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Premium Direct Billing

Telstra News

Posted on March 26, 2018

3 min read

You may have heard today that we ceased providing Premium Direct Billing (PDB) earlier this month, and that we have also reached an agreement with the ACCC in Court proceedings relating to PDB.

We have agreed with the ACCC to jointly submit to the Federal Court that we pay a penalty relating to the management of our PDB service.

Premium Direct Billing enables our mobile customers to buy content such as games, apps or videos from third parties by subscribing or purchasing online and have it charged to their mobile phone bill. These services had been introduced by a number of mobile providers to give customers a convenient way of charging certain types of online services to their phone bill.

A large proportion of customers who decided to subscribe to a service were happy with it, however the number of complaints received over time shows there were issues with the PDB service that needed to be addressed.

I want to apologise to any customer who has been charged under our Premium Direct Billing service unexpectedly for these subscription content services and to those who may have experienced difficulty when trying to opt out from them.

And I acknowledge that customers may have raised concerns and I understand that the steps we took over the years in response were not effective and put in place fast enough. We did not get this right, and I apologise.

Following our decision to stop providing new subscription based services in December, from earlier this month we completely exited this service.

PDB services have been recognised as an issue for the broader telecommunications industry – we took a number of steps to improve our processes, but acknowledge we could have done more and done it faster. At Telstra, providing a great customer experience is our top priority and we recognise that our management of this service hasn’t always allowed us to deliver good experiences.

Our number one priority, right now, is working to continue to identify customers who have been impacted through being charged for third party PDB subscriptions, they either didn’t knowingly subscribe to or had tried to opt out of unsuccessfully.

We have a dedicated team working through this and we will commence contacting these customers from next week.

Once we have identified impacted customers, we’ll be proactively reaching out to them, but if you’re concerned about PDB charges on your account you can contact us directly.
Our number one priority is customer experience and the large majority of our customers have a great experience, but we don’t get it right all the time and in cases where we identify issues we will absolutely take the steps to rectify it. In this case, we have committed to identify, contact and offer to refund impacted customers, and we have now completely exited this service.

Background: Premium Direct Billing enables mobile customers to purchase online content such as games, apps and videos from third parties on a subscription or one-off basis by pressing on a subscribe now or purchase now button or similar and to have it charged directly to their mobile bill. We exited this service entirely on 3 March 2018. We will continue to enable customers to purchase some content from third party providers and have it charged directly to their mobile phone bill – more information on these services can be found here.

The 12 fundamentals for project success at Telstra

Advice

Posted on March 5, 2018

5 min read

Each year in our business, around 900 project managers and 170 project sponsors oversee approximately $4.6 billion worth of capital projects around the world.

Despite the diverse nature of the projects carried out across networks, consumer products, small and large businesses and government, there exists a core set of project fundamentals that can lead to successful project outcomes across all our projects. These fundamentals are informed by insights derived from post implementation reviews and key stakeholder interviews across all of our business units.

When understood and used effectively by project sponsors and project managers, these fundamentals can act as both lead indicators for project success and as a code of professional conduct for your project workforce. Furthermore, these fundamentals support our agile ways of working principles, so they can be applied to any sort of delivery method.

The 12 fundamentals are grouped into four categories: Role Clarity, Front End Loading, Experience and Assurance.

Role clarity

Alignment

Alignment is key. Having clarity on what you are setting out to do and having everyone aligned on the business or customer outcome is a key success factor. Ensure that all project team members and stakeholders are aligned to the project objectives, the goals of the project and the values and methods to which the project is being delivered. Stop and check for alignment regularly.

Single point of leadership and accountability for project outcomes

Act as the person accountable to deliver the project outcomes. This includes the ultimate responsibility for decisions on implementation and fulfilling the promises made to seek approval. If you have two sponsors or two project ‘leaders’, fix it – this will erode accountability and will result in people bypassing you for decisions.

Collaborate on Expectations and Goals

Collaborate, clearly outline and communicate expectations and goals to the project team members. You cannot over communicate in a project. Utilise daily stand-ups, floor walks or whatever you need to get expectations and goals in front of the team at all times. Take a pulse check each week – ask “Do I understand what is expected of me this week and why I need to complete it?”

