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The Impact of AWS
in France

Powering France’s fastest-growing companies

Executive Summary

AWS is accelerating the growth of France

First pioneered with the invention of AWS in 2006, cloud computing has proved to be more cost efficient, flexible, sustainable and secure than traditional computing. In order to better understand the impact of cloud computing on the French economy, Amazon Web Services (AWS), a leading provider of cloud technology and tools, commissioned Public First to undertake new quantitative research on the use and benefits created by its services across France. We ran a nationally representative survey of 1005 businesses as well as an additional 495 cloud users between the 5th and 20th of January 2021.

In 2020, cloud computing proved more important than ever - helped the world adapt and avoid even more economic damage from the pandemic. The majority (52%) of French companies agree that the use of cloud platforms has made it possible for their business to keep operating through the pandemic.

  • In total in 2020, we estimate that AWS is generating €1.6 billion in economic value by reducing costs and increasing revenues for an estimated  130,000 businesses across France, supporting the equivalent of 22,000 jobs.  
  • 61% of AWS-using businesses say that their business or operating model would not be possible without the cloud.

Cloud tools have helped keep workers productive throughout 2020

As a result of the pandemic, 2020 saw a mass shift towards remote working in a matter of days .  Without cloud computing, this rapid switch would have been impossible.  14 of the world’s 25 largest software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies run on AWS, including Zoom and Slack - relying on its scale and reliability to meet the surge in demand in 2020.

  • 64% of businesses say that online tools have made it easier for workers to collaborate throughout the pandemic
  • As result of the pandemic, businesses have started using or are using more extensively an average of 5 new online tools, from video chat to project management software.

AWS is saving businesses money and earning them extra revenue

The flexibility provided by the cloud makes it much easier for companies to match their IT supply to their exact needs. It means that companies can flex their capacity from day to day - or even hour to hour - making it possible to ramp up to meet the demand of a seasonal rush, or adapt rapidly to changing circumstances. The importance of AWS stands out in particular when looking at its ability to reduce costs in times of lower activity or during the development of a company’s activities.

  • 84% of AWS-using small businesses say that the use of cloud has made it easier to flex their IT (Information Technology) to meet their business needs, helping save costs by ensuring they only pay for computing power that they are using.
  • On average, AWS customers receive a return of 10% for every €1 they spend on AWS from higher revenue and reduced costs. In this research, we also noted that the top 10% of customers with the highest return on investment achieve a return of over 600% for every €1 they spend on average.

AWS is helping businesses of all sizes grow and innovate

By giving small companies access to the economies of scale that were once reserved for large enterprises, the cloud has enabled completely new business models for start-ups as well as SMEs. 54% of AWS users said that the cloud had enabled them to be far more agile with what they offer and 40% said that it had enabled them to offer new kinds of products. For SMEs, the cloud enables them to develop new projects and services, whilst for start-ups, it allows them to launch their business and grow their ideas. AWS acts as a lever for French businesses experiencing exponential growth.

  • Eight of France’s ten unicorns, ⅔ of the Next40 and over 80% of the CAC 40  are running on AWS.
  • Companies that are using the cloud are 50% more likely to be growing over 5% a year than those who are  not.

AWS is improving sustainability

Using the cloud not only saves companies money, but reduces energy usage and improves the sustainability of computing.

  • AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median in the data centre industry.

AWS is keeping data secure and private

Building on AWS makes it easier for companies to build on best in class digital security, while maintaining control of where their data is stored. Every user retains ownership over their data content.

  • 79% of AWS users are confident that the cloud is helping them ensure digital security and protect them from external hacking

 In 2017, AWS launched a new region in Paris, supporting businesses that needed their data to remain within France.

AWS is helping businesses create new solutions for the public sector

Building on the platform that the cloud provides makes it much easier for a wider range of suppliers to provide for the public sector, reducing costs and unlocking new models of service delivery.

  • 67% of companies using AWS to sell into the public sector said that their business or operating model would not be possible without cloud platforms.
  • 77% of companies using AWS and selling into the public sector said that the use of the cloud made it easier for their business to innovate and bring new products to market.

The cloud can help keep the recovery going

The level of cloud uptake in France remains significantly behind many other advanced economies, and is very unevenly distributed across the country. Helping reverse this could unlock significant growth.

  • If France could match the level of per capita cloud spending of the UK, it would increase the size of the economy by €16 billion
  • If we could boost the cloud prevalence of the Normandie to match that of Île-de-France, it would boost local productivity by €400 million per year.
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Foreword - Professor Christian Saint-Étienne

The use of cloud computing in Europe is an important and highly discussed subject in our country. It appears essential for us to better understand its benefits for organisations and for France, but also to better understand the strategic challenges from using a new technology. In recent months, we have seen some countries organise themselves to define a framework for its use, which respects the European laws in force and takes advantage of new technology to stimulate their growth. Other countries, however, have been low to take a position, increasing the risk of creating a two-speed Europe.

