EVP Innovation, Marketing & Technologies at Orange
Building the digital world together
By Isabelle Paradis
President, HOT TELECOM
Mari-Noëlle is a true inspiration. Executive Vice-President of Innovation, Marketing and Technologies at Orange and Member of the Orange Group Executive Committee, she gives the impulse of one of the world’s largest global operators’ technical transformation to ultimately provide its customers with a unique digital experience.
As you will see from the views she shared with me in regards to our society and our industry’s path towards full digitization, she is passionate about technology and what it enables. But more importantly, she is passionate about the power of the collective. As she says so well, if we build the digital world together, everything is possible.
DIGITAL CONNECTIVITY IS LIKE THE AIR WE BREATHE
What is the most exciting evolution currently taking place in the telecom industry?
The most exciting and significant revolution we are currently going through is the digitalization of our own industry. The core of our business – the network – is facing a deep transformation. Network functions are being virtualized. On top of the physical network, we are currently creating a new layer, a kind of “cloud telco operating system”. This layer plays a similar role to the operating system of our mobile phones, as it coordinates the cloud ecosystem and its data centres.
Thanks to this transformation, we will progressively be able to offer new services or applications to our customers. Each of these new applications will either be centralized on the network, which enables capabilities to be deployed globally from day one, or decentralized, which ensures it is closer to the customer.
This network transformation is a pre-requisite to the 5G deployment, and will soon empower us to offer ‘ambient connectivity’, as it will become like the air we breathe. It will be present anywhere, at any time and for any device. The networks of the future will therefore have the capabilities to adapt dynamically to variations of demand in real time.
Another interesting upcoming evolution will be the consolidation of the numerous applications that exist today around a limited number of platforms. Just like the example of the Wechat application gathering the functionalities of multiple applications such as online shopping, instant messaging and social networks. So we anticipate a limited number of ecosystems, together with a small number of key digital identities that will probably be created around entertainment, work and family life.
Finally, I cannot talk about exciting evolutions without mentioning the impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have in our lives. This new technology will change the world as we know it, allowing us to process and analyse more and more data.
Thanks to AI, we will not only be able to create new tailored services, but also to optimize the way we operate. AI will bring us a treasure trove of information for agile and optimized solutions and it will be up to us to take advantage of them to bring our businesses to the next level.
DIGITAL CUSTOMERS WILl DRIVE THEIR EXPERIENCE
Based on the evolutions you just discussed, what do you see as the main challenges that operators will need to address in the coming years?
see two challenges that operators need to tackle. The first is the need for them to open their mind to a new reality when it comes to their competitors and partners. They will need to partner with new types of players, which is a great opportunity, while at the same time be ready to face competition from players outside of their local markets, large and small, which will also pose some threats.
It will therefore be key for them to cooperate with other operators, to seek new partnerships and to constantly question what value they bring to this chain and how they successfully monetize this value. This will represent a profound change compared to the way operators are currently interacting with their competitors, partners and customers.
The second challenge will be to generate the competencies required for operators to transform themselves into software companies. This will necessitate a massive upskilling of employees at all levels of the organisation. Code is at the foundation of the digital transformation, and is like a new language…
It will therefore be crucial for all employees to learn the basis of this new widespread language and to get used to the new software culture and agile processes. This represents a complete shift in the way we work today. Some employees will need to learn to use software as a tool in their day-to-day work, without necessarily being software engineers.
How will these evolutions impact the way operators interact with their customers?
The challenge here will be to find ways to give our customers what they are expecting, which is a hyper-personalized, tailored 1-to-1 experience. Two things will help us achieve this.
The first will be the digitalization of the customer relationship to acquire a true end-to end view of their activities, habits, needs and pain points. The other will be the capability to empower customers to drive their own experience. Which means providing them with the tools they require to build and personalize their own customer experience, letting them choose the relevant data they accept to share with us.
The use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence will be key then, to process, analyse and use this relevant data. At Orange, we already use these technologies to improve the quality of our services, as it allows us to optimize network coverage where it counts for our customers.
ORANGE’S DIGITAL PHILOSOPHIETHE HUMAN INSIDE
How does Orange plan to lead the digital transformation?
Our digital innovation philosophy, which we call ‘Human inside’, resides around two key pre-requisites: ‘My innovation is useful and of value to my customers’ and ‘My innovation is useful to the collective, to as many of my customers as possible, so that it represents a real progress’.
In addition, we give ourselves the objective to be as close to our customers as possible, so we can enable their own digital transformation in a very personalized and humane manner.
What are the key success factors in this evolving digital world?
Let’s focus on one of them which is key: diversity. I think that ensuring diversity in the work environment is a colossal battle that we must keep fighting. We are currently building the world of tomorrow which will be composed of 50% women and 50% men of all ages and cultures. I believe our organizations must reflect this diversity as much as possible.
It is therefore crucial for women to get trained now in the new professions around digital technologies. If we don’t allow them to take their place and play a role in defining what our future looks like, the world of tomorrow will not reflect the rich diversity of human kind. This is also true when it comes to fostering diversity in terms of age and culture.
We will only create a successful digital future for our society by working together: together we can achieve anything.
Isabelle Paradis, President of HOT TELECOM is an international telecoms expert, with over 23 years working experience in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.
HOT TELECOM has been serving global operators, governments, equipment vendors and telecom investors for over 13 years, providing leading edge market research and consulting services to industry leaders around the globe.
For more information on our HOT INTERVIEWS program, please contact Isabelle Paradis at: email@example.com or at +1 514 270 1636