FT Unveils New Action Plan

France Telecom today unveiled its new five-year strategy, which is centered around the development of next-generation broadband access network, international development, ramping its global customer base by 50 percent, and reconnecting with its disenchanted workforce. (See France Telecom Unveils New Strategy.)

The French giant, which prefers to use the Orange brand name these days, has had a year to forget, and now has a new CEO, Stéphane Richard, who's looking to make something of a fresh start with his new team. (See FT Unveils New Top Team, France Telecom to Get New CEO, Shakeup at France Telecom, FT Suspends Restructuring, FT Responds to Suicides, France Telecom Under Fire, and Photos: Protest & Unrest in France.)

Much of what's included in the new "industrial project" isn't new or surprising, but there's a definite shift in tone and focus from the past few years.

The five-year plan is being presented as a series of "conquests," giving the carrier a heroic image as a telecom crusader.

The four conquests are centered around:

  • The Employees: The new CEO is clearly desperate to build bridges between the senior management and the broader workforce following last year's tragedies and some initial employment-related agreements. (See FT Signs 'Senior' Staff Deal.)

    According to Orange, the new strategy was created following a broad, company-wide consultation and, as a result, the action plan has a strong emphasis on keeping the staff happy.

    "Orange aims first and foremost to win over the men and women that form the heart of the company," the operator states. "The Group is committed to offering its employees a beneficial working environment thanks to a new vision of human resources, a new management style and shared values."

    It has even committed to spending €900 million (US$1.13 billion) between now and the end of 2012 on hiring 10,000 staff, improving working conditions, and improving employee benefits.

    You can be sure that if those ideals are not met, we'll all get to hear about it from the vocal French employees.

  • The Networks: While the past few years have seen Orange focusing heavily on content and applications capabilities, today there's a strong message about the group's network infrastructure. (See Orange, MySpace Team on Ads, Orange Is Mad for Ads, FT Finds Its Way With Orca's Compass, Orange, BesTV Team Up, Orange, LG to Develop TV Portal, and Orange Joins Apps Store Club.)

    "Orange reaffirms that its networks are its core business and its future. The Group has been built around its network and the expertise of its technicians, and its employees take great pride in that." Go networks!!

    The carrier reconfirmed its commitment to invest €2 billion ($2.5 billion) in its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) rollout, and noted that it's "ready to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) as soon as the regulations are in place." (See FT's FTTH Crawl, AlcaLu Spouts LTE News, and FT Plans €2B FTTH Spend.

    It also says it will "invest in the monetization of mobile data traffic," which appears to be a reference to a forthcoming revamp of its pricing strategy, as well as "build up network quality of service," and support the deployment of "green" networks, "such as the Oryx program of solar-powered mobile telephone masts in Africa."

  • The Customers: Ah yes, the great unwashed… Orange admits it has some work to do here. "In order to regain the trust of its customers, it must first improve the quality of service and customer relations, particularly by placing a higher value in the loyalty of its existing customers." The carrier wants to become a “multimedia coach" for its customers [Ed note: Is it going to open a digital gym?], and continue to develop "products in healthcare and education as well as mobile payment or money transfer services such as its Orange Money programme in Africa." (See Orange Money Expands in Africa.)

    The operator has also set itself a goal of increasing its global customer base by around 50 percent by the end of 2015, from roughly 200 million currently to 300 million. That's a lot of new customers, especially for any carrier that's not active in India or China. It would appear the aim is to increase market penetration through a combination of organic and inorganic growth, which is where the fourth and final conquest comes in…

  • International development: Orange is on the lookout for suitable international acquisitions, and has "set its sights on reviving a spirit of growth through international development" to help it double its revenues from "emerging markets" by 2015. At the end of 2009, Orange had about 50 million customers in emerging markets, generating revenues of €3.4 billion ($4.26 billion).

    The carrier is particularly hopeful it can generate significant growth in the Africa and Middle East region, where it already has operations in 19 markets.

    Don't get too excited, though, as Orange notes this won't include anything "transformational," which suggests it isn't planning on re-engaging with Telia Company . (See FT Drops $42B Bid .)

    That, then is FT/Orange's plan in a nutshell, though now, it notes, it needs to figure out the "financial details." It hopes to have that rather important data sorted out by the autumn.

    Investors reacted favorably towards the general plans, as FT's share price edged up by 1.5 percent Monday to €14.42 on the Paris exchange.

    — Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

  • digits 12/5/2012 | 4:30:51 PM
    re: FT Unveils New Action Plan

    I have never seen a carrier medium-term strategy that was SO upfront about how its main challenge is to put its own house in order. Amazing.

    stelabokun 12/5/2012 | 4:30:50 PM
    re: FT Unveils New Action Plan

    To me it sounds a bit overwhelming (too ambitious?!), as if they would do “everything everywhere”….

    edwardmay1 12/5/2012 | 4:30:42 PM
    re: FT Unveils New Action Plan



    Very sad to see the Orange brand being discussed in terms of rebuilding a relationship between staff and senior management. orange was a great company with focused people before FT took over.

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