With its planned acquisition of data and digital services firm Business & Decision, Orange Business underscores the increased importance -- and recognition -- of the value these capabilities bring to broadband providers.
Orange will pay about $69.7 million for 67% of Business & Decision (B&D), which has about 2,500 employees in France and other parts of the world. The company develops business intelligence and customer relationship management software, which Orange Business Services (OBS) said complement its enterprise focus.
Service providers increasingly view analytics, BI and big data as new business opportunities, enabled in large part by broadband infrastructure investments and relationships with enterprise customers. (See CSPs Well-Placed to Manage Enterprises' Digital Solutions.)
"We think that operators are probably in the grand ballpark of utilizing analytics. Clearly there are leaders and laggards, but in terms of an industry, we can't say that telecom is ahead of Internet-players," said Bela Virag, partner at Arthur D. Little , in an April interview with UBB2020. "But we can say that telecom operators are ahead of financial services, healthcare, travel and transport and many other industries."
The acquisition -- expected to finalize in the third quarter of this year -- is part of Orange's development strategy to position itself as an international provider of digital transformation and data services solutions and services, the CSP said in a release on Thursday. The move will expand OBS' presence both geographically and through the number of on-staff experts, the company said.
"As a global communications solutions provider, we at Orange Business Services already have strong expertise in data management and analysis for our multinational customers. This acquisition of Business & Decision, with a presence in 12 countries, enables us to grow at greater speed, and size really matters in order to be trusted as a global player in data analytics," Thierry Bonhomme, CEO of OBS, told UBB2020 via email.
Building on its investment in ultra-broadband networks that support Orange Business Services' Internet of Things, cloud, cybersecurity and application-development offerings, the acquisition will expand the CSP's analytics and digital transformation offerings to both companies' customers, according to OBS.
Disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud and analytics will "transform how organizations function and what they are capable of doing. Furthermore, the lower cost for hardware, connectivity and processing, in particular, will lower barriers to entry, thereby increasing competition and customer choice," wrote Light Reading sister company Ovum in "Digital Economy 2025: Technology Outlook."
By offering an array of services that depend on ultra-fast, low-latency network capabilities for performance, OBS is banking on becoming enterprises' partner for a gamut of digital transformation and analytics or big data solutions. Since it's already connecting users and offices, securing and transmitting sensitive data, it's a natural segue to then entrust data-related services to OBS, the CSP expects.
"We are convinced that the combination of Business & Decision's expertise in data and business intelligence and our dual know-how as an operator and service integrator will be a key lever that will enable us to accelerate the digital transformation of our enterprise customers and stimulate growth," said Bonhomme.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.