Orange hosted its analyst event in Paris in July 2015, detailing its Essentials 2020 strategy for business customers. Central to Orange’s Essentials 2020 strategy is:

  • Pushing its customer experience capabilities. Orange shared its ambition to make its entire organization listen to its customers more effectively. In our opinion, Orange is one of the more CIO-focused telcos. One of Orange’s key goals is to support the CIO in regaining control over technology projects that have been lost to line-of-business (LOB) managers, who launch technology projects outside the CIO’s remit. Importantly, Orange also told us that it is working increasingly with LOB managers.
  • Driving the cultural transformation of Orange itself. Orange must become braver to disrupt itself. This includes bringing in new perspectives and experiences from outside, including other sectors. There are some encouraging signs that this is beginning to happen. For instance, Orange Business Services recruited its deputy CEO, Laurent Paillassot, from the financial services sector and put the American Diana Einterz in charge of its French Major Accounts.
  • Enhancing its digital solutions. Orange recognizes the greater role of software and data in its customers’ and its own business models. At the event, Orange demonstrated a number of interesting digital solutions in the Internet-of-Things (IoT), mobile, and healthcare spaces, which equal those of its leading telco peers.

At the same time, CIOs must take note of the important role that network quality continues to play for cloud and IoT solutions. Against this backdrop, Orange’s CIO customers need to review their vendor portfolio and ask what role telcos can play in addition to providing connectivity in the mobile and IoT space:

  • The Orange Applications for Business (OAB) division represents its enterprise offering. The OAB division has 2,700 employees who focus on systems integration as well as 8,000 customers for cloud platforms, big data, and connected objects. In a break with the traditional telco business model, Orange has launched network-agnostic services for a leading global financial services firm concerning mobile services, including device and app management, CRM, network management, telecoms expense management, and integration services.
  • Orange develops and delivers its IoT activities via its Intelligent Apps Enabler offering. Intelligent Apps Enabler has access to 300 developers dedicated to IoT projects. Orange's IoT infrastructure ranges from sensor-based data collection services, data transmission over networks, and data storage and analysis to the presentation of analysis results on screens. Orange works with partners like Salesforce to offer IoT device catalog and cloud management.

Yet, we believe that Orange – like most telcos – has a long road to travel to become a truly strategic partner for CIOs during the digital transformation process. If Orange wants to have a future beyond delivering connectivity — which is an attractive business — it must:

  • Develop a greater urgency to change its business. Orange must speed up its product innovation cycles, strengthen its software capabilities, and change its business culture. Orange is pursuing an evolutionary approach to change and transition. This is increasingly dangerous, as Orange risks falling behind competitors without a telco background. For instance, we recently visited a Salesforce event where Salesforce reveled in its new role as a credible solution provider with a fast-growing digital ecosystem of partners.
  • Act more as a business enabler for its CIO customers. Orange brings the ability to build on best-practice examples of business technology that drive closer customer engagement, profitability, and, ultimately, turnover. Orange must now take more of an outside-in perspective, looking at problems through the eyes of its customers; it must also give its customer-facing employees greater freedom to take decisions that have an impact on the immediate customer experience.
  • Boost its presence at leading app developer events. Despite gradual progress to boost its software and application developer base, Orange must embrace a more open and flexible work environment if it wants to attract and retain the best talent in the software space.