CNNum: the challenges of Mounir Mahjoubi

by bold-lichterman

Mounir Mahjoubi inherits a strengthened National Digital Council but a Council that he will have to change if he wants to consolidate the legitimacy acquired by the young institution during previous mandates.

Since its inception, in the form of a Council of Web entrepreneurs with the government, chaired by Gilles Babinet then by Patrick Bertrand, until its latest version, the CNNum has already changed a lot. Like digital in a few ways. Recently, under the direction of Benoît Thieulin, the CNNum has confirmed its expertise and independence while gaining influence both in public opinion and among decision-makers. The Council thus expressed in a salutary manner the need to protect digital freedoms, in particular in the context of the fight against terrorism; took a stand on decisive subjects such as net neutrality and platform neutrality; supported the development of a genuine French and European digital transition policy with its national consultation and its Digital Ambition report. In addition, its opinions on emerging uses of digital technology, from health education, are regularly taken into account, thus marking its benchmark position in this area in our country.

The work of CNNum therefore has the merit of broadly sweeping all the subjects that can be assimilated to “digital”. The foundations are laid, we must now build. This is the main challenge that Mounir Mahjoubi will have to tackle: to develop the CNNum from a role of prophet and sectoral expert, now largely fulfilled, towards a role of transversal expert able to shed light on the ‘all the players involved in the inevitable irrigation of all sectors of our economy and our society by digital technology, with an impact that remains to be mastered.

The violent disruptions that digital technology induces – like the tensions at work in the passenger transport sector – will multiply and disrupt other sectors: industrialists such as the automobile industry or even the manufacturing sector as a whole with 3D printing but also social with health which will have to evolve in the face of the digital data tsunami, or even education where the multitude is redrawing the notion of knowledge and its learning. By retaining its ability to anticipate, the new CNNnum will have to go beyond its role as a digital oracle to take into account the diversity of sectoral impacts and propose transversal public policies, adapted to this transition.

This necessary reorganization is not without risks insofar as it would encourage the Council to take more clear-cut positions, and therefore more political, on subjects which have become more concrete than technical and theoretical. This also implies varying the expertise invoked, encroaching, sometimes, on the ground of other consultative bodies, and avoiding any corporatist temptation. The new composition of the Council therefore shows an assembly made up exclusively of experts in new technologies, leaving little room for representatives of all the sectors of the “old economy” affected by the digital irruption. Perhaps more weight should have been given to sectors about to be affected by the digital irruption, for example in the manufacturing or automotive sectors. This choice being made, it is now necessary to ensure that a certain balance is kept in the reflections of the council. Certainly difficult to find, but it is essential for the relevance of the Council’s opinions and therefore for its usefulness, in particular in the eyes of the public authorities, which remain the main source of solicitation for CNNum.

olivier-sichel-le-guideOlivier Sichel is the president of the Digital New Deal Foundation. After starting his career in 1994 at the Inspection Générale des Finances, Olivier Sichel joined France Telecom in 1998 to hold operational responsibilities, in particular as CEO of, pioneer of electronic commerce in September 2000, then CEO of Wanadoo in 2002, the number 1 in France for internet access. He is behind the launch of the Livebox and VOIP. In 2006, he joined Sofinnova Partners, leader in venture capital in France, then took over the management of LeGuide Group on July 16, 2012. is number 1 in Europe for shopping guides and operates in 14 European countries and in 9 languages .

Photo credit: © Benjamin Boccas