Telecom looks to offload service staff

Telecom is on the verge of outsourcing or selling off the Telecom Business Services field force. Around 100 technicians are likely to be affected. Telecom confirmed last week that it was doing due diligence with a third party after initially talking to five potential vendors.

Telecom is on the verge of outsourcing or selling off the Telecom Business Services field force. Around 100 technicians are likely to be affected.

Amid market rumours of imminent changes, Telecom confirmed last week that it was doing due diligence with a third party after initially talking to five potential vendors. The telco wouldn't name the third party but market speculation suggests it could be EDS, which is also bidding — along with IBM — to outsource Telecom's IT business. A decision on that is some months away.

Nortel has had meetings recently with corporate services boss Peter Thompson, though it's not clear whether they have a bearing on the field force operations. Datacom is also understood to be in the picture.

"Telecom will retain sales and esign functions in all the customer relationships," says communications spokesman Glen Sowry.

He says a decision on whether to proceed with outsourcing (or selling) the field force will be made within the next few weeks.

Telecom is also understood to be trying to sell its cabling business. The moves suggest the telco is getting out of its sunset operations and concentrating on online services and value-add.

In another move, Telecom is merging its strategy and corporation information services groups, which will now be known as Corporate Strategy and Information Services. Chief executive Roderick Deane says experience in the online world has shown that it is imperative that Telecom take an integrated approach to business and information services.

General manager of corporate information services Karyn Devonshire will head the merged group. Vaughan Smith, who headed the strategy group and largely drives Telecom's e-commerce direction, has been appointed general manager of the new, business-focused Online Solutions Group.

The former head of Xtra, Bob Smith, has resigned. The new product and service development unit at Telecom Services, promised by Services general manager Theresa Gattung when she announced the restructuring at the beginning of this month, has also emerged. It will be headed by Mark Ratcliffe, in a role which appears similar to his current one of general manager of service development.

Gattung last week told Telecom Services staff, in an email forwarded to online news service @IDG from a Hotmail address, that, having received feedback on the proposed changes, she had confirmed the restructuring, and "clarity … on some of the accountabilities and relationships is now being worked through in some detail.

"No organisation structure is without its tensions, but having considered feedback over the last week, I am confident that my proposed structure is consistent with Services' overall strategic direction and principles."

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