In competition with Silicon Valley, can Europe become the leader of the digital revolution? This question among others will be at the heart of the round table discussions that will take place during the 10th Grenoble Geopolitics Festival (March 14 - 17). In partnership with Grenoble Ecole de Management, the Mazars Group is also exploring the issue of American dominance over the past century.
We speak with Cédric Haaser, an associate at Mazars and the group's innovation sponsor.
What is your analysis of the global market in terms of digital technology?
It’s obvious that Europe has fallen behind. However, there are promising indicators for the future: First, the European digital world has decided to act, in particular in France, where the environment is favorable to digital development. Emmanuel Macron’s policies encourage the creation of IT companies and provide various levels of support, in particular in the form of tax credits designed to attract major corporations.
This development is also supported by the training of high level French engineers. Many of them have left for the U.S. and Silicon Valley in order to launch entrepreneurial projects. But today we see that the entrepreneurial spirit is also accelerating in Europe, which is a very positive sign!
The other interesting indicator is the development of artificial intelligence (AI), which is a very promising sector in France. The government has given the green light to further develop AI. Workgroups will unite participants from universities, research centers, startups and major corporations. The goal is to identify our strong points and focus energy on them. It’s also about identifying relevant niches that can create added value.
Over the past five years, we have also seen concrete developments in terms of facilitating access to funding for innovative companies. The French Tech initiative is an excellent example of this evolution. One of the best examples of our ability to lead in terms of technology has been the European launch of Galileo (GPS system) by the European Space Agency. Futur buyers of this satellite positioning system are voicing their trust in European governance even though this sector is in direct competition with the U.S. GPS. This is a healthy and encouraging sign!
What are the concrete aspects of the digital revolution in your field of activity?
We are dealing with two essential themes: the simplification and automatisation of audit, accounting and tax processes. These innovative technologies are now widely accessible and can be implemented quickly. In terms of law, the advent of AI technology is crucial in order to analyze and create contracts through computer assisted processes. And most of all, one of our key challenges is to provide clients with a means to understand their data and think analytically.
Our role is to extract the best information thanks to data analytics in order to better understand performance, costs, margin, and faulty processes. The goal is to facilitate understanding and provide strategic advice about what works and what doesn’t work for a company.
The digital and IT revolutions are now important subjects of interest for many companies, both small and large...
Yes, definitely. The Mazars Group was quick to think of the digital revolution as an opportunity. Our goal is to facilitate this transition and support the transformations of our clients. In response to the GAFA of auditing, Mazars (1.5 billion euros in turnover in 2017 versus 500 million euros in 2005) is not aiming to be defensive. Instead the goal is to encourage change, help clients move forward and facilitate their development.
The Mazars Group is a GEM partner for the 10th Geopolitics Festival and will be participating in debates related to the global digital world. Why the interest in this topic?
While originally founded in France, the Mazars Group counts 20,000 employees and associates in 86 countries. All of our employees and associates share the same values and the financial results of each entity are pooled together. Among our share values, digital technology is at the top of the list. At Mazars, digital tech is a key part of developing skills. Resources and know-how from various countries, in particular in Europe, are providing added value on this topic and it has become central to our strategic ambitions.
Will the U.S. dominate the 21st century?
What will be the role of the U.S. in the 21st century? From March 14 to 17, 2018, the 10th edition of the Grenoble Geopolitics Festival will explore the issue of global American leadership.
This leadership is coming under fire and evolutions are taking place, in particular with the growing strength of Asia and an emerging "America First" protectionist streak in the U.S. 100 conferences, round tables, debates and documentaries will provide participants with an opportunity to listen to and interact with experts in geopolitics and international relations, professors, researchers, economic players, journalists and U.S. experts. All will debate this issue through a variety of angles such as: Can Europe lead the digital revolution? What is the influence of the American model of management? Why is Grenoble attractive to U.S. companies, researchers and students?
The event is free and open to all, however registration is required. Events will take place at Grenoble Ecole de Management, Sciences Po Grenoble, Librairie Decitre, Café des Arts and Maison de l'International.
Already the 10th edition of the Grenoble Geopolitics Festival!
Since its creation, the festival has focused on various global geopolitics issues as well as specific challenges in a country or region. Overtime, the debates have explored deep societal questions. The festival is open to all and attracts people in person and online thanks to live video feeds of the conferences. With 500 participants in 2009, the festival grew to welcome 12,800 participants in 2017. Following this 10th edition, the festival will take on a new direction:
“After 10 years of continuous growth, the Grenoble Geopolitics Festival has become a recognized European event that is well-known and appreciated. We fulfilled our initial goal of creating a meeting ground for anyone interested in international issues, an event that welcomes the general public as well as experts from all horizons. Today, we feel the need to mobilize other actors as well, in particular public authorities, economic leaders and political actors. The mission of Grenoble Ecole de Management is to prepare the future. As a result, we wish to move away from theory and provide the festival with a perspective that offers greater concrete understanding and debate on societal issues,” explains Jean-Marc Huissoud, director of the Grenoble Geopolitics Festival.