We live in a world of real-time connection and blurred boundaries between the workplace and home. Telecom needs to operate in the same world says Simon Moutter.
Telecom’s chief executive has been in the role for a year. He was previously the company’s chief operating officer, leaving in 2008 to head Auckland International Airport.
The four years he was away saw a profound transformation within Telecom, not just because it devolved its network services to the new and separate Chorus.
“It is all now about the network and connectivity,” says Moutter. “We’re now business-centric to all data networks, whether that’s cellular, fibre, bitstream or anything else. Our job’s to provide ubiquitous access to an all data world.”
The internet-of-things is the major change Moutter’s noticed.
When he left in 2008 the world of connectivity was based on minutes; time talking on a telephone.
Now connectivity is around gigabytes, he says.
The pace of telecommunications change is only going to get quicker. While there are currently seven billion connected cellular devices, “we suspect that in five years there will be 50 billion connected devices,” says Moutter.
This will be in everything from fridges, to health to education.
“We haven’t scratched the surface,” he says.
From Telecom’s point of view, “this means we will have to keep pace with the changes, lead where we can, respond where we miscue,” he says. “It is hard to make every decision you make the right one.”
Being in a position to refocus if a business decision is found to be wrong is almost as important as making a correct decision says Moutter.
Telecom also feels a deep sense of obligation to New Zealand as one of its largest corporations; which compared to other telecoms providers is only operating in this single market.
“Our business will ultimately do well if New Zealanders are doing well,” he says. “If we’re delivering services that New Zealand businesses need, and they’re successful, we’ll be successful too. That is part of the shared journey that we’re on.”
Moutter says technological change is stress the old business models of every business, and some aspects of the information revolution stresses people and companies.
In this environment, a strong Telecom will have the money to reinvest in capability, and the whole country will be better off he says.
Part of Telecom’s journey has been to adjust, “and learn to operate at the speed of life,” he says.
In part 2 of Alastair Thompson’s interview, Simon Moutter talks about Telecom’s attitude to the government’s GCSB legislation.