Reindustrializing France: Challenges of the Digital and Environmental Transformation Études de l’Ifri, September 2022
To succeed in the challenge of reindustrializing France, French and European companies must undertake a dual process of digital and environmental transformation, in a context of international competition.
The French industry has been weakened by several decades of de-industrialization, marked in particular by under-investment in the modernization of production sites. Faced with the ambition to reindustrialize the country, French companies, like those of their European neighbors, must undertake a process of transformation to succeed in this challenge in a context of international competition.
Reindustrializing requires improving productivity and adapting to changes in demand. In this regard, several factors call for a rethinking of production processes, including the emergence of an economy based on functional adaptation and service, the movement towards mass customization, and new requirements in the organization of value chains. From there, two aspects in particular will play a pivotal role in the reindustrialization process: digital and environmental transformation.
The development of digital and new technologies in factories is key. Echoing political programs for the « industry of the future », this transformation supposes, concretely, to adopt certain technologies and gather and use data, as both are levers of industrial performance and response to demand. There are still numerous obstacles to digital transformation in France, therefore it is necessary to raise awareness and show why initiating this change is relevant for the industry.
The second transformation involves taking into account environmental considerations, which become central to the business development model. To respect the Paris agreements, it is necessary that everyone commits to the decarbonization effort, but not only: this issue requires a systemic approach and must have a broader scope. The preservation of biodiversity, the management of water resources, the choice of materials or the design of products are central subjects that are still too little explored. This necessary adaptation is thus also a significant opportunity in terms of innovation.
The digital and environmental transformations of the industry must be carried out in parallel and respond to each other. This double transformation forces us to think jointly about environmental and industrial policies so as not to define contradictory policies.
This publication is available in French : Réindustrialiser la France : les défis de la transformation numérique et environnementale.