The last 25 years have seen momentous technological progress: the PC, the Internet, Smartphones, Tablets… This has transformed the way companies do business, the way managers work, the way consumers go about their daily lives. And, McKinsey expects that, by 2025, technological disruptions may create up to $40 trillion in new growth.
One would expect that technological progress would be celebrated. This has indeed been the case in companies, NGOs, governments. But, there seems to be one kind of organization that has only seen minor change in the way it goes about conducting its business. And, this is surprising given that this institution is the temple of knowledge.
I/ Gilles’ bio
« How to bring digital innovation to university life ? » This is a question that has been on Gilles’ mind for the last several years. Gilles brings his experience in leading digital transformation in banks, including Citibank, HSBC, Crédit Agricole, Caixa, Intesa. He has also spearheaded digital transformation in Telecom and entertainment companies, such as Orange, Time Warner, Disneyland and TF1. Having worked in the US, both as a consultant (Accenture and Roland Berger) and as a Senior Leader, Gilles understands both strategic issues and is able to oversee implementation.
II/ French universities are facing multiple challenges
Indeed, universities and university life have not incorporated technological and digital innovations as fast as leading corporations, according to a survey conducted by Commissariat Général à la Stratégie et à la Prospective – Laurent Gilles et Jacques F. Marchandise.
This has brought Gilles to think about how universities could benefit from digital innovations.
Today, French universities are competing globally to attract the best students, the best professors and achieve the highest ranking. However, while the French invest massively in education, the ranking of their universities is surprisingly low. And, it is reported that when they were informed of their ranking in 2003, it created a shockwave that rippled throughout the country.
III/ French universities are regrouping
Therefore, President Sarkozy, former President of France, asked the minister of education, to revamp the French higher education. Valerie Pécresse encouraged universities to pool all their resources together in order to get increased international recognition. This reform has been supported and confirmed by the new French government and François Hollande, the new French President. This resulted in the creation of eight supra-universities, also known IDEX, which combine various higher education institutions.
They are the following:
- IPS, IDEX Paris-Saclay (X, HEC, Telecom, Optique, ENSAE, ENSTA, Agro, Centrale/Supelec, Université d’Orsay, …)
- PSL *, Paris Sciences Lettres Star, the Research University on the move,
(Ulm, Dauphine, Collège de France, Curie, Mines, Ponts, Henri IV, Observatoire, Beaux-Arts, Arts Déco, Conservatoires Nationaux, …)
- USPC, Université Sorbonne Paris Cité (Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris III, Descartes Paris V, Diderot Paris VII et Paris XIII, …)
- SUPER, Sorbonne Universités (Assas Paris II, Pierre et Marie Curie Paris VI, Sorbonne Paris IV, INSEAD, Compiègne UTC, …)
- AMIDEX, Aix Marseille IDEX
- Université de Bordeaux IDEX
- UNITI, Université de Toulouse IDEX
- UNISTRA, Université de Strasbourg
IV/ French universities are on the move… and reforming
And, in addition to encouraging French universities to pull their resources together, the minister also suggested that they redefine their goals.
She prescribed five different goals for French universities including:
- More efficient Research
- Increased multi-disciplinary training and learning
- Improved relationships and transfers with businesses
- Greater societal involvement and impact
- More open to international students
In our following conversation, Gilles and I discussed how digital transformation can change universities.
- For a great discussion on the challenges awaiting universities, please refer to Clayton Christensen’s Innovative University
- For glance at the Shanghai ranking, please refer here
- For a glimpse on the debates that rose in France when the Shanghai ranking was published, please refer here
- For a look on the semi-conductor business, check out this link.