Top 5 ESNs in France: who they are and how they help companies adapt to the digital world

Top 5 ESNs in France

Do you know how companies can adapt so easily to technological change and digital transformation? Thanks to ESNs. These digital services companies have a common goal: to provide and develop IT solutions for businesses so that they can quickly adapt to digital developments. There are many ESNs in France, but some stand out from the rest, especially in terms of annual turnover. Let's take a look at a ranking of the most profitable ESNs.

ESNs: what are they really and what are their advantages over the cloud?

Are you wondering what an ESN is? Formerly known as "SSII" (Société de Services en Ingénierie Informatique), an ESN is defined as a "digital services company". It is a BtoB (Business to Business) company that aims to provide and develop IT solutions for businesses. To do this, ESN offers expertise on all digital services used by businesses. This takes place in two stages. In the first stage, sales staff are sent to companies with IT problems. They then negotiate service contracts. Once these are signed, ESN sends consultants to the customer's territory to meet their needs and offer specific IT solutions that meet their requirements: support, development, training, engineering, consulting, design and more.

Among the business sectors in which ESNs operate, cloud services are at the top of the list. Although advising on digital transformation is one of the main tasks of ESNs, cloud services are gradually gaining ground.

And while the cloud is proving to be an affordable and efficient dematerialized solution, it has certain limitations when it comes to managing and storing data online. While the cloud is limited in terms of IT expertise and project management, ESNs stand out with their know-how in these two areas. Once the data is 100 percent hosted in the cloud, it is impossible to touch the structure or install security features. In contrast to ESNs, the cloud itself significantly limits the development possibilities of a company. And this is where ESNs come to the rescue. Allowing companies to turn to the services of IT specialists on an ad hoc basis, they build customer loyalty in case of problems with IT services and provide them with a certain flexibility in the development of activities and projects.

Today, ESN employs more than 350,000 people in France. Some of them are independent companies, others are large groups with an international reputation. To give you a clearer idea of what ESNs are, how they fit into the system, what their objectives are and their impact on business, we have ranked the 5 ESNs in France with the highest turnover.

How do digital services companies work?

Now that you know a bit more about what ESNs are, it is necessary to understand how they work. As you know, an ESN is a service company. They mainly consist of salaried IT consultants that they hire themselves on a fixed-price basis to provide technical assistance or TPAM. They also rely on the services of sales people who are tasked with the daunting task of strategically finding companies that need help. Whether they are technical specialists or IT consultants, they visit companies representing the respective ESN and provide them with the assistance they need depending on the challenges they face.

Therefore, the selection of consultants is crucial for the smooth operation of ESNs. Their qualifications determine the quality of the services they provide. They are regularly updated through the training that the consultants undergo in each department. They are said to work on a "cross-contract" basis.

What services do ESNs offer?

The role of ESNs is to support companies in their development and troubleshoot technical and IT issues that arise. To be more specific, we list below the tasks that ESNs handle on a daily basis:

  •  Maintaining the IT security of the company;
  •  securing data storage using cloud computing;
  •  optimizing the information system;
  •  designing and operating information infrastructures;
  •  conducting infrastructure audits;
  •  providing expertise in strategy, research and organization.

1. Capgemini's French ESNs

In first place is Capgemini, a global leader in digital strategy and transformation of companies and their businesses. Capgemini (formerly Sogeti), founded in 1967 in Grenoble, France, is today the largest ESN in France. It has around 300,000 employees in more than 50 countries.

In 2021, Capgemini achieved a record turnover of €3,443,000,000 among all French ESNs. And thanks to the loyalty of its customers, who are satisfied with the solutions it offers in the areas of strategy, operations management and technological innovation (AI, cloud, data, software, etc.), the French company intends to keep up its momentum.


IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) is an American multinational corporation specializing in IT services and hardware. Founded in 1911, it has a subsidiary in France that helps create innovation by supporting various companies in utilizing new emerging technologies.

Since its inception, IBM has been involved in a number of technological and historical innovations. These include:

  •  1961: the birth of the Shoebox machine speech recognition system, the predecessor to Siri and Alexa;
  •  1969: IBM developed computers and other software for the Apollo mission that helped send the first humans to the moon.

3. SCC is an expert in innovation

With more than 45 years of experience in IT and multi-sector innovation, SCC supports major global companies in their digital transformation based on three levers:

  •  Deploying a network and security strategy;
  •  developing usage and user experience technologies (UX Design);
  •  modernizing infrastructure and moving to a cloud model.

Through its 14 agencies across France, the French company delivers digital solutions to giants such as Thales, Safran, PSA Groupe and Richardson.

4. Atos

Founded in 1997, Atos has been one of the top 10 ESNs in the world for several years. This French company, specialized in digital transformation, offers its clients cutting-edge digital solutions.

On its website, the brand explains, "Anywhere in the world, Atos enables its customers and employees, and the greatest number of people in general, to live, work and develop sustainably and with full confidence in the information space."

Atos is also a major technology integrator and is responsible for providing the IT infrastructure for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Today, Atos is present in more than 73 countries thanks to 120,000 employees and experts in digital consulting and solutions.

5. Sopra Steria

In fifth place is Sopra Steria, a French digital services and digital transformation consultancy. Founded in 1968, it has quickly become one of the leaders in its industry. Sopra Steria employs 46,000 people in more than 30 countries, helping its corporate clients to quickly adapt to technological change.

In conclusion, ESNs are important partners for companies looking to adapt to the digital world. They offer a wide range of services that help companies adopt new technologies and processes, optimize their operations and increase efficiency.

In the future, the role of ESNs will only increase as digitalization continues to play an increasingly important role in business. ESNs will continue to evolve, offering new services and solutions to help companies stay competitive in the digital world.


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