One practical example of what the digital transition enables is the emergence of car sharing in many major cities. These systems let you use your smartphone to book an electric car for a trip from A to B. This marks a total departure from the traditional model of personal transportation and its associated economic model, because you haven’t had to buy a car, but rather the use of it for a limited period. According to Nicolas Petit we are therefore no longer a society of owners, but a society in which objects are used only for a given period.

Nicolas Petit believes that in the energy industry, the digital transition has completely changed the relationship with consumers. Today, when consumers call a company, they expect a fast and documented response, because they will have used the Internet and social networks to find information before making the call.

But as well as changing the business model, the digital transition is also changing the relationship between companies and their customers. Companies no longer simply supply services to their customers, but create those services in conjunction with customers by continually incorporating their views and recommendations into the service development process. The change is all the more dramatic since individual consumers can now also generate their own power.

Nicolas Petit: «The most important aspect of the digital transition is not technological, it’s cultural.» For a company this means – for example – gathering and incorporating consumer feedback, as well as interacting directly with consumers online to offer more closely tailored services faster. Nicolas Petit sees the heart of the digital transition not as the systems involved, but the interaction they enable.

And although it can boost financial performance, it has also – and more importantly – enabled the emergence of new company evaluation criteria, like corporate social responsibility and the ability to engage and motivate employees. The digital transition is therefore central to company performance.