In the European Union of 27 (EU27), 36% of companies used one or more cloud services in 2020. The usage rate is 26% in Spain, 27% in France, 33% in Germany, 59% in Italy, 70% in Sweden and 75% in Finland (Source: Eurostat, Cloud computing, January 2021). Among the 27% of French companies that use the cloud, the main uses which are higher than the European averages are 76% for the storage of files (67% in EU27), 63% for hosting the enterprise’s database(s) (47% in EU27) and 36% for CRM applications (27% in EU27). Of these three uses, the levels of use by German companies using the cloud are lower than the European average. In other words, the 27% of French companies that use the cloud use it more for advanced functions than the 33% of German companies that use the cloud.

AWS pioneered the cloud in 2006 and is the world's leading public cloud operator (IaaS and PaaS) with a market share of 40% versus 20% for Microsoft Azure and 10% for Google Cloud (Source: Synergy Research Group). The cloud is an environment where global presence and the ability to industrialise large-scale processing operations are massive competitive advantages. In France, the cloud services market is worth roughly 15 billion euros and is growing by more than 20% per year. However, according to Gartner, globally, 4% of information systems are in the cloud and 96% on internal business systems. The switch to the cloud is just beginning.

The Public First survey aims to quantify the uses and benefits of the cloud in general, and AWS cloud services in particular in France. The study reveals that companies that use cloud services are growing faster than others, although we should make sure not confuse causation and correlation: is it the companies that use the cloud that grow faster or are the fastest growing companies that choose to use the cloud? But whether there is causation or correlation, the cloud is a good indicator of dynamism. Companies that make best use of the possibilities of the cloud can derive revenue growth six times greater than the cost of the investment.

In France, the study shows that a catch-up is needed: the use of the cloud is still too limited there due to the insufficient digitization of VSEs and SMEs in particular. The State must help both accelerate their digitalisation and their use of the cloud, for example through targeted aid. Now is the time to act so that these companies can withstand economic pressure and become more productive.

Beyond agility and performance, companies that have already switched to the cloud are also doing so for security reasons. This is an essential topic for French organisations and for 79% of users of AWS services: the cybersecurity of their systems has improved. The major vendors are not only able to restore backups that can be made in duplicate or triplicate depending on the level of service required by the customer, but also to reduce the attack surface on the data by the layers of protection that they set up on their systems. No system is foolproof, but one of the keys to resilience comes from the capacity and speed of system recovery. Companies declare having an improved approach to security through the cloud.

Today, it is impossible not to mention a subject that monopolises discussions in France when it comes to cloud computing: sovereignty. This is a key but often ill-defined issue. A distinction must be made between the ability to regulate the storage, use and processing of data on the one hand, from strategic autonomy in the availability of systems and the location of data storage. The questions are essential and the framework to be defined is important. But France must not fight the wrong battle. To ensure its strategic autonomy without falling behind other European countries in terms of competitiveness, France must be able to work with global players and set up a framework that will promote innovation. The country must open up to new economic opportunities while ensuring the performance, security and protection of its businesses, public organizations and citizens.

One avenue to explore could be that of encryption tools, an area in which France should invest in, and seek become a world leader. Today, some French companies wish to have the possibility of setting up a double encryption system on their most sensitive content and to collaborate with a local company in this process. We need to be able to offer them this opportunity to encourage them to use the cloud and break down any barriers they may have to keep our economy strong.

The value offered by the cloud for the country is too great not to move forward. Wanting to do everything alone, with ten years of delay and ten times less power than what is already possible by relying on existing players, would be taking the risk of not succeeding in modernizing our industries and our economy.

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What is the cloud?

In 2020, the world had to adapt. Millions of businesses were forced to switch to remote working, to switch in-person meetings to video chat, and to expand their use of online delivery and sales. Changes that many were expecting to take place years - and that policy makers have been trying to accelerate for a decade - were compressed into a matter of weeks.

This kind of flexibility would not have been possible with the computing model of twenty years ago. In the past, data and software were often siloed, and tied to a specific desktop computer. Start-ups would have struggled to scale up to meet an explosion in demand for video or text messaging. Enterprises would have also had to invest in the midst of a crisis to keep their own internal networks going, which many small businesses would have been able to, forcing them to shut down.

Cloud computing makes it possible to treat computing as a service: scaling it up or down to meet exactly your needs, enjoying access wherever you need it, and keeping up to date with the latest technologies. It was this agility that made it possible for much of the economy to switch courses.

Ever since the beginning of the modern industrial era, most businesses have not needed to buy their own power or water treatment plant. Instead, they purchase resources from much larger networks run by dedicated infrastructure providers. In the same way, moving from on-premises computing to the cloud can help businesses take advantage of on-demand services and far greater economies of scale, without needing to build their own expensive server farms.

By the early 2000s, the largest enterprises were enjoying the advantages that came from running their own servers and online tools. There was no easy way, however, for smaller companies to share the same advantages, without costly investment in their own infrastructure.

