The art of talking business

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We may live a 24/7 virtually connected existence, but building real relationships with real people in the real world is still fundamental to business success.

There are many ways to do business. If you just focus on shifting product, your business ends up being commoditized. Technology is no different: while there are a few that have the infrastructure to be “price fighters”, the majority of technology players need to be able to understand business and come up with business solutions to meet diverse challenges.

In retail, for example, smart shop retailers are continually looking at how they can get their customers to buy more from them. The answer may be a camera in the shop that understands people’s gender and age as well as their moods as they enter and recommends products based on if they are happy or sad. This would give the retailer a real competitive edge. This technology may not be available just yet, but it may well appear in the future as facial recognition technologies and neural networks are progressing fast. I think it puts into perspective what I am saying.

Look at vertical markets, for example. Here the same solutions and ecosystems can be applied in different industries, such as transport, logistics, financial, manufacturing and oil and gas, all built on key digital enablers – cloud, security and connectivity. Fleet management systems, for example, are enabling fleet managers to optimize routes in real-time, improve vehicle utilization and automatically track drivers’ hours. In manufacturing, the Internet of Things (IoT) can give production line managers real-time data on goods that may be faulty or damaged.

This end-to- end vision helps create new ways of working with various industries. To achieve this we take time to understand the way particular industries work and do business and adapt to their needs Yet again this centers round talking business!

Buying in understanding

Our customers come to us because they don’t have sufficient expertise in-house to experiment and innovate. They need an integrator that truly understands their business ecosystem and can make it as agile and efficient as possible. One that is global with a local presence.

Here at Orange we have the economies of scale and have invested more than €700 million in research and development. We have 15 labs in countries across four continents, backed by a team of 8,000 researchers, technicians, designers and marketers. This provides the experience, know-how and knowledge our customers seek.

In my region, we are focused on business consultancy. Why? Because like many other enterprises around the world, customers don’t want to talk technical, they want to talk about their business goals and the best ways of reaching them. Every company out there wants to increase revenues and
decrease expenses. They want to know how we can help them do that without taking a deep dive into the technology.

Instead of just selling a technology solution, we look at how we can take their business to the next level. We help them with compliance and understand the pitfalls of local legislation, which is a complex undertaking in the jurisdictions in which my teams operate.

Looking at the options

As human beings, we tend to base our solutions on what we know, but we need to think out of the box and beware confirmation bias. There is more than one route to reaching our goals and my teams pride themselves on being able to offer compelling solutions customers haven’t thought of themselves.

The big take away is that it is key to talk business today. A case in point: recently I was on a business trip to St Petersburg and didn’t take my technical director. Instead I took my marketing director, who understands the telecoms industry, but is not an engineer and we met with the CEO, not the CIO. We talked about the customer experience, not the nuts and bolts of the technology.

Technology can play a key role in differentiating enterprises from their competition and be a revenue driver. Enterprises want to discuss the benefits of doing digital business. You may think this sounds like traditional IT consultancy, but there is a very big difference. Traditional consultants bring
the words, whereas we bring the words and the deeds.

Enterprises don’t want to go half way down the road to digital transformation, only to realize their strategy doesn’t work and start again. Here, we create partnerships and provide solutions backed by key performance indicators (KPI). Our consultancy is one of commitment.

Find out more about how you can plan your journey to digital transformation here.

Richard Van Wageningen

Richard van Wageningen was appointed CEO of Orange Business Services in Russia and CIS by the Board of directors in September, 2013. Starting January 2017, he was appointed as head of newly formed IMEAR (Indirect, Middle East, Africa and Russia) macro region, while retaining his previous position.

Richard van Wageningen brings extensive leadership experience in both the IT and telecommunications industries – both in services and equipment manufacturing companies. Having started his career with AT&T in Russia, Richard assumed leading positions in Lucent Technologies in Saudi Arabia, Portugal and the Netherlands.

Richard returned to Russia in 2005 to head the Russian operations of British Telecom. From 2010, Richard van Wageningen led Linxdatacenter in Russia as CEO. Richard graduated from Groningen State Polytechnics, the Netherlands and the University of North Carolina, USA. Richard has lived in Russia for more than 10 years and speaks fluent Russian.