Orange invests EUR1.5 billion to train staff, but goes soft on engagement skills

After its Essentials 2020 programme was deemed a success, Orange recently announced its five-year Engage 2025 strategy, which the company believes will cut costs by EUR1 billion by 2023.
The stated aim of the strategy is to:

  • “reinvent Orange’s operator model”
  • “accelerate in growth areas”
  • “place data and AI at the heart of its innovation model”
  • “build the company of tomorrow”.

As part of this new strategy, Orange have committed more than EUR1.5 billion to retrain all employees across the group, pledging to strengthen expertise in targeted growth areas – such as virtualisation, AI, cloud computing, code and cybersecurity. Orange says it will develop the use and knowledge of data, AI and cybersecurity across all its business lines and will double the number of staff in these areas to 20,000. All employees will be trained in relevant skills in these three fields and offered the opportunity to develop soft skills covering areas such as communication, networking and decision making.
To deliver against these plans, it will open its Orange Campus online school, which was previously exclusively used to train managers, to all current and future employees. Some training will lead to certification and diplomas, with further training to be undertaken with customer service technicians, cloud and cybersecurity engineers, and data analysts at a new apprentice training centre.
Omnisperience recognises the investments that B2B service providers are making to increase employees’ capabilities in areas that they believe will give them an edge and accelerate digital inclusion. The compulsory training across data, AI and cybersecurity is commendable, but creating an opt-in scenario for soft skills in areas that are critical to customer experience seems to betray a misguided belief that technology alone will create the basis for growth and customer retention.
Executive director of human resources Valerie Le Boulanger said: “We believe that Orange’s sustainable transformation will depend on each and everyone’s ability to learn in new ways and to share their knowledge and expertise, and that the combination of technical and soft skills is one of the keys to our future success.”
Orange needs to recognise that technology alone is not the answer to digital evolution. Unless Orange covers all their customer engagements using AI chatbots that can recognise voice biometrics to challenge fraudulent actors, excellent and human-based customer engagement will still represent the major contributing factor to customer retention, data privacy and business growth up to and beyond 2025.