. This fifth event attracted more than 140,000 visitors (including 26,000 at the venue), and addressed the following topics: global trends through the lens of the pandemic, the positive impact of technology and strengthening of sustainable development strategies. This growing awareness was already apparent at last year’s CES in Las Vegas.
The end of 2020 was all about learning to live with the “new normal”. 2021 could be the beginning of a race, which will probably last several years, to help companies complete their digital transition or transformation, which will be crucial if they are to meet challenges arising from today’s trend of growing respect for people and the planet. More than ever before, this VivaTech show perfectly illustrated this trend.
Sustainable development at the heart of companies’ digital transition
In the field of finance, BNP Paribas is engaging with the circular economy. On the one hand, it is offering its customers financing products that promote the growth of the circular economy.
On the other, BNP Paribas has introduced a policy of reducing paper, water and energy consumption, while equipping its employees with electric vehicles and locating its operations in environmentally friendly buildings. In addition, it has joined forces with 3 Step IT to help companies develop a circular economy strategy.
Cécile Gauffriau, Circular Economy Stream Leader at BNP Paribas Personal Finance, explained how the circular economy is first and foremost an opportunity to come up with new services and solutions: maintenance, resale, recycling, repair… New players with business models based on the circular economy have started to emerge: Vinted, Back Market, Charlotte… And many established brands are taking steps towards the circular economy: Ralph Lauren, Levis, Décathlon (rental services), Galerie Lafayette…
Another sector that is being driven to transform and deeply integrate sustainable development is the travel industry and aviation in particular, due to its CO2 emissions.
In his speech, Vincent Etchebehere, Sustainability Director at Air France, talked about various actions initiated to meet this challenge, such as renewal of the fleet, eco-piloting (reviewed routes, less polluting take-offs, etc.) and the use of bio-fuels, which could eventually reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 90%. The first long-haul flight with sustainable aviation fuel was completed in May.
Arnaud Coiffard, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at OUI.sncf, spoke about two key points related to this challenge: The market share of train transport in France is 10%, and railways remain a clean form of transport, offering a cause for optimism as we look to meet the challenges lying ahead. However, the SNCF is keeping its eyes on the future, with a new, more efficient high-speed train – the TGV M – for 2024, experimentation with a hydrogen train in 2023, and an eco-comparison tool that is now available on the OUI.sncf website, enabling users to calculate and compare their environmental footprint, journey time and free time on-board.
Both of these companies are aligned with their customers’ expectations, and see the need to join the “fight” (Air France compensates for its carbon footprint through reforestation actions for each ticket sold), compensate for a lack of information about responsible consumption (SNCF: one out of every two French people feel that they are poorly informed about sustainable transport issues) and increase transparency (Air France & SNCF use scientific data produced by ADEME, the French Agency for Ecological Transition, to guide their policies).
These are the keys to success for these two players, in order to embrace the economic recovery while protecting the planet, develop multi-modal transport with a focus on railways and speed up the deployment of alternative fuels.
In order for us to make sustainable development a core part of our strategies, we need to know where we are now and, above all, be able to identify avenues for improvement and measure progress. With this in mind, the movement Impact France presented its ‘Tech for Good Score’ at VivaTech, an assessment tool that offers increased transparency about the social and environmental impacts of tech. For stakeholders, particularly consumers and investors, it is also a means of providing transparency.
Half of the total score out of 100 is based on the Impact Score, the aim of which is to assess the social and environmental impact, as well as the way in which value and power is shared within a company; the other half analyzes the impact of digital on society (inclusion, digital technology education, etc.) and the environment (eco-design, carbon footprint of servers, impact on biodiversity, etc.).
Alliances to overcome the pandemic and speed up digital transformation
Following a strategic partnership signed four years ago, Carrefour and Google were able to measure the impacts and benefits of their alliance during the Covid pandemic. Thanks to tools in the Google Workspace suite, Carrefour’s 160,000 employees were able to stay connected, which was absolutely crucial to overcoming the crisis, according to Alexandre Bompart, Carrefour’s CEO.