AWS changed this. In 2006, Amazon launched the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) allowing companies to store information for anything in the cloud. S3 was soon followed by Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), which enabled companies to rent virtual computers in the cloud to run their programs and build applications. While the ideas behind the cloud had been theorised by technologists for decades, this was the first time that they were implemented at scale. Today, there are over 200 different services offered by AWS.

At the heart of AWS was a vision that computing services could be built around standardised, scalable and modular components. For Amazon itself, the belief was that this would make it much easier for the company to retain the agility and innovation of a start-up. Rather than needing to coordinate and build afresh for each new initiative, any engineer could build off the standardised tools and systems that had been created.

Once this had been done, however, there was no reason why the same systems could not be opened up to other companies too. By the end of 2010, Amazon’s main website was fully migrated to AWS.

In the past, large companies have often been seen as efficient but slow moving, while small companies were agile but had to build everything afresh. The cloud eliminates many of these differences, making it possible for large enterprises to retain the flexibility of a start-up, and start-ups in turn to utilise the same computing power and high levels of security as the world’s largest technology companies. For the first time, anybody could start a business running on the latest technology - without having to invest potentially millions up front in IT. It means companies of all sizes can rapidly adapt when the unexpected can happen - and keep operating even during a year as hard as 2020.

Key Benefits of Cloud

Capacity. The cloud enables on-demand IT resources for companies to collect, store and analyse data from millions of devices. This has, in turn, made it easier for businesses to train computer algorithms, bringing about today’s era of big datasets, allowing much smarter machine learning (ML) solutions.
Scale. By building on the infrastructure that providers like AWS already have in place, start-ups can scale frictionlessly from serving zero to millions without having to continually update and reconfigure their computing setup, or build new data centres across the world to serve a global audience.
Agility. With the ability to add new resources in minutes, businesses can experiment and develop new products and solutions much faster.
Flexibility. Businesses no longer need to guess the level of computing resources needed. By using the power and existing infrastructure of a large cloud provider, it’s possible to scale up IT resources in a few clicks in order to meet peak demand, and then scale back down once the peak has passed.
Cost. Businesses no longer have to invest in excess computer hardware and now have the option to only use the exact capacity required for their needs, allowing them to make considerable savings.
Environment. As well as the financial benefits, cloud computing is also on average significantly more energy efficient than traditional computing, helping businesses reduce the carbon footprint of their information system.
Security. Instead of relying on individual users or businesses to remember to install the latest software updates or security patches, the majority of cloud software - by design - is always up to date. At the same time, AWS is natively conceived to satisfy the security requirements for military, global banks, and other high-sensitivity organisations.
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An increasing number of French companies are discovering the power of the cloud

Over the last decade, an increasing number of French companies have taken up cloud computing. Eurostat estimates that the proportion of French companies using the cloud has more than doubled over the last six years, from 12% in 2015 to 27% in 2020.1 Other estimates project that the public cloud market is likely to reach €7 bn in 2021, and then continue to grow at an annual growth rate of 16%.2

In our business polling, we saw a similar pattern of rapid growth:

We also saw, however, that the level of cloud uptake varied significantly with the size of the company. Just 32% of micro companies - those with less than 10 employees - used cloud computing. By contrast, over 70% of companies with more than 250 employees were on the cloud. Helping smaller companies take advantage of cloud computing is likely to be a key way we accelerate uptake in the future.

When we asked companies why they used the cloud, the most highly-rated benefits they pointed to were its scalable capacity (84%), automatic back-ups (84%), higher security (82%) and enabling improved employee collaboration (81%).

As part of our polling, we talked to many businesses that don’t currently use cloud and asked them to discuss the important barriers standing in their way. The most significant barrier appeared to be the expense (52%), but many people also pointed to the complexity / difficulty in making transition (37%).

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Cloud tools have helped keep workers productive throughout 2020

During 2020, Insee estimates that the proportion of people working from home more than doubled compared to the year before, with around half the workforce working remotely during lockdown (49%).3

In our business poll, we similarly saw that remote working had become a norm in 2020 - and was likely to continue to be a popular way of working:

Making this shift possible was the growing number of online tools that we have all increasingly turned to. On average, in our polling, businesses said they have started using or are using more extensively an average of 5 new online tools, from video chat to project management software - and expect to continue using the majority of these, even after the pandemic is over.

Many companies providing software-as-service (SaaS) rely on the AWS Cloud. 14 of the world’s 25 largest (SaaS) companies use AWS, including Zoom, Slack and Salesforce. By building on top of larger platforms such as AWS, they can take advantage of AWS’s scale and technology - and seamlessly adapt to growing demand. Over the course of 2020, the number of daily meeting participants on Zoom increased from around 10 million to over 300 million. 4

Companies also agreed that these online tools had made a significant difference to keeping their business going:

Online tools do not just help a company adapt to remote working - but in general, can help companies be more agile, innovative and fast moving. 

