France Telecom-Orange in 2011, Stéphane Richard and “Conquests 2015”

By Robert Burgelman, Debra Schifrin
2011 | Case No. SM194
This case picks up where the previous Stanford Graduate School of Business case “France Telecom in 2010” (SM186) left off. Stéphane Richard has taken over as chairman and CEO of France Telecom-Orange and was facing intense competition from other incumbent European telecommunication companies, new French telecoms and so called “over-the-top” companies such as Google and Apple. At the same time, France Telecom-Orange was seeing a global explosion of mobile data traffic, which required the company to build new networks to meet this growing demand. France Telecom-Orange was assessing how to convince customers accustomed to having unlimited data plans to pay more for increased usage in order to help offset these new costs. The same was true for getting the internet giants to help pay for network building – a contentious issue called net neutrality Soon after becoming CEO, Richard launched the strategic plan “Conquests 2015,” which was developed through parallel bottom-up and top-down approaches. The plan included hiring 10,000 new employees by 2012 and deploying a new €2 billion fiber optic network in France. The plan’s goals were also to improve customer service, increase the customer base from 200 million to 300 million in four years, and double international sales by 2015. Lastly, it addressed the need for changes in human resources and employee management methods following the rash of suicides at France Telecom-Orange between 2008 and 2010. Richard brought together the five major European telecoms for monthly meetings to discuss industry-level common interests, agree on technical and functional standards, and present a united front to other competitors and European regulators. France Telecom-Orange also was making changes in its approach to innovation in new products, marketing and sales. One critical area of innovation for the company was Near Field Communications, which enabled customers to pay for products and services through mobile devices. Also see SM186 France Telecom in 2010.
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