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Orange unveils new five-year grand plan

With the Essential2020 plan all but complete, Orange has released the details of the Engage2025 strategy to drive growth over the next five years.

The new strategy is going to be focused on four key pillars; reinventing the operator business model, accelerating growth in the developing markets and emerging segments, integrate artificial intelligence at the centre of every aspect of the business, and building sustainability goals through the organization.

“If I had to summarise Engage2025, Orange’s new strategic plan, I would use two words: growth and sustainability,” said CEO Stephane Ricard.

“The first one is growth. We are going to grow our core business – connectivity – by adding to our competitive edge and by making the most of our network infrastructure. We are also going to foster growth beyond connectivity in Europe thanks to three elements which set us apart from our competitors, namely Africa & the Middle East, B2B IT services and financial services.

“The second is sustainability. At Orange we are convinced that in the years ahead strong economic performance will not be possible without exemplary performance on social and environmental issues.”

Looking at the operator business model, the next five years will be focused on the development of fibre and 5G at the core of Orange. 5G will begin to be switched on across Europe throughout next year, and the team plan to transition through to a 5G core by 2023. At this point, low-latency services and network slicing will be a reality and, arguably, 5G will have actually arrived for Orange.

Another interesting element of this section is the passive infrastructure assets. Like many of its competitors, Orange will spin-off the 40,000 towers assets into a standalone business. Orange will maintain majority control of the pan-European tower company, in a move which is becoming increasingly common in the telecom world.

The second component is an obvious one; make more money in places where the business can make more money. For Orange, this means rolling out more infrastructure across Africa, increasing enterprise revenues, particularly in IOT and cybersecurity, and finally, launching the financial services unit in all European nations where Orange has a presence.

The third pillar of this strategy is artificial intelligence. AI is a collection of technologies which have incredible power to revitalise a business if implemented correctly. For Orange, this means more personalised interactions with a customer, improving back-office functions such as fraud detection, and embedding intelligence into the network strategy. The latter applies to both planning the deployment of mobile and fibre assets, as well as more efficient maintenance.

Finally, sustainability. This applies to areas which are obvious, such as helping to tackle climate change, but other areas such as being a more responsible employer. Upskilling and retraining employees is a big part of this segment, with Orange suggesting it will train 20,000 employees in network virtualisation, artificial intelligence, data, cloud computing, code and cybersecurity.

For the most part, it is difficult to measure the delivery of such a strategy, as this is more a blue-sky thinking vision being presented to investors. That said, it does give a bit more flavour to what Orange will look like in a few years, even if there are no surprises at all.

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