In our polling, we found a clear association between business growth and the number of online tools each business used - the more tools you used, the faster you were likely to have grown:

  • 26% of businesses that do not use online or cloud tools reported that their revenue had grown in the last three years.
  • By contrast, a significantly higher proportion, 45% of businesses that used 5-10 online or cloud tools reported that their revenue had grown in the last three years, with 27% saying it grew by over 5% a year.
  • 52% of businesses that used over 10 online or cloud tools reported that their revenue had grown in the last three years, with 32% saying it grew by more than 5% a year.

While cloud tools are only one driver of a growing business - and our poll cannot by itself distinguish between correlation and causation - the strength of this connection suggests that growing businesses really do find cloud tools more helpful to support their growth. When we asked directly as part of our polling, the majority of businesses agreed that cloud tools made it easier to grow.

40 %

of start-ups say that online tools or cloud services have made it easier to grow or scale their business
61 %

of fast-growing businesses say that online tools have made it easier for their business to compete with bigger businesses
51 %

of fast-growing businesses say that the costs of starting a business have reduced substantially because of online tools
37 %

of start-ups say that online tools or cloud services have made it easier to sell overseas
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AWS is saving businesses money and earning them extra revenue

The benefits of the cloud don’t just make life more convenient for software developers  - but often have a transformative effect on the wider companies and their business model. This is particularly true when companies directly use cloud platforms like AWS to provide infrastructure for their compute or data needs.

Take flexibility. The flexibility provided by cloud platforms has multiple benefits:

  • It means that small companies don’t have to sink significant amounts of capital up front in capacity that they end up not using.
  • It means that companies can rapidly flex their capacity from day to day - or even hour to hour - making it possible to ramp up to meet the demand of a seasonal rush, or one off event.
  • It means that as companies grow, they can frictionlessly and rapidly scale right across the globe, building on a worldwide infrastructure network.

 In our polling, we found:

This all adds up to real savings. On average, small business AWS customers reported saving €16,700 per year due to their investment in the cloud. While reduced costs are not the only benefit from the cloud, many users note it to be significant: 84% of small business AWS users reported saving money when using the cloud compared to using traditional on-site servers.

In addition to reducing costs, AWS and the cloud are also helping businesses earn additional income. In our business poll, 76% of AWS users estimated that the cloud was helping them earn additional revenue. Businesses with:

  • 0 to 9 employees saw an average of over €9,000 in extra revenue
  • 10 to 49 employees saw an average of over €47,000 in extra revenue
  • 50 to 249 employees saw an average of almost €40,000 in extra revenue
  • 250+ employees saw an average of €100,000 in extra revenue

When we asked companies using AWS how the cloud had helped them earn additional revenue:

45 %

said that it had enabled them to significantly increase capacity or scale
40 %

said that it had enabled them to offer new kinds of products
54 %

said that it had enabled them to be far more agile with what they offer
35 %

said that it had enabled them to access other markets internationally

When you combine both the savings and additional revenue, we found that AWS customers reported enjoying an average return on investment (ROI) of 10%. That means, for every euro they spend on AWS, they receive more than an euro back in higher profits. At the same time,the top 10% of customers reported a return significantly higher, of 600%.

By helping French companies save costs, increase revenue and invent new services, we estimate that in total AWS is creating €1.6 bn in economic growth (Gross Value Added) in France. That is the equivalent of supporting 22,000 jobs.5Extrapolating from the self-reported take-up in our representative business survey we estimate that over 130,000 companies across France are using AWS.

Other estimates of the financial benefits of cloud computing

Our estimates align well with previous studies, which generally have found that the cloud delivers significant savings for the majority of companies:

  • McKinsey (2021) estimates that the benefits of the cloud could create over $1 trillion for the global economy by 2030.6
  • Public First (2020) found in the UK that AWS customers were receiving a return of £2 for every £1 they spend on AWS, with the top 10% of customers receiving a return of £10 or more.7
  • Deloitte (2018) found that public cloud customers achieve a net return on investment of $2.5 for every $1 invested in cloud services.8
  • IDC (2018) projected that AWS customers achieve a 51% lowered cost of operations and a return on investment of 637% over five years.9
  • European Commission / Deloitte (2016) estimated that taking up cloud computing led to reduction of between 20% and 50% in total IT costs.10

The AWS Partner Network in France

The AWS Partner Network (APN) is an international programme that helps to connect clients with consulting firms or software publishers to help them design, build and manage new cloud systems. In order to support the network, AWS hosts a central listing of accredited partners for customers to choose from, based on the expertise and support needed.

In France there are hundreds of businesses registered as APN partners, distributed right across the country. While many of them remain local players working on niche issues, others have grown into significant businesses at the national and international scale.

In order to better understand the multiplier effect and value created by AWS, creating a wider ecosystem of small IT companies across France, we worked with AWS to survey 50 AWS APN partners. 

