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Jan 16 2017

One year of ‘day one’

This blog is by Barry French, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at NokiaTwitter: @bhfrench

Moments of reflection about one’s achievements are, in my opinion, never a bad thing. As long as you’re not driven by hubris or nostalgia, taking stock of where you are and where you’ve been always gives you the proper grounding you need, not least when you’re on the cusp of The Next Big Challenge.

Thus, I recently surprised myself a little by noting that I have now been with Nokia for 10 years. My original remit was to lead communications for Nokia Networks, the part of what was then a devices-focused company that seemed more than a little unfashionable. But things would change quickly.

What followed was a decade of steady, and sometimes precipitous, change: the announcement and execution of the Nokia Siemens Networks merger; the decision to radically refocus NSN’s business on mobile broadband and services; Nokia’s divestment of its devices and mapping businesses; and the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. The last few years alone have contained more changes for Nokia than many companies see over many decades. Or more.

Amid all this change I think our acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent, which we’re marking the one-year anniversary of today, may well be the most important event to date. Within roughly a year and a half we:

  • Unveiled the deal
  • Received all regulatory and shareholder approvals
  • Started joint operations
  • Sealed 100% ownership of Alcatel-Lucent

We did all this much faster than with previous acquisitions, in a very challenging market with competitors itching to exploit any signs of weakness, and in a country (France) where large-scale, foreign-led M&A was seen as nigh impossible. Today, our people are working closely together as if they have always been one team. Quiet, confident collaboration. Open, constructive discussions. These things are important, and in Nokia, they are happening all the time.

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. It will not be easy, but we are ready. We are well positioned across all the segments in which we compete. We are the market leaders in LTE, and will use that leadership to carve out our place in 5G. Our fixed business has given us the balance we needed – and that our customers demanded. Our innovation abilities are second-to-none, powered by Nokia Bell Labs and roughly 40,000 engineers across the company. In November, we targeted new opportunities in markets adjacent to our core service providers like energy, transportation, public sector and webscale. We see the possibility to become a large and strong software player. And our Technologies business has great possibilities in digital media and digital health, as well as in patent and technology licensing.

If 2016 was a year of integration, 2017 must be a year of performance. The market will bring challenges, but we face them with a Networks business that is far stronger than Nokia or Alcatel-Lucent could have been on their own. It’s precisely this confidence that underpins our celebration today of one year of ‘day one’ as a combined company, a deserved moment of reflection before we move on to tackle the opportunities of 2017.

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About Barry French

Barry French is Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Nokia. Areas of responsibilities include: heading marketing, communications, industry analyst and government relations, regulatory affairs, and corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Tweet me @bhfrench