Nokia’s Chief Marketing Officer has said the company must perform this year as the vendor marks the first anniversary of its merger with Alcatel Lucent.

The Finland-based vendor spent much of 2016 integrating its France-based former rival and starting joint operations.

Writing a blog on Nokia’s website, CMO Barry French said the company had achieved this “in a very challenging market with competitors itching to exploit any signs of weakness”.

More widely, he said the deal had gone through “much faster than with previous acquisitions”, and in a country “where large-scale, foreign-led M&A was seen as nigh impossible”.

But with Nokia’s financial performance suffering in the first nine months of last year, the exec admitted that the company now needed to up its game.

The vendor saw like-for-like sales decline nine percent year-on-year between January and September 2016, while operating profit plummeted 23 percent.

CFO Timo Ihamuotila quit in November as its third quarter results were released.

French said: “As we start 2017, we face a market that we’ve said will be demanding, and after a year of integration investors now want to see performance, not excuses.”

The company, which acquired network analytics firm Deepfield, cable tech company Gainspeed and digital healthcare company Withings last year, unveiled a new growth strategy in November.

This included a promise to focus on energy, transportation and the public sector as the telecoms industry looks set to offer limited opportunities.

French said: “We see the possibility to become a large and strong software player.”

He added: “Our Technologies business has great possibilities in digital media and digital health, as well as in patent and technology licensing.”

Nokia also plans to deliver €1.2 billion in cost savings by the end of next year.

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