We found that:

  • AWS is helping its partners deliver positive outcomes for their clients. 78% of partners said that AWS has helped their clients innovate and solve new customer problems, and 50% that it has helped their clients be more competitive. 71% of partners agreed that the use of cloud platforms makes it easier for their clients to expand to international markets.
  • Partners choose AWS for its flexibility and the power of the platform. According to AWS APN partners, the most important reasons their clients choose to implement a cloud solution was more scalable and/or flexible capacity, improved business resilience, and lower costs. When we asked why they had chosen to work with AWS specifically, they pointed to the power and flexibility of the platform.
  • AWS is earning its partners significant additional revenue. Two-thirds of partners who responded to us said that their revenue from work with AWS had grown compared to five years before. Over half of the partners said that their business would not be possible without cloud platforms, and 22% that their business would not be possible without AWS specifically.
  • The cloud has much more to offer French businesses. A strong majority (78%) of AWS APN partners agreed that most businesses with IT infrastructure would benefit from switching to cloud and that the use of cloud platforms is increasingly important to stay competitive. When we asked what the most important barriers still standing in the way of companies adopting cloud, they pointed to a shortage of trained staff and the complexity / difficulty in making the transition,  the kind of support which AWS Partners can provide to clients.

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AWS is reducing energy usage and improving sustainability

Moving to the cloud doesn’t just save businesses money and time. It also reduces energy usage and improves the sustainability of computing. In our polling, 44% of French businesses say they are worried about the environmental impact of their in-house IT infrastructure. In total, ICT is estimated to be responsible for around 1.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. 11

On average, cloud computing is significantly more efficient than on-premises computing:

  • Due to its larger economies of scale, a cloud provider like AWS can enjoy much higher utilisation of each server compared to an on-premises enterprise data centre, which only sees, on average, utilisation rates of around 18%.
  • The use of advanced building designs and cooling systems makes data centres significantly more power-efficient than on-premises servers, given that three-quarters of enterprise data centres see electrical efficiency of below 80%.
  • Data centres are more likely to use less carbon-intensive sources of power, resulting in lower carbon emissions. Amazon is committed to powering its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025 as part of its goal to reach net-zero carbon by 2040. In 2020, it became the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy.12

In recent years, the shift from on-premises data centres to the more energy-efficient cloud has helped offset most of the increase in demand for digital services. 65% of businesses say using cloud platforms makes it easier to reduce the environmental impact of their computing.

While the total amount of computing output increased six times over globally between 2010 and 2018, academic research suggests that overall energy consumption from computing has increased by 6%.13

On average, research firm 451 Research estimates that AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy efficient than the median for data centres in the US.14

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AWS is keeping data secure and private

Keeping data safe is an increasing priority for businesses of all sizes. As more services become digitised, the attack surface available to criminals grows. Independent estimates  find that the average cost of a data breach can reach over €3 mn,15 while the total cost of cybercrime has grown to over $1 trillion globally.16

Many ransomware attacks today are opportunistic in nature, indiscriminately finding and exploiting any vulnerabilities that they can identify. Other attacks are more targeted - with government, education and healthcare systems often seen as particularly vulnerable due to a combination of legacy IT systems, bad security practices and an intolerance for downtime. In 2021, the recent attacks on hospitals, first against the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, then against the Dax hospital and again against the Villefranche-sur-Saône, Tarare and Trévoux hospitals have shown the growing risk.

In our polling, we saw that many organisations of all different sizes had suffered from cybercrime:

By building on top of the cloud, companies can ensure that they take advantage of built in security features including:

  • Fine grained controls of where data is stored, how it is encrypted and who can access it at any one time
  • A 24x7 team of security experts, monitoring AWS’ infrastructure for potential incursions
  • Reassurance that all software is continually kept up to date, and with the ability to automate recurring security checks
  • The ability to easily conform to local data privacy laws and regulations
  • Access to a wider ecosystem of security partners, who can help advise on best practice

AWS is a member of CISPE (Cloud Infrastructure Services Providers in Europe), and follows its Code of Conduct. As part of the Code, cloud providers must ensure their infrastructure is fully compatible with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and give their customers the opportunity to store and process their data entirely in the European Economic Area. In addition, AWS is accredited for other national certifications, including Hébergeur de Données de Santé (HDS) for health data and the German government’s Cloud Computing Compliance Controls Catalog (C5) certification of protection against cyber attacks.

Together, these features and certifications help businesses feel confident that their data is safe. 90% of businesses using AWS say that security was one of the most important reasons they chose it as their platform:

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AWS is helping businesses grow and innovate

Cloud services not only save costs for businesses, but also make it possible for them to grow into world leaders:

While it is possible to build your own data centre, this requires significant up-front investment - the average on-premises data centre can cost between €1,830 to €9,700 per square meter to build - will not necessarily scale to other global regions, has a long lead time, and risks leaving the business with a stranded asset if the business decides to pivot to a new model. By contrast, the flexibility offered by cloud services to meet demand is more cost effective and allows businesses to not operate and maintain the infrastructure and instead focus on what makes them unique.

