commentary After spending years allowing a multitude of information technology (IT) platforms and systems -- and customised code -- to gain root within its business, Telstra this week finally drew a line in the sand. Consolidation, flexibility and fleet-footedness is the mantra for IT under the new executive team's sweeping review and planned path forward for the carrier, revealed this week.
commentary After spending years allowing a multitude of information
technology (IT) platforms and systems -- and customised code -- to gain root within its business,
Telstra this week finally drew a line in the sand.
Consolidation, flexibility and fleet-footedness is the mantra
for IT under the new executive team's sweeping review and planned
path forward for the carrier, revealed this week.
The existing IT setup -- whereby data is held across multiple
systems, severely restricting the carrier's ability to manage its own operations, deliver
customer service and obtain a single view of its customers -- is poised for
a radical transformation.
The telecommunications heavyweight is slashing by 75 percent
its 1,200-odd business and operational support systems and
network platforms by 60 percent from 334 over the next
It has also committed to using only off-the-shelf software
products, with customisation now a dirty word.
All aspects of IT are coming in for close scrutiny, with
Telstra's operations boss, Greg Winn, also flagging possible
changes to its existing outsourcing arrangements. While
"substantial portions" of Telstra's IT will remain outsourced, he
told a briefing yesterday, "we will have more of an inclination
where we need to have intellectual property that's key to running
the business, to have it closer to the business or inside the
business versus outside".
Winn made his overall thoughts about the state of the
telecommunications carrier's systems crystal clear at the
briefing. And for the company's previous chief information
officers -- including Jeff Smith -- they were not very
Remarking that if it wasn't politically incorrect to do so, he
would describe the current IT situation at Telstra as "the root
of all evil in the telco industry," Winn then proceeded to put
developers on notice.
"…the first software developer code writer that even
attempts to modify a piece of software will be doing something
else for a living, hopefully working for one of our competitors
and screwing up their IT platforms".
Success in decommissioning systems is going to be front and
centre of Telstra IT's performance measurement, Winn noted. "We
have a clear path as to how we are going to take [the systems]
out and I am going to measure people on how we decommission".
Winn knows how crucial it is that Telstra gets the IT project
right. As general manager of operations in the Telstra program
office, John McInerney, said yesterday, the "velocity of change"
planned for the carrier over the next five years requires support
from IT even as the area undergoes its own transformation. As
widely reported this week, that change is immense - including
development of a next-generation IP network, a national 3G GSM
network and the abolition of some 12,000 full-time equivalent
However, Telstra is not alone in looking to consolidation as
key to boosting its IT operations.
According to the preliminary results of a Gartner survey
released this week, consolidation has come from virtually nowhere
to become one of the top three priorities for IT executives in
the Asia-Pacific next year.
Businesses are calling on their IT departments to enhance
their contribution to the business without necessarily giving
them big budgets to spend on new projects.
There should be a lot of large organisations in the region
looking at Telstra's plans and seeing what lessons and benefits
are there for their own consolidation programs. Of course, the
proof for Telstra -- as with all companies -- is in the
Nice plan -- can Telstra execute? Is consolidation a way of delivering real value back to any business? -- E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and give us your thoughts.
Iain Ferguson is the News Editor of ZDNet