Front end loading

Optimise the Solution

Albert Einstein once said “If I had an hour to save the world, I would first spend 55 minutes defining the problem and only 5 minutes finding the solution.” Too often we are too eager to get started on building something when we don’t yet know what we are trying to solve.

In a rush to build something, we end up delivering a product few people want and have spent far too much money on getting it out the door. After all, the right answer comes from asking better questions. It takes discipline and courage to investigate all possible project options and pursue the most optimised project solution. The most optimised solution ensures the best outcome for Telstra, its customers and minimises waste in delivery.

Adequate Planning

The key word here is adequate. This logically follows from the finding above. Don’t over plan for the phase you are in – undertake only sufficient analysis and planning to meet the phase objectives. Your aim is to achieve a significant level of accuracy and confidence in being able to move forward to the next phase of work. This includes making sure you have the resources allocated to you in order to move to the next phase successfully.

Manage Upwards Effectively

Manage requirements, expectations and perceptions from key business decision makers. Seek guidance on a regular basis from the key business leaders so that you can give confidence and direction to the project team.

Project Management at Telstra

Experience

Consistency and Discipline

Ensure consistency and discipline in keeping all project scope/features, schedule, cost, risk and other information up to date and transparent in systems, dojos, war rooms or any other common environment. The more you share, the smaller the perception that you are forming a moat around your project.

Don’t neglect your stakeholders

Ensure consistent, concise and unambiguous information and communication to stakeholders at all times. This includes producing status reports on a regular basis and to the satisfaction and needs of stakeholders, and inviting them into showcases at every opportunity. You are likely to run into the same stakeholders again on another project, so don’t walk away from your project with a bad reputation.

Applicable project experience

Demonstrate that you have the necessary skills and experience required for the project. This includes knowledge in the delivery way of working and in the product/content itself. If you don’t have it, make sure you obtain it during the project.

Assurance

Independent reviews

Subscribe to independent reviews to tap into knowledge and experience so that the project can benefit from progressing into the next phase with greater confidence. Think of it like servicing your car every 6 months, rather than having to call a tow truck one night. Make the reviews proactive so that they occur in parallel to getting ready to move to the next phase.

Manage Change

Once you have agreed on a set of features or scope for the upcoming cycle or phase, keep changes to a minimum. Manage changes in a disciplined way so that everyone knows there is a proper process and so that the impact to deadlines, budgets and benefits are understood before those changes are carried out.

Manage Risk

Risks are measured uncertainties that could impact your project. At every opportunity, you should assess the risks against your project and make decisions accordingly so that the project is delivered with minimal unmitigated risk events.

Stephen Dubner: Turkeys and why data is useless without experimentation

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 27, 2017

6 min read

In a wide-ranging talk at the 2017 Telstra Vantage conference, opening keynote speaker Stephen Dubner — an acclaimed journalist and co-author of the best-selling book Freakonomics — used stories of poultry farming, hand hygiene compliance in hospitals, and even rat plagues to illustrate the importance of good data and experimentation in an ever-changing business world.

To begin, Dubner pointed out that poultry consumption has vastly increased in Australia and the United States over the past half century. He wondered why, and while researching he learnt that turkey meat is the big riser and that most turkeys bred for consumption are now bred through artificial insemination. Looking deeper, he found that most chickens still breed naturally but turkey consumption habits have changed. Many people now eat turkey breast as part of their ordinary diet, whereas turkey used to be primarily consumed whole on special occasions.

In order to meet demand for turkey breast meat, poultry farmers bred turkeys to have larger breasts. Eventually their breasts became so large that they became physically incapable of breeding naturally — these big-breasted turkeys could not have sex with each other.

This story, Dubner explained, can help illustrate that you need data to understand the world. But data on its own has little use, especially today — when, contrary to 15 years ago, we don’t need more data so much as we need more people who know how to ask the right questions of the data.

