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  • Optus kicks off $400m billing and customer care overhaul project
  • 18/11/2014 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Moses ( 22 articles in 2014 )
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OPTUS will spend about $400 million on a massive IT transformation project that would see the No 2 telco undertake a radical overhaul of its billing and customer care systems.

The Australian understands that the SingTel-owned telco has enlisted IT systems integrator Amdocs to help with the two-year project which, in addition to internal staffing costs, would cost between $300m and $400m.

The project — known inside Optus as BCC, for Billing and Customer Care — would see the telco untangle its snake’s nest of billing systems, shut down scores of legacy IT systems and unify its customer care functions across its mobile, fixed-line and HFC cable networks.

“We’re undertaking a huge transformation of our core IT systems over the next two years which will use the same platform across Singapore and Australia,” Optus chairman Paul O’Sullivan told The Australian.

“It’s designed to allow us to take things to the next level. It will give us the ability to deliver one or two-click functionality on the screen, the ability to apply analytics to do smart things. So if for example a (person) uses X amount of data when travelling overseas we can automatically recommend a pack that has that much data.”

If successful, the project would migrate Optus’s retail, business, enterprise and government customers and services across the telco’s various networks onto a single platform. This would provide the telco with a single customer view and generate cost savings as hundreds of legacy systems are switched off.

“We want to redesign the core processes in an Apple type of way so our customers get a wow factor when dealing with us. We are working to (see) how we automate and how we digitise it,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

The project, however, will come with huge risks and Optus management will be watching closely to ensure it does not follow Telstra’s botched rollout of its multi-billion-dollar Siebel billing system, which suffered regular crashes and led to case of double billing when first implemented.

Telstra’s technology transformation ultimately blew its budget by more than $1 billion, and caused problems for staff who had to deal with frequent software crashes and error provisioning.

Like Optus, Telstra’s IT transformation was designed to simplify its system architecture and product platform to improve customer experience. But in reality, deadlines slipped, costs increased and the platform did not deliver the full scope of what was expected.

Optus’s IT overhaul will face similar risks as the telco looks to decommission old billing systems and hundreds of legacy mobile and broadband plans that are no longer sold in the market.

“These projects are easy to talk about but they are a nightmare to execute,” said an Optus source with knowledge of the project but who asked to remain anonymous.

“There’s always a big risk with these projects that as you shut down legacy systems you might leave customers without service. This will be one of Optus’s top three operational risks over the next five years.”

The BCC project is part of Optus’s “Future Back” strategy, a plan to elevate the telco as the best customer service company in the nation. The Future Back strategy is supported by three pillars: the transformation of its back end IT systems; improved customer service; and moves to more subscription-based pricing plans for its services.


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