Stephen Reidy, CIO, THREE Ireland, explains how customers were at the center of his company’s integration of the O2 business it acquired in 2014 – a key part of its overall digital transformation*.
When THREE Ireland acquired O2 in 2014, we did not have a single channel or system in common. The first thing we did was rebrand and drop the O2 name. This was a considerable effort of engineering, as every customer channel and touchpoint identified which one they were using. So we rebranded them all to look like the same thing, but it was still two IT stacks.
Further, the O2 IT stack was complex, with systems at the end of their useful life, which made them expensive to run and increased the cost and time to market for propositions. There was a strong business need to consolidate to a single IT stack, and at the same time the synergies achieved by the consolidation supported our digital transformation initiative.
Technology is a key factor in speeding up digital transformation. However, for technology to deliver on the digital promise, it must be open and dynamically manageable, standards-based, scalable in capability and architecture, accessible, interoperable, and data-intelligent. We are taking a phased approach to achieve stability (see top of graphic below).
The top left of the graphic shows the channels, which are personalized and contextual. They know what you did last, which channels you prefer and provide a consistent experience. We use Amdocs Digital Intelligence Platform to get a 360-degree view of and real insight into what customers are doing, how and when (see bottom of graphic above).
We will be able to plug in partners going forward, with new innovations and create a marketplace and great customer experience. We will create an ecosystem to do all this. At the moment, we’ve still got the traditional multi-channel approach to customer experience, which means if you move from one channel to another, you have to start again. There are also technology silos across the channels too, but we are on track to move to true omnichannel experience; we need to know where you came through on your journey and what you’ve done previously.
We also have lots of product catalogs and have to configure each one. There is a lot of testing and deployment; we want to move to one enterprise catalog to do stuff faster, be more agile and decrease time to market. This is where the huge benefit is.
Working on processes in parallel
This is not just about technology, but how you deliver it and bring the organization with you – going from the top down, looking at business processes with Amdocs to see how this is going to work. We’re looking at how the business will run and operate, starting with customer journeys to do it in a very agile way. We can do it as we go if we agree on a process, then automatically go on to design and test it while working on other processes at the same time.
We have a lot of discipline and focus, and a common vision of what we need to achieve. We are doing pretty well, but still have some way to go. There is a lot of energy and focus around governance so that the delivery is very clean all the way through. Energy and focus are needed to deliver to the plan: External influences put pressure on this, for example, budget or the competition does something that distracts from transformation.
It has to be done at speed with focus including the authenticating the technology design and architecture, so what we build is modular and scalable. We have a design authority looking at processes and design so that customer experience will be correct. The business transformation team is making key decisions so it’s not rocket science, just steady focus on the plan and outcome, to make sure that what’s right for the company is right for the customer and vice versa.
There are many challenges
Getting business to work in an agile way is hard, and you have to make decisions quickly – and you’re going to have to live with them for a long time. Business processes are often designed around legacy constraints, and we need to let that go and focus on what’s possible with new technology and new ways of thinking.
The 80/20 rule applies: We are not looking to customize and make everything specific to us. We must stick to being cloud-based as much as possible, so long as it works for our business. We need to avoid being constrained by customization as it inhibits upgrades when new stuff comes along, but to still allow for differentiation, minimal customization is OK.
There has to be a lot of top-down support and excellence in delivery because this is NOT IT transformation, but a business transformation with IT as a key enabler. We ask ourselves what does a telco bring to the table? The relationship with customers, one bill regardless of services, customer insight through data – if we can exploit those assets and create opportunities, then telcos will have a big role in digital future.
How do you ensure you only customize to differentiate?
Often with transformation the development work is away from the day to day – a team is taken out for two years and then the plan is delivered on two years later. But as the wider organization was not involved or engaged, much of that work is diluted.
We take leaders out for a while, but put them back into day to day operations, so what they are designing is what they will have to live with. If changing something won’t drive any incremental value, we leave it as-is and move on. When you customize it costs more.
How will agile execution help deliver new services?
As we progress through the transformation, by definition we would have to build our model. You have to change how you operate when investing like this – it’s not an if. By the time we get to the other end, the business will have got used to working in that way. It largely depends on how agile the processes are. Many changes that happen now are to drive new revenues and customer experience. You don’t aim for incremental change with big engineering.
What lessons were learned from your experience?
You need the right tools to manage modeling, but mindset change is needed not just in the IT function, but in the business. You must bring the business stakeholders with you. There’s a lot of trial and error too.
Is this IT transformation or digitization?
I don’t see the difference – it’s business driven.
* This article is based on Stephen’s presentation at the Executive Summit at TM Forum Live! in Nice, with questions from the audience at the end.