In his experience working with businesses, Dubner said that “the people who are most comfortable with data in the firm are often the IT people, [but] the people who most need to unlock the mysteries of that data are in different departments”. Those two groups don’t necessarily communicate well with each other.

In the latest of our Telstra Vantage Behind the Mic series, Adam Spencer speaks to Stephen Dubner. Subscribe to the podcast via apple.

Look beyond the noise

Dubner explained further that the noisiest part of a problem is often the symptom, not the cause. Artificially-inseminated turkeys with gigantic breasts are a symptom of the agricultural revolution, which has for over a century repeatedly squashed arguments that we will run out of food to feed the world’s population. The US throws away 40 percent of food bought for consumption, he stated. The problem causing famine is not a lack of food but rather that political, social, and economic dysfunction prevents the food from reaching the people who need it.

The challenge, then, beyond asking the right questions to find the root cause of a problem, is finding the right incentives to fix the problem. Or as Dubner put it, “If you want to make a good decision, if you want to change someone’s behaviour, you have to understand the incentives that are at play.”

To illustrate that point, he next turned to bathroom hand hygiene and the difference between declared preferences and revealed preferences. He polled the audience: who doesn’t wash their hands after using the toilet? No hands went up. That’s people’s declared preference — the thing they hope to do, their expected behaviour. But his own efforts to measure this, by lingering at the sink at public toilets, have suggested that only around 70 percent of men actually wash their hands after using the toilet. That’s the revealed preference.

Hopes don’t always match behaviour, even among doctors at a hospital — who in one study self-reported hand hygiene compliance of 73 percent but were then recorded by their nurses as having an average compliance rate of only 9 percent.

Poor hand hygiene leads to bacterial infection, which is the most common cause of preventable death in hospitals. Doctors are the most educated people in a hospital, so clearly education is a poor incentive for good behaviour. Dubner talked about a committee for hand hygiene at a US hospital that tried to find the right incentive. First they hypothesised that it was a communication problem, so they issued a memo. Nothing changed. Then a subcommittee thought to use positive reinforcement — they hid in the room before a doctor arrived for his rounds, then if he washed his hands they jumped out, applauded, and handed over a $10 Starbucks gift card. Doctors loved the free gift and hurried to wash their hands whenever they heard the subcommittee was nearby.

But it didn’t change the overall rate of hand hygiene, either.

The winning solution finally came from a quiet member of the committee — “the best ideas often come from quiet people who like to sit in a room with their own thoughts” — who got everybody in the committee to press their hand into a petri dish and then got those cultured. Most returned covered in bacteria. The committee then took a photo of one of these palm-shaped cultures and used it as a screensaver on every computer in the hospital, with an explanatory label. Compliance leapt to 100 percent.

Be ready to experiment

“The moral of the story is that the incentives that you think may work don’t always work, [so you should] work hard to use data to find out what’s actually the behaviour and be willing to experiment,” said Dubner, who also pointed out that sometimes incentives can even backfire and produce the opposite behaviour — as was the case in a town that had a problem with rats eating people’s trash and spreading disease.

The government first offered free extermination, then when that didn’t work they offered free bins with lids. That also didn’t work, so they offered a cash reward. For every dead rat, they promised to pay the equivalent of about US$4. That then gave rise to a rat farming economy. Far from exterminating the rat population, people would breed rats to kill them and claim the reward.

“The next time you come up with a plan that seems perfect on paper, experiment, try it out, gather some data,” Dubner concluded, “because it may work brilliantly or you may just end up with a pile of dead rats on your doorstep.”

Launching ‘Liberate’: Combine the best of the desk phone and the mobile

Business and Enterprise

Posted on September 20, 2017

2 min read

We live in a world where the lines between work and personal life are blurring and people are using their personal devices more frequently for work purposes. From Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to mobility as a service, technology is enabling flexible ways of working for employees.

But, on the flipside, with the proliferation of mobile technology, people are communicating inside and outside of the office using multiple devices, various mobile communications tools and social media channels. This is causing implications for employee communications, and customer experience.

But all that is about to change.

