Telstra exec: Thodey as aggressive as Sol

Announcing a new mobile fleet management product with Microsoft today, Telstra general manager product management Ross Fielding said that new Telstra CEO David Thodey went after goals just as aggressively as former CEO Sol Trujillo.

Announcing a new mobile fleet management product with Microsoft today, Telstra general manager product management Ross Fielding said that new Telstra CEO David Thodey went after goals just as aggressively as former CEO Sol Trujillo.

David Thodey (Credit: Telstra)

"It hasn't really affected us, except to say that David is aggressive in terms of going after things as Sol," Fielding said of the management change. "We still have very, very aggressive plans in our business as we've kicked off the new financial year."

Thodey's former position as enterprise and government head for the telco also hadn't really given enterprise products such as the new mobile email solution a leg up, Fielding said.

"It doesn't hurt I would say. But I'll be absolutely frank. I sort of hinted this before. Email and mobilising email is an opportunity for our customers and Telstra. Sol and David were joined at the hip with us in terms of making sure that we went after that opportunity."

The change also hasn't affected the agreement Telstra forged with Microsoft last November, according to Microsoft communications sector director Kevin Brough. "Actually it's been very seamless... We've had some very broad and deep relationships with the executive teams at Telstra prior to Sol leaving and those relationships have remained consistent since he's left," he said.

Telstra and Microsoft have utilised their partnership to create a new fleet management offering that it says will be easy for end users to jump onto, taking pressure off IT teams, while giving enterprises price certainty for mail costs. The product launches next week.

Microsoft will provide support so that the connections from the exchange server through the Telstra network to the device is seamless, according to the companies.

"From an end user view, the devices are preconfigured so it's really server password and you're away. If it's not this I've got to put in APNs and start to muck about with the device," Telstra's Fielding said.

The first offering was an ActiveSync email-only plan with phone fleet management starting at $39.95 per user per month. This includes unlimited email, yet there's only 100MB of data. For larger data offerings, the normal Telstra data plans applied.

They also unveiled a mobile services plan with System Center Mobile Device Manager management and VPN capabilities starting at $49.95 per month.

"You get help desk, but you also get the opportunity to over-the-air upgrade," Fielding said. There was also security management such as remote locking and wiping. "To many, many enterprises that will prove to be a valuable function," he said.

Fielding acknowledged that many organisations could do this in-house. "It gives the enterprise the opportunity to take away some of their costs," Fielding said. "Some of them will be doing it with manual workarounds whereas this really is much, much simpler and it's already included.

"Customers can always do things themselves if they want to put even more time and effort into it."

At this point, the easy user experience will be limited to the HTC Touch Pro2 and HTC Touch HD, with plans to widen this to six devices in September and 10 in November. In theory, any device that supports ActiveSync could at some point also become a part of the offering, Fielding said.

"It's not going to be the same," Brough said. "We think it's going to be much richer on a Windows Mobile device."