Enterprises need a new infrastructure to support the digital economy.

So said Ben Verwaayen, the CEO in charge of the French networking giant Alcatel Lucent, who used his keynote speech during this week's Dynamic Enterprise forum in Paris, to point out the two crises the world is currently facing. "The first (shorter-term) crisis is the economic crisis, and then there is the longer-term looming crisis of climate change," he warned.

He said that what the two crises have in common, is that a possible solution can come from the growth of the digital or knowledge-based economy.

"The digital economy brings together the ability to do things," he said. "You need infrastructure for this digital economy," before pointing out that a shift towards all-IP networks and software as a service (SaaS) lies at the heart of this new approach."

He urged businesses to view this scenario as an opportunity to reshape their companies and processes and build a new digitally-enabled future.

"Creating an infrastructure that allows people to contribute and collaborate quickly and seamlessly without impacting negatively on the climate, can create real value for the company and drive innovation," he told delegates.

"We need to take positive action," he said. "It is not a physical world now, it is a digital world. We are not rebuilding what was in the past, we are going to rebuild for the future. It is not about next gadget or footprint. It is about what people value." He pointed to a recent survey that found that the first luxury people were prepared to give up was their sofa. The last thing they were prepared to give up was their access to the internet.

Verwaayen joined Alcatel-Lucent in September last year and has sought to reinvigorate the company as it seeks to take on networking goliath Cisco with a more rounded and complete product portfolio. He described the "buzz in the organisation as very positive, with new exciting plans going forward."

"We have the financial capability, we took action on the balance sheet, we are spending wisely, and we have an amazing pipeline." He pointed to Alcatel-Lucent's "fantastic R&D" capabilities in France and Italy.

His comments echoed his keynote at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, where he said stimulus packages that are being put in place in response to the global financial crisis are overly focused on physical infrastructure, and not the digital agenda.

"We know what we have to do, we know we have to work very hard this year to show what the digital economy can give back to the organisation," he said. "We have great capabilities in the software business that can contribute to the enterprise."