In our polling, we found a clear association between business growth and direct usage of cloud:

  • 43% of businesses investing in cloud reported growing in the past three years, compared to just 30% of businesses that had not invested in cloud.
  • 27% of businesses investing in cloud reported growing over 5% a year in the past three years, compared to just 16% of businesses that had not invested in cloud.

From lipstick to computer games, trucking to retail trade, AWS is helping supporting innovative French businesses such as:

  • Meero is a French startup that uses AWS to run its AI-driven photograph enhancement to customers in more than 100 countries globally.
  • TruckOnline uses AWS to track the activities of its trucks, including their  stops made, location and petrol consumption, radically simplifying administration
  • EDF Renouvelables uses AWS to transfer data from their solar panels and wind turbines into  a centralized data framework, allowing them to reduce costs and respond faster
  • L’Oréal is using AWS to run an augmented reality application that allows customers to try lipstick on themselves before they buy it
  • Video game studio Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain and Detroit: Beyond Human, used AWS to deploy at scale virtual desktops to their workforce in under two weeks, allowing them to rapidly switch to remote working during Covid-19.
  • Soitec uses sensors that feed into AWS to improve the production of its semiconductor materials, reducing their cost by over ten times.
  • Veolia Water reduced its operating costs by 90% by moving legacy applications such as its water billing system to the cloud.

In our polling, businesses also agreed that AWS was making a real difference to their ability to innovate:

81 %

of AWS-using businesses say that the cloud has made it easier for their business to be agile or react quickly
75 %

of AWS-using businesses say that they made it easier for their business to innovate and bring new products to market
78 %

of AWS-using businesses say that the use of cloud platforms has made it easier to adopt new data intensive technologies, such as AI and big data
61 %

of AWS-using businesses say that their business or operating model would not be possible without cloud
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AWS is helping businesses create new solutions for the public sector

Traditionally, Government IT has had a mixed reputation : seeing frequent delays, cost overruns and out of date technology.17 Given the importance of many public services and the sensitivity of the data underwriting it, often only large companies could afford to build and accredit the required security standards - which limited the number of options available to governments to procure from smaller and more agile companies.

Cloud platforms make it possible to level the playing field - making it easier for small companies to build their software to the level of security needed for the public sector. At the same time, they offer the potential for new types of public sector reform: increasing transparency through open data, making it easier to integrate new technology and offer more services to citizens.

In the last decade, France’s adoption of cloud in the public sector was widely seen to lag behind other countries - held back by a conservative approach to investment. Surveys of industry figures found the country was seen as behind Italy, Spain, the UK and the Nordic countries.18 While the US announced a Cloud First strategy in 2011, and the UK 2013, France did not announce its own central cloud strategy until 2018.19

Since the adoption of its own cloud strategy, however, the country has started to catch up. Independent assessments generally judge France to have a middling to strong digital government - the country comes 11th on the OECD’s Digital Government Index20 and 19th on the UN’s E-Government Survey.21

Under the current cloud strategy, public sector organisations can access the power of external cloud platforms like AWS through the UGAP Cloud Computing Services services market and AWS partner Capgemini, who acts as the public sector reseller and integrator of AWS services. This should make it much easier for public services and organisations to build new services on best in class cloud infrastructure, and remove many of the old blockers.  At the same time, the Government has announced an ambitious agenda, "400 days to accelerate the State’s digital transformation’ on the 5th of March 2021, with a new cloud strategy for the state due to be published imminently.22

In our business polling we saw good evidence that AWS was now helping many businesses sell into the public sector:

67 %

of companies using AWS and selling into the public sector said that their business or operating model would not be possible without cloud platforms
77 %

of companies using AWS and selling into the public sector said that the use of the cloud made it easier for their business to innovate and bring new products to market
86 %

of companies using AWS and selling into the public sector said that the use of the cloud made it for possible for their business to keep operating throughout the Covid-19 pandemic
76 %

of companies using AWS and selling into the public sector said that the use of the cloud made it possible for their business to compete with larger companies

This is helping innovative companies develop new types of solution for the public sector:

  • EdTech platform Beecome used AWS to rapidly ramp up during the Covid-19 crisis to deliver 10,000 hours of courses in streaming to over 55,000 users, including 3,000 for courses in streaming, and has generated more than 200,000 interactions.
  • Oleyxa and Réseau SNCF used the AWS service Amazon SageMaker to develop a computer vision detection model, helpful them better identify potential security breaches in France’s railway infrastructure.