However, this partnership goes much further. Elodie Perthuisot, e-Commerce & Digital Transformation Manager and Data Officer at Carrefour, explained the three main areas of the transformation conducted in collaboration with Google’s teams.
- Develop an omnichannel experience, with the creation of a digital catalog (20% of customers who go through the checkout consulted the catalog) and the development of Google My Business & Maps, to help customers locate stores and manage store image (20% increase in the NPS), for example.
- Boost e-Commerceby strengthening collaboration between digital marketing and in-store sales, through data infrastructures, using machine learning to automate processes and, lastly, setting up anti-churn campaigns to ensure customer loyalty (1 customer out of 5 is prepared to switch store chains).
- Create value using data, for example with a service that personalizes the product assortment in neighborhood stores, based on machine learning algorithms, which compare, analyze and recommend products by gathering data from several similar stores (like the Netflix of product assortment).
Google is also present in the luxury industry, through a strategic partnership at the show with the LVMH group and its 70 “houses”, which is aimed at speeding up innovation and developing new solutions based on artificial intelligence and the cloud.
AI will make it possible to improve operations in the area of demand forecasting and stock optimization, as well as create a personalized customer experience. As for Google Cloud, it will contribute to modernization of part of LVMH’s IT infrastructure. Training will also be addressed, with the introduction of a ‘Data & AI Academy’ to grow employee skills in the areas of artificial intelligence and data-based value creation.
In the travel and tourism sector, Amadeus is an ERP system that provides solutions enabling companies to safeguard their businesses and improve the traveler experience.
In early 2021, in order to innovate and provide new products and solutions, Amadeus and Microsoft signed a strategic partnership based on three main areas:
- Speed up transition to the public cloud (with Azure), in order to adjust its operational capacity according to needs, market conditions and demand;
- Encourage collaboration between internal and external teams using Microsoft solutions (Teams, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Power Platform, etc.) ;
- Promote innovation and joint-development of products in order to create fresh travel experiences.
Another hot topic at the conferences, against the backdrop of tensions between Europe and the United States, was the issue of data confidentiality. Three of the biggest representatives of GAFAM – Apple, Facebook and Microsoft – each had a private keynote with Maurice Levy, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Publicis Groupe and co-founder of VivaTech.
Combining competition, privacy and user security
For Tim Cook (Apple’s CEO), while the GDPR is legitimate and it would be interesting to roll it out at global level, security remains a core issue. In particular, he regrets to see the European Commission’s proposal for a Digital Markets Act, which would oblige the company to provide an alternative to the Apple Store, making it impossible to guarantee user privacy and security.
Regarding efforts to fight against carbon emissions, the company has integrated the entire chain, from suppliers to the end customer, in its approach. Result: the latest iPhone (12) is made using 40% recycled aluminum and 98% of rare minerals are also recycled.
Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, has a more ambivalent position. He feels that the regulation is not totally bad and that regulating to stimulate competition and create value is a good thing. This is demonstrated by a recent agreement signed with the French groups Orange and Capgemini to provide the American firm’s cloud technology from infrastructure placed under their exclusive control, out of reach of American extraterritorial laws.
For Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, the future is all about augmented and virtual reality. He sees a world where “There will no longer be any need for televisions and screens. It will be possible to project an image anywhere and anytime using augmented reality glasses.” The California-based firm is currently investing billions of dollars in these two technologies in order to build “an extraordinary future in 5 to 10 years’ time.” “It’s an interesting thought experiment if you take a walk during the day and think: how many things in my life don’t have to exist physically and can easily be replaced by a digital hologram in a world with [technical] glasses.” Great opportunities lie ahead!
This hybrid event clearly underlined the need to explore the world’s tech shows and discover the latest innovations that seem likely to contribute to the resilience of companies and organizations.
innovation consultant SQLI