Orange embarked on its Essentials2020 strategy in 2015 to connect all its customers to the things they care about, and treat them to an unmatched experience, by creating the digital services that they need to relax and enjoy what is essential to them.
Here, experts inside and outside the Group shed light on our strategy’s five levers.
Early on in our term in office, we decided that every household, business and city-hall office would have powerful Internet access. For the same reason: so that everyone can use information and communication technology (ICT) more efficiently.
Over and above the economic and social implications, very high-speed access (and, more broadly, the new digital economy), as I see it, is a strategic issue and has implications for democracy too. It’s a strategic issue because we’re in an ideal, sheltered spot on the outer fringes of the Grand Paris area. We like that, but we also want our city to rank among the ones that are leading this huge area’s development. So we need to interconnect all the stakeholders here. And very high-speed access overlaps with democracy, too, because expanding digital infrastructure by rolling out optical fibre, setting up smart networks and introducing ICT are reshaping the way we administrate and govern cities, and the way people live in them. Furnishing institutions with digital infrastructure helps them become more efficient public stewards and improve the quality of many of the services they provide for the people in their areas. And the people use this very high-speed access to produce information, i.e. tell us what they need, the problems they are dealing with and what they want us to improve.
Colombes made this decision to “go smart”, i.e. gradually supply tools that will make users’ lives easier, almost three years ago. The fact that we’re connecting our street furniture (the terminals on our short-stop parking spots, for example) is gently easing flows in the city centre by spreading out the rush-hour traffic and avoiding bottlenecks. The services on the city council’s new website have simplified formalities. We’re interacting on social networks, so users and the administration are talking more now. Schools have tablets and other supplies, and are using them to encourage children to use the Internet and ICT in new ways, for their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. And the app – the latest and most responsive upgrade – is helping us to build on this new, close relationship.
We also think carefully about all our initiatives. The digital divide is real and we don’t want it to get any wider. We make sure everyone can use the solutions we put out there, and finds them useful, whether they know a lot about ICT or not.
Digital interfaces are the gateway into customer relationships: today, 80% of our customers’ journeys – whether they are buying something, looking for an answer or trying to solve a problem-start online. Social networks are becoming relationship channels where we interact with our customers – and where they are interacting with each other! At the same time, our customers are expecting more: they want to do everything hassle free, when and where they want it, enjoying a personalized, pleasant experience, even having fun doing it. Digital is ushering in the same experience standards across the board, and customers are expecting those standards from their telcos, their banks, their public services. We’re seeing these trends in every country. Our markets are all very different of course but, at the end of the day, our customers expect the same things everywhere: simple, efficient services, they want us to recognise them, listen to them, and bend around their needs, not the opposite. But we tailor our services to local specifics: in France, for example, simple service means our customers can switch options on or off with three clicks on the “Orange et moi” app; in Mali, it means they can top up their credit on their phone in less than fifteen seconds with Orange Money.
We’re going to be embedding new technology to make customers’ interactions with Orange even simpler and more tailored. We want to help our customers express themselves naturally and get their message across effortlessly, spare them having to look through tabs in an app, let them write or talk to us instead. And voice recognition technology, artificial intelligence and personal assistants are all becoming sharper, so voice interaction is back with a bang!
But, more than anything else, we’re investing in the skills of the 100,000 people we have out there serving our customers, empowering our advisors, sales assistants and technical experts, so that they can treat customers to superior services – because the human element is what creates positive emotions in a relationship. And that matters in business too: competition is fierce and the quality of the experience that customers have with us is what will make them choose Orange, stay with Orange and even pay slightly more!
Our responsibility is not only ensure that our solutions contribute to the harmonious development of the company overall, but also to bringing innovations engineered to make a positive difference in everyone’s life. This approach is primarily captured in the support we offer the 3,000 employees of Orange Romania, a strong sign of our commitment. And that commitment shows, as we were awarded the “Top Employer” label for the fifth year running.
One of our priorities over the past few years has been to incorporate digital capabilities into the employee experience. With new technology, ubiquity and instantaneous response have practically become standard. Teams can now communicate and collaborate as never before. The digital work environment transcends communication barriers and improves the employee experience in terms of efficiency, innovation and development. But we have to create the right conditions for this new work environment to bring about a true change in culture.
