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Friday, June 7, 2013

Telcos and Maxis need to reinvent

Maxis has not been paying much attention to its young local talent, resulting in some of these talents making its competitors look good instead.

IT has been an interesting week for the telecommunications sector locally.

Axiata Group Bhd got pre-qualified to bid for a mobile licence in Myanmar, Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd head honcho Michael Lai quit the company and Maxis Bhd saw some staff departures.

Why Lai left is a mystery. Hopefully, he will show up at another telco because he knows the marketing game well.

At Maxis, several personnel have left, with more expected to head for the exit door. Most senior, and some middle-level executives, may also bid their adieus. Those whose contracts are up for renewal may leave because Maxis is on a massive clean-up mode.

Some call it a clean-up, while others say it is a reorganisation. Essentially, it is re-shaping itself to respond better to market demands in view of the challenging times ahead. The consumer is discerning and its competitors have cleaned up their acts.

It might be the biggest company by revenue and subscriber base, but it has competitors who are nimble and agile.

Surprisingly, Maxis has not been paying much attention to its young local talent, resulting in some of these talents making its competitors look good instead. Indeed, Celcom Axiata is looking attractive, and DiGi.Com Bhd, savvy.

What Maxis is facing is a battle both within and without the company.

It has no chief executive officer (CEO), a bloated workforce of 3,500, 24 units/divisions, a seemingly lack of young talent at the top, operational and cost inefficiencies, and it could do better in some market segments by lowering prices and bringing to market more innovation.

“It is hard to find a unit with large numbers of people below 30,” said a person familiar with the company.
The clean-up is the first step in addressing the problem, but is it skin-deep or merely surface-scratching?

Still, all is not lost.It has a great brand, brand loyalty, a wide network - although some hard decisions could have been made - a huge subscriber base, much to the envy of its rivals, and a multitude of products and services.

It also enjoys pole position in the market place.

The key now is to sharpen its focus, reinvent itself, harness its local talent and move forward fully energised. This may take anything from six to nine months, but worth every second in its bid to transform itself.

Next week, the new organisation structure will be out, although the search for a CEO is still on. Succession planning should be considered because at some point of time, the CEO will have to be homegrown. That gives hope to the team.

The future is about a real convergence of mobile and fixed networks, resulting in greater convenience for customers, with portals that can be accessed with all devices, independent of the technology used, says a report.

Making that right call on technology is, therefore, critical, as networks of the future will need a high degree of reliability whilst cleaning up, and at the same time, keeping costs under control, which is vital.

Friday Reflections by B.K. Sidhu

*Business editor (news) B K Sidhu says improve the call quality and there will be happier and loyal customers.

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