Let’s not become the digital vassals of Gafa!

Call for Diversity in IT Supply

At a time when Europe has failed to enforce its record fine of 13 billion on Apple and when the giant has long since stopped paying a large amount of tax on the old continent, making tens of billions of sales there, we have decided to call a halt to the death of the innovative IT ecosystem in Europe by monopolising the IT supplies of European companies and institutions from a few non-European giants. 

We propose a simple commitment: “in order to enable European technological innovation and to develop true digital diversity both in terms of infrastructure and software platforms, I commit, as an organization or manager, to invest more than 50% of any new IT budget (software, service, cloud and telecom scope) for investment or operation with French and European players, at the end of current commitments and within 3 years at the latest”.

Let’s launch “The IT50+ Club” !

The club of leaders who commit:

  • to invest more than 50% of any new IT investment or operating budget with French or European players,
  • To contribute via an ETD – European Technology Development budget (similar to the ESR budget) to the creation of innovative ecosystems and business networks,
  • to retain in any call for tenders 50% of European players,
  • to produce European reference communications and enable European technological icons to communicate them.

To support this initiative, add your name here: https://www.it50plus.com/

An observation:

  • Europe is the only continent not to have ranked an IT company in the FT500 (top 500 companies worldwide in value or revenue) in the last 20 years. The only European software “giant” was and remains SAP followed by Dassault System. The latter not being classified in the FT500,
  • Twenty years ago, Europe was ahead of 3G and had several leading hardware manufacturers, this is no longer the case (we are lagging behind on 5G, research in Lannion is a shadow of its former self and our manufacturers have all but one disappeared, in a pitiful state),
  • The world’s most powerful companies form an oligopoly, the club of nearly $1 trillion in capitalization between the American GAFAM and Chinese BAHTX,
  • More than 80% of French and German companies as well as public institutions run their strategic systems on Google-Microsoft-Amazon-Oracle technologies (the recent example of Deutsche Bank is edifying in this respect); at the same time the GAFA only paid 43 million euros to the French tax authorities in 2017,
  • Kat Borlongan (director of the French Tech Mission) recently declared: “70% of scaleups in France are B2B. However, only 0.01% of the purchasing budget of large groups goes to start-ups… If we can get this number to change, then we will be able to grow our own gems. The president is vowing 25 unicorns in 2025. This shift of budgets towards startups will give agility to the major groups, an increase in transactions for startups and better chances of exit/takeover, which today are exceptional figures”,
  • Bpifrance represents the French State, investor in French Tech and gets its supplies from the GAFAM! Hard to believe but this is the truth: after a comparative study, decides to put its data at Uncle Sam’s – Amazon in this case – and to deal with a SaaS from the same uncle, via Microsoft. So why don’t we, to quote PlayFrance.digital’s mapping or David Fayon’s excellent study, choose, for example, OVH, Ionos, LWS or Amen for hosting and Talkspirit, Jamespot or Jalios as an enterprise social network?
  • GAFAs spent $55 million on lobbying in 2018, doubling their combined spending of $27.4 million in 2016. 238 people were mobilized to lobby for the four companies in the first three months of 2019. 75% of these people have already served in government or in U.S. political campaigns,
  • Para-public bodies in the EU member states are poorly coordinated on the digital issue. BPI France and its European counterparts, for example.

Taking awareness of the ecosystem

Emmanuel Levy, deputy editor-in-chief of the weekly Marianne, comments in July 2019 on his new edition entitled “How our elites are handing over the state to the GAFAM”.

“A large proportion of digital tenders are won by GAFAM. Our schools get their supplies from Apple, Microsoft or Cisco, Bercy chooses IBM and our army opens its doors to Microsoft, the GDIS at Palentir who hires Polytechnique’s valedictorian”. He continued: “John Chambers comes to do his shopping in French schools. He’s become a fan of Frenchtech!”

Tariq Krim comments at the same time: “How France sold itself to GAFAM” and more recently: “Another digital is possible for France”. The G9+ Institute is launching a major Franco-German consultation on Make.org entitled “How to bring out the champions of European digital”. The European Champions Alliance is being launched in the wake of this consultation, which aims to bring the European technology ecosystem closer together, accelerate growth in high-potential European companies and enable European buyers to identify the best applicable European technology solutions.

One year later, Frans Imbert-Vier denounced in Forbes the abandonment of French political free will in the face of the digital challenges.

Bpifrance represents the State, investor in French Tech and consumes a “BIG” budget in its comm on the subject (why not besides). And yet, Bpifrance gets its supplies from the GAFAM! Hard to believe but it’s the truth. When a French Tech company, at the end of a long, fine and rigorous comparative study, decides to put its data at Uncle Sam’s – Amazon in this case – and to treat them with a SaaS from the same uncle, via Microsoft, our fate is sealed. Why not, to use the PlayFrance.digital mapping or David Fayon’s excellent study, choose for example OVH, Ionos, LWS or Amen for hosting and Talkspirit, Jamespot or Jalios for the corporate social network? So what are the features that would not allow Bpifrance to work on European solutions? Reasons so specific to Bpifrance that banks and institutions that are customers of the above-mentioned European solutions and many others would be mistaken or idle?

There are more and more of us who no longer want to let this type of argument slip through in institutions financed by the taxpayer.

French innovators are not just good at poking around in Bpifrance’s “energizing” “BIG” meetings, putting it on stage a lot. French and European innovators can and must also gather orders, references and in this matter every customer counts. What did the excellent Amazon do after winning Bpifrance? Promoting this reference to all the other European institutions. And the reference is profitable. In economy, the return on scale and the umbrella of marginal costs are ruthless. It is not Amazon and its e-commerce activity with almost free delivery that will say otherwise.

So, yes, we need to install an entrepreneurial mindset and probably also a mindset at the head of these institutions. Make it understood that building an ecosystem can only be done on a solid local technological foundation in both infrastructure and software.

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