Orange Business sets out its GenAI stall

  • Orange is looking to develop new business opportunities around demand for generative AI (GenAI) applications 
  • Its business arm has launched two GenAI offerings for enterprise users
  • The move is part of the telco’s goal to be “a trusted player in the AI industry”, states Orange Business CEO

Orange Business, the enterprise services arm of the international telco giant, is on a mission to develop and provision more innovative solutions in an effort to turn around the unit’s financial fortunes, and now it has taken the wraps off two GenAI solutions designed to help French businesses embrace the potential of the emerging technology. 

One of the solutions, a GPU (graphics processing unit)-as-a-service, encompasses an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) component, while the other offers GenAI applications via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform: Orange Business claims it is the “first on the market to cover the entire lifecycle of trusted GenAI solutions, from ideation to maintenance”.

The GPU-as-a-service offering is targeted at customers that require “complete control” over the infrastructure that can host all types of GenAI projects. Orange provides dedicated GPU hardware to let businesses deploy their own large language models (LLMs) with a partner of their choice. Described as highly customisable, the solution is said to address two main use cases: Training of complex models that require significant computing power through fine-tuning and specialisation activities powered by servers equipped with “ultra-high-performance GPUs”; and inference for large-scale GenAI projects, as customers have access to a dedicated infrastructure to deploy their models for a large number of users.

For the development of the SaaS offering, Orange Business has partnered with LightOn, a French startup providing LLMs and “intuitive” business interfaces. The “ready-to-use” solution can adapt to a wide array of use cases, such as document management, reporting and content generation. The telco added that it is “unique to the market”, can be tailored to various organisations by integrating specific document databases and can ensure “a very low error rate”.

The SaaS GenAI offering is entirely managed by Orange Business and is designed for enterprises of all sizes.

Both solutions are hosted in Orange’s datacentres in France, on its Cloud Avenue platform, and are operated by Orange Business which, according to the company, ensures “full control over data and cost”.

It is arguably a crucial time for Orange Business to prove it can deliver innovative and attractive new solutions as enterprises embrace digital solutions and GenAI in particular, especially given the unit’s recent financial performance. In 2023, its revenue was almost flat, growing by a mere 0.2% year on year to €7.9bn.

The business division has been striving to overhaul its strategy after suffering a major blow in the first half of 2022 when its operating profit sank by nearly 50% to €152m. In the second half of the year, the CEO of Orange Business Services (which was later renamed to Orange Business) Aliette Mousnier-Lompré unveiled the operation’s ambition to shift away from core connectivity offerings and focus on IT and integration services – see Orange to go big on digital services to revive ailing enterprise division.

And now, with the launch of these new GenAI solutions, the company aims to provide “differentiated and trusted solutions for diverse business needs, while continuing to be a trusted player in the AI industry,” stated Mousnier-Lompré. The CEO discussed the potential for GenAI in the enterprise services sector during a media briefing in London late last year – see GenAI’s watershed will be 2025 – Orange Business CEO.

- Yanitsa Boyadzhieva, Deputy Editor, TelecomTV

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