Digital technology is an amazing vector for relaying collective intelligence. It also provides a key channel for making sure that we listen to and share with employees. Our goal is to remain flexible and consistently in synch with employees’ needs, especially when it comes to training. With more than 4,000 digital learning modules available, employees can always choose what suits them best.
Nowadays, digitising work methods brings opportunities that far surpass the traditional advantages of boosting productivity or speed. Each employee now has the tools to share and promote ideas, get immediate feedback from colleagues, support fellow team members or get them involved, and much more. Digital technology offers managers new ways of encouraging their teams to engage with the company in everything it does.
The work experience has evolved tremendously with the development of mobile applications and the enterprise social network Plazza, and with new opportunities to learn and innovate. For example, e-learning has, since 2016, become the number one training method applied at Orange Romania. This helps us to stay on top of our objective of guaranteeing continuing education for our employees.
And of course, these changes are moving forward without compromising on our key values and principles, namely respect for work-life balance. We always look for ways to interconnect and unite these two worlds seamlessly.
Orange instils the drive in its employees to experiment, innovate and reinvent their role and our approach to designing and developing products and services. That means we encourage people to create and express themselves and to challenge us in the way we do things. We set the conditions so that each individual can learn and grow every day.
To meet the specific needs of our customers, we’re transforming and digitising our company from within, i.e., in the way we design, make and deliver our products. We are rethinking our products to leverage more intelligent solutions – e.g. fitting them with sensors to collect data more easily – and eventually provide analytics. We’re also designing applications for our customers so that they can increasingly digitise their operations. Lastly, we are rolling out Predix, an industrial operating system that customers can use to build their own digital applications for the future. This gives them the opportunity to gain a substantial operational advantage in the technological revolution happening right now, while upgrading their business and taking it in new directions.
We are integrating new work methods to make this digital transformation a reality. I’m referring to FastWorks, the new GE-designed product development framework, or tools that introduce our employees to novel concepts, such as Agile and DevOps. Basically, we’re going digital first before we digitise our customers.
This transition cuts deep into an organisation and will eventually rewrite our business model. In the future, we won’t just be a machine manufacturer and seller, but a digital industrial company that supplies machines along with data and software, so that our customers can streamline their operations.
We’re lucky to have a trusted partner, Orange, by our side to accompany us on this journey. Orange has been capable of rethinking its own products and services to put its customers, like us, in a position to move forward in their digital transformation.
I’m convinced that the digital world cannot be tackled alone. It can be harnessed with the help of partners. By working hand in hand with them, we can create and provide very high quality solutions.
These days, sub-Saharan Africa has a head start in the mobile money sector. The region has developed retail solutions that are beginning to draw attention from Europe and China. The development of usage is truly impressive. Over the next five years, we will witness a radical transformation in the way people access financial services.
It comes as no surprise that this region of the world would be spearheading the movement, as the penetration rate of mobile phones is inversely proportional to the use of banking services. In Africa, approximately four out of five adults do not have a bank account. Mobile technology is their only solution to access certain basic financial services, such as being paid a salary, paying a bill, saving, borrowing, etc. These transactions are essential to the development of trade and consumption and, more generally, to social and economic development.
However, many challenges remain. For instance, we noted how complicated it was for merchants and resellers to manage these mobile financial services, having to work with dozens of solutions and terminals from different service providers. So we came up with InTouch SA to solve the issue. This universal platform was developed to aggregate payment methods and integrate transaction services, enabling merchants to manage all the needs of their retail customers from a single mobile device. These services include paying for a TV subscription or carrying out a transaction using Orange Money. Our solution is available at all service stations in Senegal operated by our partner Total, and we are working to open subsidiaries across the entire continent.
InTouch SA is just one of many examples. We need more and more entrepreneurs to address these issues and people’s needs at a local level. This means offering digital solutions in all areas, including finance of course, as well as farming, healthcare, education and so on. But to succeed, we also need partners, like Orange, who are committed to developing the ecosystem. That commitment goes beyond financing startups and support systems, such as the incubator CTIC that we set up in Dakar, to providing broader access to technical resources. A case in point, African entrepreneurs desperately need APIs developed by Orange!