The Chief Executive of Orange Business Services has admitted a return to revenue growth is likely to be at least five years away. 

Speaking at an event in Paris outlining his vision for OBS, Thierry Bonhomme said reversing the current decline will not happen next year “for sure” and could even take as long as 15 years to change.

Despite sales of new services such as M2M and digital applications recording double digit growth, the lag remains mainly due to the falling price of legacy communications services, which still form the bulk of the company’s turnover.

According to its most recent financial results, OBS saw revenues decline 3.1 percent to €3.1 billion in the first six months of this year.

Bonhomme said his company “was not born digital” but claimed OBS is now a digital company today.

He is focusing the business on five key areas – security, mobility, business performance apps, connectivity and cloud infrastructure – in an attempt to turn OBS round to become a trusted partner for large corporates and multinationals.

The CEO cited recent contract wins from BW Offshore, to which it is providing satellite comms, and Japan Tobacco International, for whom it is delivering a unfied comms solution, as examples that it is still doing big deals.

But he sees an opportunity in helping companies transform themselves to become digital businesses.

European Communications was taken on a tour of a new shop owned by French electrical retailer Darty, which contracted OBS to help improve synergies between its physical stores and websites.

OBS has created new wired and Wi-Fi networks in store and managed the deployment of 4,000 tablets to sales staff.

Customers can now be guided through the retailer’s product catalogue with real-time pricing on a range of screens in store as well as seeing the products “live”.

Darty e-commerce Director Olivier Godart said OBS was one of only two suppliers who met the brief and that the relationship had developed from initial discussions around delivering technical solutions to involving OBS in defining its new digital business model.

With the successful launch of Darty’s flagship store, OBS is now rolling out the programme across the retailer’s entire portfolio of shops.

Bonhomme said he views the consulting role that OBS provides to help business become more digital as increasingly important. He said OBS Consulting is now 400 staff strong and working on “concrete solutions” for a wide range of verticals.

This backs up findings from European Communications' second annual research project into the enterprise market for telcos. It found educating businesses about the digital solutions available to them was one of the biggest challenges they face.

In addition, OBS created an Orange Apps for Business division one year ago to develop new products in the contact centre as-a-service, big data and IoT fields.

The CEO said the new arm already had 11,000 customers and a turnover of €300 million. Though small, Bonhomme is trusting this will lead his company back to growth in the medium term.​

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