25 Mar Perspectives: What is your vision for European Tech in 2021? #6
I had the privilege to interview Julien Van Hoeylandt CEO at MEXS, Member of the ECA and co-founder of the Franco-German digital club, we discussed the issues of European tech in 2021. I recommend you sincerely to read his interesting perspective.
Emma Neige – Strategic Partnerships and Communication at the ECA
What is your vision for European tech in 2021?
We are living in a new era where European tech can thrive, especially with the rising sovereignty issues in Europe that address a number of questions on data management for example, or European companies systematically going to the US or China to develop. Although the competition is tough, European Tech will be able to get the best out of the game with new European sovereignty. Through new budgets, industries will increase their digitization process. Thus it is not a change of paradigm but more of a realization of projects that used to be exclusively political.
To what extent does Europe stand out in this field compared to its competitors?
“Competitor” is not necessarily the right word, Europe can be complementary. It is the strategy of the Blue Ocean compared to the Red Ocean by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. The red ocean is a competitive market. Companies need to go beyond competing, to seize new profit and growth opportunities, creating blue oceans.
This idea transcribes to the European market in its linguistic and cultural specificities, where issues are both national and European.
The particular feature of these diverse micro-markets is that they cannot be associated with the United States of America. The European culture does not accept the same approach. In addition, compared to the East-Asian market, digitization is very different in general. In Europe, the individual in relation to digital comes first, being European allows us to understand the user’s behaviors in a larger sense.
With the fastly growing digitization in 2020 due to the confinement policies, do you think European companies are jumping on the occasion?
Since the beginning of the crisis, we witnessed the various approaches of online work according to the countries. Industrial companies showed a real willingness to go the distance to digitize. The Chief Digital Officer position used to be considered a superficial marketing job especially in industrial medium-sized businesses, but now we are moving far from these considerations. Although we can ask ourselves if digitization is a willingness or a constraint? Since companies have to transition to it. German behavior appeared to be much more pragmatic, they underwent and organized. Whereas French companies underwent and precipitated into the digitization process. Will we feel the difference in the final results in Europe?
Estonia is a very good example, in terms of digitization. They have pushed the digital field to a huge capacity, but in the background on the European political scene, can they have an influence on Europe?
Who are, according to you, the main actors in European tech? Is there a collaboration between them?
VCs, organizations, start-ups, corporates, individuals? There is a multiplicity of actors in European Tech. I’m afraid that start-up classifications develop a closed-community, the way we celebrate start-up might not be very sane. In the service and the industrial sector, we can see wonderful things happening: human management, different labor laws… The service sector for example is going to be disrupted by European tech and not by uberisation.
Do your predictions lean towards an acceleration of this collaboration?
Regarding collaboration in European Tech, speaking as the co-founder of the French-German digital club and as a Frenchmen specialized in the German market, the interrogations, approaches, and fears are often the same. We have respective champions that go to one another but the process is still very slow. There is a feeling of unconsciousness that there is no need for Europe to copy the USA. The market is very different and diverse in Europe and we need to adapt to it, once we understand all this Europe will be able to leave its mark.
Nevertheless, we are witnessing an evolution with European countries, collaborating more and more to open up the ecosystem and get to a pan-European tech market: why should we limit ourselves to a national market?