At the same time AWS is helping accelerate medical research in France by sponsoring two leading health research institutions, Gustave Roussy and Sorbonne University, providing them with the additional computing power and machine learning technology they respectively need in order to accelerate cancer research and the development of a treatment for Covid-19:

  • The cancer research centre Gustave Roussy is using AWS to build new machine learning models to analyse medical images, and as a result, improving immune system response as well as learning more about osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer that affects younger patients.
  • The theoretical chemistry laboratory Sorbonne University / CNRS  is using AWS to perform high performance computing (HPC) in order to model various proteins involved in the SARS-Cov-2 and Cov-1 viruses. Researchers at the laboratory therefore hope to better understand the virus and contribute to the development of a drug and a treatment.
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The cloud can help keep the recovery going

From online retail to remote working, the pandemic has accelerated many trends, particularly within tech. As we have seen throughout this report, cloud computing was central to all of this - making it possible for businesses of all sizes to adapt overnight to a changed world. Today, policy makers and companies should focus on implementing the tools and mechanisms necessary to capture the same agility and innovation during the recovery.

Across advanced economies, there remains a long way to go before cloud is a fully mature technology - but uptake in France specifically lags behind its peers:

  • According to Eurostat, just 27% of companies in France with more than 10 employees bought cloud computing services in 2020, compared to 33% in Germany, 59% in Italy or 75% in Finland.
  • When you look at what Eurostat describes as ‘high cloud computing services’ - accounting software, consumer relationship management (CRM) or computing power - the gap is similarly large. In 2020, only 16% of companies in France with more than 10 employees bought high cloud computing services, compared to 32% in Italy, 40% in the Netherlands or 54% in Finland.
  • By total spending, the public cloud market in France is around half the size of the market in the UK. On a per capita basis, total spending in France is less than a quarter of the level in the US.

While it is impossible to predict the future, there are multiple reasons to believe that the impact of cloud computing of growth  is likely to grow significantly over the next decade - and that France should be able to catch up with its peers:

  • Most technologies, particularly these that are business focussed, have historically taken many decades to reach full maturity.23 Even if we date the cloud’s birth from the invention of AWS, it is only fifteen years old.
  • Cloud computing is generally a crucial prerequisite for other business technologies that are growing in importance, such as big data or machine learning.
  • The experience of many companies during Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of cloud computing for building resilience and supporting more flexible working styles.
  • While a majority of companies in France now use some form of cloud computing, often this usage is relatively shallow - and there still remains significant scope for more intensive adoption and digital transformation within legacy companies.

In total, we estimate that the cloud as a whole is currently supporting around the equivalent of 1% of French GVA.

Even under a relatively conservative scenario, where France simply catches up with other countries, the economic impact of cloud computing would grow significantly:

  • If France could match the level of per capita cloud spending of Germany, this would increase the estimated economic impact by €6 billion
  •  If France could match the level of per capita cloud spending of the UK, this would increase the estimated economic impact by €16 billion

Increasing cloud prevalence also has significant potential for helping local economies. In our polling we saw a significant disparity in cloud uptake across regions. While 69% of companies in the Île-de-France region reported using cloud platforms, the same was true for only 46% of companies in Normandie.

If we could boost the cloud prevalence of the Normandie to match that of Île-de-France , for example, our estimates show that it would boost local productivity and wages by €90 a year, or around €400 million a year in total.

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Appendix A: Methodology

Like machine learning or the smartphone, cloud computing is one of the most significant technological advances of our time. Unfortunately, at the moment, we have limited official data on cloud uptake and outcomes, data on cloud usage is only available at a global evel and for businesses with more than 10 employees through Eurostat.24

In order to help fill this gap and to better understand the impact of AWS and cloud computing on the French economy, we combined multiple research methods:

  • We ran a new representative poll of 1,500 senior business decision-makers, giving them an in-depth questionnaire about which software and cloud services they were using. The questionnaire sought information about the cloud’s impacts on their businesses and what would make them invest more in this area. In order to ensure our data was representative of the French economy as a whole, we quotaed and weighted our data to include a range of business sizes, industries and regions.
  • In order to better understand the AWS Partner Network ecosystem, we asked AWS to distribute a second survey to 100 partners.
  • Drawing on the academic literature on the economic impact of cloud computing and the fresh data provided by our polling, we built new economic models to fully understand the impact of AWS and how this varies by industry or region. Our modelling was reviewed by multiple independent reviewers.

Estimating the impact of AWS on business productivity

The core measure in our study is an estimate of the total gross value added (GVA) supported by AWS in France - or in other words, the total amount of profits earned by businesses and their supply chains, thanks to their usage of AWS.

Our priority was to look at the benefits enjoyed by customers of AWS - we did not seek to measure the direct or induced impact of the investment by AWS in data centres or local offices in France.

As part of our survey, we asked businesses to estimate:

  • Their business revenue, and its average growth in the last three years
  • Their total spend on cloud computing
  • The amount they had saved from using cloud computing as compared to in-house IT
  • The additional revenue they earned from using cloud computing, not including the above cost saving
  • Their level of confidence in the latter two estimates

For example, in order to estimate their savings from cloud, we asked businesses:

In an average year, roughly speaking, how much do you estimate your business saves by using a cloud service for your IT infrastructure, as compared to more traditional on-site servers?

Given the timeline and scope of our study, we believed that using an anonymous online business survey was the most proportionate research methodology.

