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Climbing the transformation mountain

Business and Enterprise

Posted on March 14, 2019

2 min read

Two years have passed since someone suggested to me to work with them on transforming Telstra’s B2B business. In those two years, we have been on an amazing journey of understanding what it means to perform a heart and lung transplant on a patient running a marathon while also leading the pack.

In two years, we have not only established a set of end-to-end integrated systems, from product definition to customer billing, we have also launched what is one of Telstra’s most holistic offers to market as a true paperless proposition –it has been awesome to see the positive impacts to our customers and partners.

To many of the team, delivering all of these aspects in our transformation program has felt like we have climbed a mountain. That said, we have a long way still to go to realise the scale of change that will ensure a sustainable change for the business.

There have been many examples of change that our transformation program is bringing, including the automatic flow of information between systems without any human intervention. This might seem obvious, but any business or IT person involved in managing system handoffs will appreciate that it’s these integrations that are the hardest. Hearing from one of the team how data is now populating automatically between systems without any need to request it is music to my ears.

Digital transformation needs to guide a business to actually change the way it works - the support of all of these new capabilities will be the real validation of a sustainable change

One of our key realisations is that while a digital transformation is enabled by software, it is very much a business transformation and not just a technology transformation.  Digital transformation needs to guide a business to actually change the way it works – the support of all of these new capabilities will be the real validation of a sustainable change.

This was reiterated by Telstra’s recent Disruptive Decision-Making report, which found across the globe businesses are too focused on the role of technology in digital transformation programs.

Transformation does not mean only internal business change, but also change in the way a business engages with its customers. It is interesting to see the way we embrace digital interactions for our personal needs, but when it comes to businesses, we are more comfortable in using traditional channels of calling or emailing someone from a service desk. It has been inspiring to see what teams have achieved in the past two years in building our first native business app, co-developed with customers to realise a new digital-first strategy to serve their customers.


Why on earth am I talking about these achievements, though?

Simply put, for us, these achievements were more of a realisation that we tend to be so focused on what is next that we don’t pause to learn from what we have achieved, struggled with, or missed delivering.

It is very easy to forget about accomplishments to date as we reflect on how far we still have to go. Recognising these outcomes both within our program and in the broader organisation are important – it highlights that progress is being made toward the top of the mountain, and acknowledging and reviewing progress, ensures continual learning and improvement as we move closer to the summit.

As we start with the next phase of our climb, there are three key challenges that now arise: scale, customer migrations, and data.

  1. Scale in the form of ensuring the majority of the business’s transactions to support B2B customers are enabled on a new digital stack. Without this volume of transactions, the efficiencies targeted to be realised through this new capability won’t materialise. The work to date has demonstrated the scale of change that is possible, but our business won’t feel it until volumes are reached that result in true business change.
  2. Customer migration might sound obvious, but when a business engages with its customers in a certain way for a long period of time, introducing a new way of working can be disruptive – collaborating on that journey with customers to understand the value of the change for their businesses is critical.
  3. Data is the most critical element of any transformation program. I always find it interesting when people talk about data scientists or big data, but for me personally, I would just be happy with a single source of data that ensures our teams are not having to double or even triple check that data between systems is consistent. As we learned with our first orders, without accurate data we create unnecessary work for ourselves and we lose the value from the integrated systems we have established.

Businesswomen talking in office


On the flipside, where we know data is accurate, teams can quickly focus on high-value tasks with customers. Workflows can become highly automated from opportunity through to in-life service management, driving efficiency to levels previously not seen.

Of course this is in the future – to achieve these next wave of outcomes we need to climb this mountain, bring all of our people, partners and customers into this new world of integrated and digitised capabilities.

Sometimes that new world can seem challenging given how high we need to climb, but it is the diversity and strengths of a team that can achieve the outcomes a business is looking for – just like those climbing the highest mountains. With the right team in place, any peak is possible.

Nathan first published this blog on LinkedIn