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Mgmt World: KPN Would Like the Lasagna, Please

DUBLIN -- Management World 2011 -- If telecom network operators want to innovate, they first need to massively simplify their IT and network operations, KPN Mobile 's CTO Erik Hoving says.

"All the time spent on standardization before we simplify is time wasted," Hoving warns.

Before lunch, Hoving had a food analogy: Today's network operations are like spaghetti, chaotic and disorganized, while the next-generation operations are more like lasagna, neatly organized and all in one piece.

"Now don't cut the lasagna, put the spaghetti in, and put the top back on and call it lasagna," he cautions. "You have to get rid of the spaghetti."

That has been Hoving's challenge at KPN Mobile where he arrived three years ago to find differing systems in each of the countries it serves, serving a very diverse set of products. His focus has been to create one set of systems to support three basic products: voice, data and SMS with more limited permutations.

Telecom would be better off with simplified choices for customers that can be delivered faster and more cost-effectively, the way other industries have, he said.

To achieve simplification at KPN, Hoving has been Bridging the Chasm by uniting the network and IT operations teams -- they previously didn't speak to one another -- and now he manages both. He established two simpler key performance indicators -- network cost per sub and network spend per unit used -- and threw away existing technology road maps.

"We use decision road maps instead," says Hoving. When a decision needs to be made, then the appropriate technology is explored and explained, not the other way around.

Hoving also stopped many of the projects that were absorbing staff time and resources, saying most were unnecessary and were driven more by industry marketeers than by customer or company needs.

"We had to do a huge IT overall in one of our countries, and we were unable to deploy new projects for nine months," Hoving recalled. "It was the best nine months we've had."

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:04:38 PM
re: Mgmt World: KPN Would Like the Lasagna, Please

KPN is under pressure to cut costs as its last financial results showed revenues just keep falling in its home market - and it's cutting about 5,000 jobs as well. So it's good to see efforts like Hoving's project to simplify the network and IT operations -- tossing out the spaghetti and ordering lasagna -- which ought to help bring costs down.

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 5:04:35 PM
re: Mgmt World: KPN Would Like the Lasagna, Please

He didn't talk about their specific results but he did say that given where revenue is trending, the industry in general has no choice but to dramatically cut its operating costs.

One of the other things I'm hearing kicked about here is the idea that "good enough" may be good enough for some apps and services - instead of testing everything to death.

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