‘Liberate’ your workforce

Today at Telstra Vantage, we announced our latest technology for businesses, bringing to market a solution to address the growing complexity of workplace mobility. And we’re proud to say, this is an Australian first.

The ‘Liberate’ product will provide our customers with a fixed to mobile network convergence capability natively to a mobile device.

This means, whether employees are on their own outside the office, or as a team in the office, they can now be as effective regardless of where they are.

How does it work?

Liberate unifies desk phones and mobiles in a single solution to simplify and enhance communications between teams and customers. Since call integration happens in the network, there’s an effortless handover between mobile and landline calls.

The mobile phone also has versatile Unified Communications functions, so employees can enjoy the best of your desk phone on the mobile for an office-like experience on the go.

Why is it so important?

We know that roughly 72 percent of enterprises businesses are either implementing or considering workplace transformation.

We want to help our customers on this journey, and that means arming them with the right technology that will empower their staff to mobilise, as well as meet the expectations and needs of their customers.

With our world-class network and reach, we know we are the best provider in Australia to meet our customers’ needs for an integrated fixed and mobile service at the network layer which will ‘Liberate’ their workforce.

Keep up with the latest in business and tech innovation at Telstra Vantage in our podcast series.

Twas the night before Vantage…

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 19, 2017

4 min read

I know September is a favourite month for many Australian’s – what with Footy Finals, the warmer weather creeping in and holidays just around the corner. For me, September is all about Telstra Vantage . . .it’s Australia’s pre-eminent ideas, technology and business experience and it’s awesome.

4 years ago the Telstra team set out to redefine the old school conference and event experience we’ve all been to. Looking at what’s in store this year, I can say with confidence that we have set a new standard in how companies can get value from spending time with a broad range of world leading technology partners.

This year will be even more focused on how we create brilliant customer experiences through the magic of technology. From Artificial Intelligence and drones, to eye movement technology that enables a dream to come true for a musician with physical limitations.

Read the book Freakonomics? Dreamed of travelling to space? Well this year we’ve got the award-winning co-author of the Freakonomics series Stephen Dubner and Anousheh Ansari, the world’s first female private space explorer and technology entrepreneur joining the stage. They are going to challenge and inspire everyone to sit up and think differently about how they take on challenges.

With 6,500+ people expected on site this will be the single largest experience that Telstra have ever delivered – but it’s not about size, it’s about quality. It’s about curating a brilliant experience that helps customers solve their issues.

Too often people talk about tech for tech’s sake, this experience focuses on developing solutions that actually help our customers, so they walk away with practical skills and solutions to make real change, now that’s worth getting excited about. We’re excited to be working together with businesses around the world over the next few days, to go one better than last year and solve even more business challenges with innovative technology.

Before it all kicks off tomorrow, I wanted to share why I feel like a little kid on Christmas morning and why attending could be the best business decision you make this year. . .

  1. It’s all about you – our customers

You are at the heart of this experience – every detail has been planned with you in mind. Every year, as part of our preparation, we ask our customers what their business challenges are and last year we solved 85% of these at Telstra Vantage based on what our customers saw, hear and experience while here.  This is the main reason I love this experience – it’s more than just an event we workshop real business problems and our attendees leave with real solutions.

  1. You will see the depth and breadth of the Telstra ecosystem

Telstra has a role in creating, curating, advising and inspiring our customers. Telstra Vantage brings this all together quite literally under one roof – showcasing our partners, our solutions and how we work together to help you achieve your business goals. This is where we do what we do best and it’s inspiring to see the jigsaw come together with people leaving Vantage with all the tools they need for a better year ahead.

  1. And, how the magic comes to life

When you walk into the Vantage Village, you realise the power that technology has in making dreams a reality. The experience breeds excitement, it’s the feeling of inspiration in its truest form. You will discover the secret source that you’ve been searching for, learning how technology can be truly magic, and better still, the solution that your business needs to thrive.

I look forward to sharing more about Vantage over the next couple of days.

Telstra Vantage Podcasts

Keep up with the latest in business and tech innovation at Telstra Vantage in our podcast series.