What if the future was Slow Tech? When asked by a software publisher, this question could seem somewhat incongruous, and even counter-productive to its own interests. However Berger-Levrault is engaging with this concept, reflecting on its various applications in its fields of activity for the benefit of its customers and their missions for public services.
The aim is to combine technology and digital sustainability (technologies that enable a more ethical use of natural resources and greatly reduced ecological impact).
“Low-tech, high future,” is what the editors wrote in a report published in 2018 by Fabrique Ecologique. This view hit home for Berger-Levrault. The company has taken this vision and looked deeply at its other aspects, placing the philosophy of Slow Tech on one side, and the digital applications for its business lines on the other. What has been retained from the low-tech movement is the pragmatic and simple reality of its techniques, as well as its singular approach to innovation. By adopting the notion of slow, as in a slowdown of the state of mind in both a positive and voluntary fashion, Berger-Levrault can make better informed decisions, in accordance with a process of profound transformation. Then by projecting both aspects into the digital world, the company fully considers how to reach an economic model that is ethical and respectful of the environment. As a citizen actor, Berger-Levrault is walking on a new path of progress that limits the effect of its products on the environment and the subsequent human consequences.
BL’s clients are business players, who are conscious of the public interest of regulating and controlling their expenditures, on behalf of both present-day and future citizens. These actions systematically have an impact over the long term. Digital technologies, on the other hand, have a very short lifespan, they are influenced by trends, which leads to people expecting novelty and shortened deadlines.
Confronted with these opposing expectations, Berger-Levrault has chosen to develop solutions that are sustainable and durable, easy to deploy, manage, understand and maintain. Based on the philosophy of Slow Tech, Berger-Levrault can distinguish useful evolutions from those that are futile, too expensive for the public sector or too damaging to the environment. The challenge for the Research and Development teams is to provide innovations that are both real and that provide clear added value. The goal is to improve performance of digital tools in an eco-responsible way.
Examples of this approach: design, program, develop, deploy in a more energy-efficient way. “Eco-designer” software is a way to rethink software architecture – Deactivating various memory resources, limiting bandwidth, reducing the CPU cycles, etc.
Another area of application of Slow Tech in the digital world: the use of small data. Contrary to the artificial intelligences concepts, which is increasingly prevalent today and based upon big data in order to train up the machines, Berger-Levrault is creating adaptive learning, a system of continuous learning that changes and adapts in real time and is less greedy for data. An example of this is the pay error analysis engine that has recently been developed from a relatively limited amount of data. It already has a success rate of over 98%. So small amounts of data have been able to develop real artificial intelligence. Another example is from the maintenance sector: Berger-Levrault has developed artificial intelligence for luggage conveyor belts based on the feedback of simple sensors, offering a real added value to its client.
Measuring the need, outlining the response, projecting evolutions at a human level; taking the time to understand and thus allow the next generation to progress. A true challenge for public services.