Telecom shows faith in Closer Economic Relations

Telco expects over a third of its turnover from services to come from Australia

Telecom is projecting combined turnover of $470 million in the current financial year for its merged solutions business. Of that, TCNZA (Telecom New Zealand and Australia) will contribute $170 million, says Chris Quin, group general manager solutions.

The Telecom Advanced Solutions name will vanish and the group will trade under the Geni-i brand from the end of October. Gen-i chief executive Garth Biggs will work under contract in Australia till around the middle of 2005 to help pull together the solutions business of TAS, Gen-i and TCNZA there. He will report to Telecom CIO Mark Ratcliffe.

Biggs says New Zealand needs to stay focused on the merger and he will be “taking a load off” so there is no distraction.

“I will be giving support and leadership to the guys who run the business there and keeping the links with New Zealand,” he says. “I’m looking after the shareholder interests, looking how to put the businesses together.”

Biggs begins work in Australia on October 5.

Quin, meanwhile, has filled all nine management positions in the merged entity, which has 1,300 staff, including 170 in Australia.

The major customer concern about the merger, he says, is whether the business will be flexible. “They’re keen to see how competitive we’ll be and about the real margins in the IT market.

“We’ve solved a lot of issues to make sure compensation [among the different staff] isn’t a divider. We will be driven by what the customers want, whether it be coordinated account management or maintaining existing relationships.

“Not many have said so far 'make it one person', though I think that will come.”

To facilitate the merger, Quin has instituted a consultative process with staff, known as the appreciative inquiry methodology. More than 400 people in the business have been tapped to comment on “best” — the best sale done, and the like. The information is being collated to provide, Quin says, a focus on what is the best way of doing business.

This month, 250 staff, nominated by their peers, will take place in a summit to distill the information and decide on what the new business should be. The results of that will be rolled out in November.

In Wellington, the company will continue to operate from separate premises, largely because of a lack of adequate available space in one building.

Quin says Gen-i will compete against Telecom’s outsourcer, EDS, where it needs to. “Our key target isn’t EDS and we will use our own capability where we can.”

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