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Computer science and engineering, French passions

Computer science and engineering, French passions

Few French economic sectors can boast of having two global players like Capgemini and Atos – despite the difficulties of the latter –, moreover in a technological universe dominated by the Americans. The two digital services companies (ESN) are the only ones based in Europe to appear in the world top 20, alongside American, Indian and Japanese companies. Neither Germany nor the United Kingdom have been able to create players of international dimension.

“Thanks to the exceptional personalities of Serge Kampf and Bernard Bourigeaud, the founding fathers of Capgemini and Atos, and other leaders, such as Pierre Pasquier at Sopra Steria, IT has become a French specialty”, underlines Jean-François Perret, of Pierre Audoin Consultants, a consulting firm founded in the mid-1970s which followed the growth of these companies. Capgemini, Atos and Sopra Steria have thrived on the outsourcing of IT services for large banks, as well as on the occasional need for IT specialists for fixed-term missions.

The three companies have brought a multitude of smaller players behind them, making France a country of IT specialists. Digital services represent 42 billion euros in turnover, including 34 billion for IT services and 8 billion for technology consulting engineering (ICT), a major French specialty.

” World Champion “

With groups like Altran (purchased in 2020 by Capgemini), Alten, Akka (taken over by the Adecco group in 2022), Assystem, Ausy (passed under the control of Randstad in 2016), “France is one of the world champions in engineering. He There is a real culture that is exported internationally”explains Charles Mauclair, president of the ESN and ICT college of Numeum, the professional organization of the sector.

Manufacturers like EDF, Peugeot, Renault and Airbus very quickly subcontracted part of their engineering where their German counterparts had long internalized these professions. Industry represents a third of the activity of digital services companies in France, ahead of banking (15.2%) and services (14.9%). A trend which should be reinforced by the ongoing reindustrialization.

This development makes the sector less sensitive to macroeconomic cycles. “Until around ten years ago, it perfectly followed the growth of the French economy.resumes Mr. Mauclair. Since then, we have seen a shift in favor of IT services, which reflects the rise of digital issues in businesses. In the past, IT budgets were often among the first to be frozen when there were budget cuts. Today, these decisions are rarer, because cutting, even temporarily, your IT investments is dangerous for your future activity and your profitability. » In 2023, according to the latest Numeum survey, 62% of IT directors said they planned an increased budget for 2024.

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Mattie B. Jiménez

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