Business

Cruising towards digitalization in the Loire Valley region

August 02, 2021 by Mark Davis

It’s becoming ever harder to run, develop and grow a business without becoming, to some extent, digitalized. Yet there are still a good number of companies in France that haven’t yet taken that leap.

A national Opinion Way study in April 2021 revealed a significant regional disparity when it comes to digitalization.

In the Loire Valley, the figures are encouraging and highlight a will among business owners to join the digital revolution.

Here, we’ll look at the data, the tools and the local initiatives put in place in the region.

 

Still too shy to digitalize

Some 44% of business owners in the Loire Valley claim to lead a digitalized company. Only 10% believe the Covid crisis has accelerated their digital transformation. They are underwhelming figures. Inadequate, even. So, can we conclude that this land of rivers and fine chateaux is swimming against the digital current? Not so fast!

Digitalization remains an important objective for 46% of business owners. Even if three in four of them put increasing turnover before anything else, and 70% also believe the day-to-day management of their company is more of a priority, it’s worth remembering that digital tools are a means of achieving these goals.

There are many companies in the region that are well aware of this. There are currently numerous regional initiatives in place to evangelize digital solutions and make companies aware of the need to bring them on board.

Regional projects to encourage digitalization

Where Loire Valley businesses are taking the initiative

Some companies have made it their mission to help and guide local entrepreneurs in their transition towards digitalization.

That’s the case for Dashdoc in Nantes, which has developed a digitized transport management platform for shippers, carriers and truckers to run their orders in the road freight transport industry. It’s a sector where paperwork (billing, expedition and follow-up) can often be arduous and time-consuming.

“In concrete terms, the shippers and carriers that we partner with go from a laborious process of tracking dispatches via Excel spreadsheets, emails and paper to one single platform that deals with everything. They no longer need to spend their Saturday afternoons filling out paperwork, in particular invoices. This changes the game.”

Benoït Joncquez, founder of Dashdoc

It’s a similar vision shared by Easilys, a company based in Roche-sur-Yon. Their domain is catering and it’s a world where companies – in this case, restaurants - are often slow to embrace digitalization.

Easilys provides software solutions that allow restaurant owners to manage and optimize their orders and stock. With a streamlined back office, they enjoy a greater visibility over their spending, margins and profitability.

While these solutions are indeed helpful, they do come at a cost. Unfortunately for many companies, digitalization is an aspiration that remains unaffordable.

Aid from the Loire Valley region

The Loire Valley regional authorities understand this problem and to remedy it, they are providing assistance to small companies to help them digitalize, notably financial support with acquiring digital tools (installation fees and software subscriptions, training costs etc.)

When it comes to who’s eligible, the conditions are deliberately broad:

  • the company must have fewer than 50 employees;
  • it must have been active for over two years;
  • it must be in the Loire Valley region;
  • its annual turnover must not exceed 10 million euros;
  • it must be able to prove that the investment satisfies a strategic objective
  • it must not be in the non-commercial, public/parapublic or e-commerce sectors.

In other words, this assistance is open to most small companies in the region as long as they are more than two years old and are commercial ventures. And the amounts on offer are not negligeable: they can reach up to €15,000, which represents a genuine boost for small companies.  

 

Loire Valley businesses do appear to be going with the flow of digitalization thanks to help from both the public and private sector. Another example of this is the Go Entrepreneurs Nantes salon on November 25 this year, dedicated to digital and designed to put a little wind in the sails of local businesses. 

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