Optus bets big on a enterprise revamp

Optus Business boss John Patriadis has successfully bolstered the business by finally bringing Alphawest into the fold. But it's the addition of Singtel ICT consultancy NCS that could really provide the wow factor.

Optus Business has bolstered its overall enterprise proposition by bringing its telecommunications and ICT capabilities under one roof, now that the integration of its IT services arm Alphawest is complete.

There’s an added element to the restructure which sees Singtel’s IT subsidiary National Computer Systems (NCS) added to the overall mix. It’s a move that adds substantial new capability to the consolidated entity and is a critical plank of the strategy advocated by Optus Business boss John Paitaridis, who left Telstra to join Optus in January last year.

That strategy is turning Optus Business into an ICT powerhouse with capabilities to not just compete with Telstra but also with the IT companies and consultants that play in the ICT space.

The restructure announced this week is the culmination of work that started in November last year. An Optus Business - Alphawest combo always made a lot of sense and Paitaridis told Technology Spectator that while both were solid entities in their own right there was a clear need to fix the previous “disjointed” structure and cut down on duplication.

“The Alphawest piece is important to us because there was a level of duplication in their structure, we had great network, telco experience in one part of the organisation and we had the ICT skill in another part of the organisation,” Paitaridis said.

“It was very important for us to bring these skills together.”

Paitaridis has managed to bring together two units of substantial scale to deliver a stronger offering and the addition of NCS delivers the ability to compete in the applications space.

The $37 million restructure does come at a price and will contribute to about 1000 job losses at Optus but Paitaridis says that the overall equation should benefit customers who will get to work with work with a unified entity.

Optus has now combined managed services, sales and delivery staff into six ‘Centres of Excellence’, focused on business application services, cloud, collaboration, contact centres, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and machine-to-machine (M2M)

“When you think about organisations and the convergence of technology that they are facing, they are asking for two things – they want all the technology to work together to create successful business outcomes; and to streamline the supply-partner chain,” Paitaridis said.

The telco piece is interesting in terms of infrastructure but it’s NCS’ involvement that is critical for Optus Business, because it will provide the insight on how Optus’ client will be able to make the most of what (the cloud, big data, and analytics) has to offer.

Singtel acquired NCS, one of the largest IT companies in Singapore, in 1997 for $S65 million. NCS currently has over 8,000 staff located in more than 10 countries and its presence in Australia will now increase over time.

Alphawest’s former CEO Ian Smith will now serve as vice-president, ICT solutions of Optus Business and the move allows Optus Business to fully leverage Alphawest’s core design and deployment competencies and target a new market.

Paitaridis says that there is a lot of potential in the mid-market segment and a refreshed Optus Business can now extend its existing capabilities in serving large multinationals to medium-sized businesses.

“It is clear that our customers on both ends of the scale want a more integrated solution. They want a partner that can bridge the divide between the networks that enable the connectivity and the seamless ICT experience and applications which take advantage of the networks.

Optus already has a strong presence in the financial services and logistics space locally and has its sights set on working with the public sector on education and healthcare segments.  Once again, scaling up will help with that.

The telco’s business unit already serves over 3,000 business and government customers and Paitaridis says that the recent $60 million deal with security firm Suretek is only the start when it comes to targeting medium-sized enterprises.

Over the next two and three months expect to hear about more client-wins in that segment from Optus. With the finishing touches on the restructure now complete, Paitaridis now has the job of convincing clients that Optus Business is the one stop shop that can provide the solutions they need.

Phase one of Paitaridis' mission is over, now comes the hard yards.