“The health crisis, by accelerating the switch to the new computing age of the cloud, halted the growth of Atos.”

Cow to clear up the past so that it does not weigh on the future? In business strategy, as in psychoanalysis, the question is central. Trapped in its comfortable past, the large French IT service company Atos is brutally confronted with this question which has tormented people since Antiquity. This Wednesday, October 20, its board of directors voted to replace its managing director, Elie Girard, by a newcomer, Rodolphe Belmer, current boss of Eutelsat.

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As recognized by Chairman of the Board Bertrand Meunier in the Figaro, Atos took too long to question itself, faced with the profit situation of its historical activity of managing the IT infrastructures of its customers. However, this activity is in decline, accelerated in favor of the cloud, this dematerialized computer, accessible by Internet, much more flexible and economical.


Corporate computing has gone through three ages, the first with computers purring in the basements of banks and multinationals. Then with the years 1980-1990 was born the concept of outsourcing. This task is entrusted to external actors with large multi-year contracts as a result. It was the golden age of IT service companies. Atos was thus born from the consolidation and takeover of a considerable number of IT activities of large groups, from Crédit Lyonnais in its origins, in 1972, to Siemens in 2011, via Philips in 2000. That era is today. hui swept by the cloud and its champions: Amazon, Microsoft and Google. With billions of dollars, they amass computers in gigantic data centers all over the world.

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Anticipating this move, Atos tried to get out of the trap, expanding into cybersecurity, digital consulting, and signing an agreement with Google on the cloud in Europe. But the old IT, the one it operates for Siemens and others, still accounts for half of its turnover. Pressed by the race for the size to catch up with the long-standing competitor Capgemini, Atos continued its momentum without sufficiently uniting an increasingly heterogeneous group. The health crisis, by accelerating the switch to this new IT age, put a stop to the company’s growth. Investors have slaughtered the stock market. The trap has closed.

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