Orange Business Services (OBS) hosted its analyst event in Paris in July 2017. The event’s theme was “Digital Business: Joining The Dots”. OBS highlighted its emerging digital service offerings as well as the progress it is making regarding its own digital business transformation. OBS’ CEO Thierry Bonhomme summed up the strategic direction when he observed: “It’s not about owning the network infrastructure, but about turning the network into a platform play.” Orange is no longer just a network story. Orange is increasingly positioning itself as a solution orchestrator.
OBS Uses Customer-Centric Language And Focuses On Their Most Relevant Priorities
In the previous year, OBS has made good progress in several areas. In particular, OBS is:
- Reflecting current and emerging market realities in its strategy. “Connecting the dots” is the right approach to supporting digital transformation of its clients. To be successful in the digital age, organizations require “enriched connectivity,” a “collaborative workspace,” effective “cyber defense,” “flexible as-a-service technology,” “advanced analytics” capabilities, and “enriched customer relations”. OBS positions itself to connect these various “dots” to deliver end-to-end solutions for its business customers. Over the last year, OBS credibly advanced in terms of customer-centricity. This is reflected in its product development processes, such as co-creation with customers.
- Treating its network as a data source. OBS is talking about data as a fundamental component of its vision. It wants to orchestrate customer data at every stage of the customer’s journey. The central enabling component of this vision is OBS’ network. The company is moving towards an application-enabled network architecture. Orange is doing so in an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary manner. For instance, OBS is rolling out its LoRa network in France first to make available services on top of it, as for instance asset tracking. OBS launched DataVenue in October 2016 internationally as the platform for some analytics capabilities. In addition, OBS uses network-based data to extract customer insights for better collaboration services, such as providing proactive help-desk support for workplace services and quality-aware planning of end-user computing requirements.
- Strengthening its global cloud strategy. OBS’ global public cloud offering, in partnership with Huawei, is already available in Europe and Asia Pacific. At a later stage, it will be rolled out to other regions. OBS offers its public cloud offering on Huawei’s OpenStack-based infrastructure. It will complement it with OBS’ multi-cloud managed services and cyber-defense expertise to provide its customers with flexible public cloud options. The partnership with Huawei helps Orange to position itself as a credible cloud service provider in China, with global MNCs as well as Chinese companies expanding their activities in Asia and beyond. Few cloud service providers have a similar ability.
Challenges Remain To Transform Orange Into A Solution Orchestrator
Orange has several areas that require additional attention as part of its transformation process. In our opinion, Orange needs to:
- Dramatically improve its NPS score. By definition, a trusted service orchestrator and broker delivers high levels of customer satisfaction. OBS must cater to ever-faster changing customer expectations and to grow the share of wallet. OBS already works on process simplification and creating a more agile organization. As part of the drive to boost NPS, OBS has broken its customer experience improvement activities into five subcategories, including “quality control,” “commercial relationship improvements,” “ease of using services,” “delivery efficiency,” and “support effectiveness”. This is a step in the right drection.
- Rationalize its analytics activities that currently coexist side-by-side. We perceived a need to clarify data gathering and analyzing capabilities between different areas of activities at Orange. Orange must avoid setting up parallel analytics activities and silos. As part of OBS’ data activities, we were briefed regarding workspace analytics for up- and cross-selling, external data monetization, internal asset performance management, and process analytics. Moreover, Orange needs to catch up with data activities by peers, like Telefonica’s Aura or Singtel’s DataSpark. It would be encouraging to see Orange to provide a similar vision to put customers in charge of their own data.
- Fight the “not invented here” syndrome. Like many telco peers, OBS is clinging to the old telco habit of developing and designing too many services inhouse. All too often, the results are poor user-interfaces and over-engineered products and services, such as OBS’ attempts to design a data visualization solution or a workspace administrator interface. This risks of delivering a sub-par customer experience and hampers true innovation. Instead, OBS should embrace and collaborate more with existing services by the best in class providers. OBS needs to beef up its digital ecosystem of partners and develop robust portfolio management capabilities.
Despite these challenges, OBS clearly is moving in the right direction. It is strengthening co-innovation with customers, overhauling its product development capabilities, and investing in building solid data and analytics capabilities. Significantly, OBS also tackles management and cultural innovation. It encourages senior management to imitate and follow digital projects and new ways of doing business — including the ability to experiment and learn from success and failures.