Can't say we didn't see it coming. You could point to former Microsoft Executive Stephen Elop's appointment as Nokia's new CEO in September as the beginning of a major transition for the Finnish mobile manufacturer, but things had been in disarray for the struggling company for long before then. The blockbuster strategic partnership with Microsoft to provide Windows Phone 7 software on Nokia devices has been labeled by some as a Hail Mary pass for the company, with major implications for Symbian and its employees. And while we won't know what kind of effect all the changes will have on Nokia's bottom line, we're starting to see some major changes to its workforce.
Today, Nokia announced another "strategic collaboration" -- this time with the technology services and outsourcing company Accenture. The deal would outsource Nokia's Symbian activities to Accenture, including the 3,000 employees who work on it. In addition, Accenture would provide "mobility software services" to Nokia on its future smartphones.
"This collaboration demonstrates our ongoing commitment to enhance our Symbian offering and serve our smartphone customers," said Jo Harlow, executive vice president for Smart Devices for Nokia said in a press release. "As we move our primary smartphone platform to Windows Phone, this transition of skilled talent to Accenture shows our commitment to provide our Symbian employees with potential new career opportunities."
This won't be the first time that the two companies worked together. They've been involved with one another, on some level, since 1994. Their partnership ramped up in October 2009, though, when Accenture acquired Nokia's professional services unit that provided support of Symbian to mobile manufacturers and other service providers.
And while the 3,000 employees moving to Accenture will continue to work, another 4,000 employees will suffer a less rosy fate. In another announcement today, Nokia unveiled plans to begin consolidating its site operations to reduce operating expenses in Devices & Services by 1 billion euros (nearly $1.5B) for 2013 compared to 2010. This plan includes reducing Nokia's global workforce by around 4,000 employees by the end of next year. Most of the employee losses will occur in Denmark, Finland, and the U.K.
The personnel reductions will occur in phases through 2012, during which time Nokia will work on ramping up its Windows Phone 7 portfolio. According to the release, all employees affected by the layoffs will be allowed to stay on Nokia's payroll through the end of this year. Discussion with employee representatives has already begun, as mandated by country-by-country legal requirements.
"At Nokia, we have new clarity around our path forward, which is focused on our leadership across smart devices, mobile phones and future disruptions," Elop said in the press release. "However, with this new focus, we also will face reductions in our workforce. This is a difficult reality, and we are working closely with our employees and partners to identify long-term re-employment programs for the talented people of Nokia," adding that Nokia would be offering affected employees retraining and re-employment support.In addition to the layoffs, Nokia will also be consolidating its research and product development sites. With clearly defined missions, some sites will expand, while many will face closure and downsizing.