31Jan/170

Invest in the digital future?

Gassot-Yves

Yves Gassot,
CEO, IDATE DigiWorld
Contact

The question has been raised, and rightly so. The digital transformation that is expressing itself through the swift and constant stream of innovation and growing achievement (the cloud, ultrafast access, IoT, big data, AI, VR, etc.) is enthralling for many of us, but a source of deep concern for many others.

A sizeable percentage of the population on both sides of the Atlantic do not even think about it, while having become heavy consumers of all things digital, or see it simply as the inexorable eradication of jobs as robot technology takes hold. Leading economists are pondering the decrease in productivity gains, the polarisation of the labour force, the creation of a deflationist and stagnant economy. They wonder whether the “digital revolution” can still be considered a driving force behind a new economic revival and the source of wealth creation, in the same way that the steam engine and electricity once were.

We ourselves believe firmly that any desire to step back from digital progress is a dead end. On the contrary, we need to galvanise our country by investing more, as much in training, as in scientific culture, research and innovation, and of course interweaving digital technology and the transition to other sources of energy. But the argument, the push for inclusion – a byword at Davos this year – and solidarity mechanisms also need to be more widely developed and rethought.

Support from the World Bank and the OECD for reviving investments, especially in infrastructure, will no doubt raise a new series of questions in the coming months. For IDATE DigiWorld, the questions on our minds that pertain to our main areas of focus include:

. How much of a priority should be given to financing new generation ultrafast fixed (FTTH) and mobile (5G) networks?
. What is the logic behind telcos’ investments in content? And, more generally, why should telcos invest in diversifying their business?
. Which innovations (wearables, VR, digital assistants, connected cars…) could take over from the smartphone as key growth drivers?
. At what point can we expect to see a return on investment for the cloud, IoT, big data, etc. rollouts of the past several years in all of the major sectors? Could this “4th industrial revolution” be Europe’s chance to return to centre stage in the digital world?

Here then, in this first newsletter of the year, are some of the topics we have begun to contemplate with our Members, and which will undoubtedly be explored in detail as part of our various initiatives, our monthly DigiWorld Clubs in Brussels, London and Paris, the DigiWorld Future symposiums in the spring (18 May in Brussels, 23 May in London and 6 June in Paris), and of course the DigiWorld Summit, which will run from 14 to 16 November this year.

So 2017 is shaping up to be a year of lively and crucial debate!

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