However, as with all self-reported data, polling data comes with inevitable limitations:

  • Respondents to an online survey may not be representative of businesses a whole.
  • Businesses may misremember, simply not know or inaccurately estimate key financial data.
  • Many business leaders may poorly understand the cloud or how their business uses it.

In order to guard against these possible shortcomings, we took these steps:

  • Provided respondents with a lengthy explanation of what cloud computing is and is not;
  • Asked respondents to provide their level of confidence in their estimates separately and used this to weight their response, and;
  • Wherever possible, calibrated our data against other sources.

As is standard practice in economic impact studies, our results look only at the gross economic impact of AWS - the overall business revenue supported by it - rather than comparing it against a hypothetical where AWS does not exist.

In order to generate our headline estimate of AWS’s economic impact, we first created an estimate of the ratio of economic activity created to cloud spend for each business:

  • We converted estimates of additional revenue into additional gross value added by applying the average French GVA fixed effects multiplier, taken from the latest input-output tables from the OECD.
  • We added this to each company’s estimate of cost savings, and then divided by their estimated spending on the cloud.

In order to generate an estimate of ROI for each business:

  • We converted estimates of additional revenue into  profitability by applying Eurostat data on the average French gross operating surplus.
  • We added this to each company’s estimate of cost savings, and then divided by their estimated spending on the cloud.

In order to aggregate our estimates for the French economy as a whole, we averaged our estimates for four size classes of business, weighting by the respondent’s level of confidence in their estimates:

  • Micro businesses (0 to 9 employees)
  • Small businesses (10 to 49 employees)
  • 50 to 249 employees
  • Large businesses (250+ employees)

We then multiplied each average by:

  • The OECD’s estimate of the number of businesses in each size class, taken from the Business Statistics by Employment Size Class (BSC).
  • The proportion of businesses in each size class using cloud, and of those, using AWS, taken from our polling.

In order to estimate the economic activity created for each region, we:

  • Apportioning out the national impact by that region’s share of total French GVA, using OECD estimates of regional GVA.
  • Applied an adjustment to this value, based on the region’s relative cloud share, drawn from our polling.

In order to estimate the potential impact of higher uptake of cloud, we assume that the value per cloud user remains constant, and total the potential aggregate impact.

Sensitivity Analysis

In general, we sought to stay with conservative assumptions:

  • When calculating AWS’ impact on the economy, we did not include a type 2 multiplier of induced demand. This type of multiplier measures the impact of additional spending by employees in raising demand in the local economy, but is less relevant for national technologies like the cloud.
  • We used economy wide averages for the ratios between revenue to GVA or profitability. Given our polling data shows that cloud companies are growing significantly faster than average, we believe that it is likely that their profitability is also higher.
  • We weighted down the answers of respondents who said they were only somewhat or not very confident in their estimates, and did not include at all respondents who said they were not at all confident.
  • We did not ask businesses to provide an estimate of the non IT savings they earned from cloud from better ways of working.

Appendix B: Regional Estimates

 Regional cloud prevalence25Cloud GVA (2019, €m)
Centre-Val de Loire60%836.10
Grand Est59%1829.94
Pays de la Loire63%1443.17
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur57%1809.01

Appendix C: Business poll sample details

In order to better understand how cloud technologies were being used by businesses across France, we ran a new dedicated two stage business poll in the France, working with the panel provider Dynata to poll 1,500 senior business decision makers from across the France, different industries and size of business:

  • In the first stage, we sought a representative panel of French businesses - allowing us to better understand cloud prevalence across business types.
  • In the second stage, we restricted our sample to cloud users only, boosting this part of the sample to allow us to zoom into their experience of the cloud.

Sample size by region

 Total sampleNational representative sample (unweighted)National representative sample (weighted)
Centre-Val de Loire534031
Grand Est1178167
Pays de la Loire614445
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur11670107

Sample size by number of employees

 Total sampleNational representative sample (unweighted)National representative sample (weighted)
1 - sole trade1048795
Don't know400

Sample size by sector

 Total sampleNational representative sample (unweighted)National representative sample (weighted)
Accommodation & food service activities483535
Administrative & support service activities463133
Agriculture, forestry & fishing191312
Arts, entertainment & recreation403437
Electricity & gas supply381918
Financial & insurance activities1227069
Human health & social work activities877071
Information & communication1638783
Mining & quarrying1168
Other service activities180130129
Professional, scientific & technical activities1027675
Public administration & defence; social security583637
Real estate activities443132
Transportation & storage865555
Water supply, sewerage & waste management18119
Wholesale & retail trade including repair of motor vehicles1429897
  5. Based upon our estimate of the total GVA impact, and the average GVA per worker in France.
  12. Amazon becomes the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, Amazon, 2020
  13. Recalibrating global data center energy-use estimates
  14. The Carbon Reduction Opportunity of Moving to Amazon Web Services
  23. Speech given by Andy Haldane at the Guild Society, University of Oxford, on Wednesday 23 May 2018
  25. From our polling.