LIVE FROM OPERATIONS TRANSFORMATION FORUM 2017, HONG KONG: Bouke Hoving, EVP, networks and & IT at KPN, shared his key takeaways for operators embarking on digital transformation, following the company’s own work to modernise its business.
“Most of the programmes choose between either cost efficiencies or customer experience improvements. And I was refusing to choose between the two, and not willing to accept a vague compromise,” he said.
And this led to a work which saw KPN cutting 80 per cent of its products and 25 per cent of its IT systems, in order to improve its flexibility and simplicity.
For a wide-ranging transformation project to be a success, it is important that there is a full mandate for change. Otherwise, “you end up with a model where you have to make a lot of compromises,” Hoving said.
Leadership needs to keep confidence in the transformation project, and to drive this confidence though the organisation, across management, business units and frontline staff. But a certain degree of modesty is also needed: “Ultimately it’s a business transformation, and it’s not very wise for IT to claim all the success,” he said.
And the executive also highlighted the need to “find win-win partnerships”. KPN worked with Huawei on its digital transformation.
“Obviously we have had setbacks, and some of the timelines have slipped. But if you step back, we have accomplished each and every element of the transformation that we embarked on. And that is what a good partnership is about,” Hoving said.
One of the key issues highlighted at OTF17 has been the need for operators to have the right people and skills to support their digital efforts. And KPN is no different.
“We had outsourced and off-shored all of our digital capabilities in the past. And from a strategic perspective, we said, that’s not what we should do. If you really want to become a digital telco, you should in-source your core digital capabilities, whether that be IT development, IT architecture, digital sales, digital marketing,” he said.
The company created a “digital factory” in Amsterdam, which is said to have a start-up culture within a corporate, and is also separate from KPN’s head office in The Hague. “Becoming a digital telco is really about having a more agile way of working, but also about creating a new culture for those digital recruits”.
“When I started, I said if I only delivered the savings, I would consider the programme to be a complete disaster and failure. Because ultimately what this transformation is about is a step-change in customer interaction,” Hoving said.