TeliaSonera Looks to IT Revamp for New Lease of Life
SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle OpenWorld 2015 -- Swedish operator TeliaSonera is looking to lose weight and get fit, cutting 80% of its business to refocus on high-value services and markets and jettison 150 years of legacy ballast. The carrier is looking to IT to help drive the change.
"It's not just an IT transformation. It's more of a business transformation," TeliaSonera VP IT Johan Anderson said at a presentation at the conference here this week.
Telia Company is the largest Nordic and Baltic fixed voice, broadband, and mobile operator by revenue and customer base. The head office is in Stockholm. TeliaSonera was formed by the merger between Swedish Telia and Finnish Sonera in 2002, and provides mobile, broadband, fixed line, VoIP and TV services. Net 2014 sales were SEK 10.1 billion ($1.2 billion US). The company operates with about 26,000 employees.
As part of TeliaSonera's transformation, the company recently announced its intent to withdraw from seven Eurasian markets and focus on Europe and Sweden. (See TeliaSonera to Quit Eurasia, Focus on Europe.)
TeliaSonera's challenges include inefficient BSS/OSS silos optimized for previous organizations, which make it difficult to provide comprehensive views of business or make bundles across product lines, Anderson said. The company needs to improve multi-channel interactivity and customer experience, shorten time to market for new offerings and services, and lower total cost of ownership by standardizing business processes.
"The challenges are typical for a 150-year-old company," Anderson said. "We are quite slow when it comes to time to market and rolling out new services because we can't integrate them, and that's a challenge. And we're also expensive."
Anderson is harsh with his self-assessment, but says that TeliaSonera is comparable to most operators. "That's the business we are in, together with all operators in the world," he said. "We are not worse than our colleagues. But nevertheless we want to change these.”
TeliaSonera decided more than a year ago to focus on transformation. The goals: reducing products and offerings by 50%, with 50% fewer IT systems, 50% of services and sales moved online, and 100% of customers on the target portfolio.
"The reason to do that is to be prepared for the future, to get annual savings of [SEK]1.3 billion [US$153 million] by the end of 2017," Anderson said. It's a five-year plan, to conclude in 2018.
Rationalizing IT systems is a big part of the transition. "We have systems that are older than I am. And I'm not all that young anymore," Anderson said.
In making the transformation, the IT team has to grapple with skepticism from C-level executives. Past efforts at business transformations through IT have failed. "I'm getting from the C-level that 'you have to convince me that if I give you the money you will not make the same mistakes your predecessors did'," Anderson said.
To achieve success where past efforts failed, IT has adopted a few guiding principles, including showing success early -- projects need to achieve results within six months -- adopting the best available solution rather than waiting for the perfect solution, and combining transformation and legacy maintenance, so old systems are aging out as new systems take their place.
As a first step, TeliaSonera is looking to transform its fiber business. One of the first decisions, two years ago, was choosing whether to build internally or procure standard systems. TeliaSonera has had a DIY approach for 50 years, and it hasn't been successful, Anderson said. This time around, they went for a standard system.
Next decision: "best of breed" or "best of suite"? TeliaSonera decided to find the best suite available for the purpose, because the company didn't have integration capabilities.
TeliaSonera put out an RFP and PoC, and decided to implement the Oracle Communications Rapid Offer Design and Order Delivery Solution (RODOD) to accelerate design and delivery of products and services across channels. Oracle achieved 80% of the design goals in two weeks, Anderson said.
RODOD is a suite of OSS/BSS products and services rather than an individual product, designed to help providers combine products and services for individual customers -- precisely one of the main problems TeliaSonera is looking to solve.
RODOD isn't perfect, Anderson said. It's "complex like hell to implement. How can it be so complex?" he said. "There's a lot of consulting services needed to get it up and running and integrated into your environment." Also, licensing models and applications operation aren't adjusted to virtualization and the cloud. In many cases, software needs to run on locked blades. Licensing is confusing -- sometimes CPU-based, and other times revenue based.
"I get lost. There might be some really good guys in procurement who understand it, but I get lost," Anderson said. "Even though we have these problems, I believe it works."
The big day is coming up -- RODOD goes live in production for the first customers of TeliaSonera Fiber November 19. Later, the company plans to rationalize its VoIP and television offerings.
"In 2018, we will have a new TeliaSonera. We started in 2013. We are now in the beginning of the middle," Anderson said.
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