Digital transformation is a multi-dimensional process, a vector of innovation and feeds productivity gains. The degree to which French businesses have digitalised is comparable to the rest of Europe. As abroad, SMEs and a fortiori VSEs lag behind large companies in terms of digitisation. The health crisis has shown that digital technology contributes to the resilience of the economy by allowing flexible organisational modes and distance selling.
Digital technology transforms economies: it changes how businesses and consumers interact, how businesses interact with each other, and how they organise their production processes. Digital transition is a multidimensional process, a driver of innovation and a source of productivity gains.
The degree to which French businesses have digitalised is comparable to the rest of Europe, in terms of both mature technology (enterprise resource planning systems, automated invoice processing) and emerging technology (cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence). In terms of robotics, the degree of automation in France's economy is notably consistent with its sectoral structure and labour force.
In France and the rest of Europe, SMEs (and, not surprisingly, VSEs) are late adopters compared to large enterprises. The digital divide is observed across all areas of technology: SMEs and VSEs are less likely to have a high-speed or ultra-high-speed internet connection and are less likely to use management software, e-commerce, cloud computing and data analysis.
The pandemic has shown how digital technology can contribute to greater economic resilience by allowing work to be organised more flexibly and goods to be sold remotely. A government initiative to digitalise the business sector should prioritise firms that have the most limiting financial constraints and that lack access to information on the benefits of digital technology. Any such initiative should also include infrastructure support (ultra-high-speed internet, 5G) and a coherent set of policies to encourage digital development (support for research, training, cybersecurity, etc.). This is why digitalisation features prominently in the priority measures of the recovery plan.