Duncan Gooding was promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer at TalkTalk’s enteprise arm earlier this month. He discusses his plans, including legacy systems and the IoT

Eurocomms.com: Congratulations on your new role, what are your key priorities for the year ahead?

Duncan Gooding: Thank you very much. Stepping into the new role I have a few different priorities for the year ahead.

One of my first focuses will be to support the short-term business growth of the company whilst also controlling costs in operations.

In the longer term, I’m working to crystallise our five-year strategy and also define our digital strategy.

I’ll also be looking to invest in technologies that help us to scale effectively without the associated costs, and to automate our legacy systems as we move our entire operations department towards proactive assurance services.

This, along with simplifying and rationalising our billing platforms, should make it much easier for our customers and Partners to consume products and services from us.

What is the biggest challenge you face in executing the above?

As is often the case, there’s a balancing act in making sure the investments that we make both benefit the short term whilst also aligning with our long-term strategy.

In terms of replacing legacy systems, the planning alone can take 12 months even before you begin to implement new systems.

One of the biggest challenges I find personally is changing my expectation on how quickly change can be achieved.

When I decide that I want to proceed with something, I want to see results pretty much straight away.

Unfortunately, as anyone working with legacy systems will tell you, this is not always possible.

Overall, how do you see the business communications market evolving in 2017?

The way we access information and the devices that we use are changing rapidly.

2017 will be no exception, as we move towards more services hosted and consumed on the cloud.

The traditional way of connecting different office locations is shifting towards internet facing connectivity with a secure wrap to protect the information.

Connecting offices in these new ways has the potential to deliver significant savings to companies as they face coping with the ever-growing demand for bandwidth and better connectivity.

2017 will also see even more expansion in the Internet of Things as even more devices are connected to your business network and producing data, either on the device or an individual.

Access to this data is key and telecom companies need to make sure that they’re offering services to meet these demands and address most spectrums of connectivity requirements.

You mention the IoT but TalkTalk has had little to say about this technology thus far. What are your plans to help your customers in this key area?

One of the areas where we’ve seen a particularly big expansion in the IoT has been in the retail industry.

Forward thinking retailers are now connecting as many devices as they can to the internet so that they can be managed remotely.

Clearly the interest from our customers is only set to grow, not just in retail, but across many different industries.

An example of our plans in this area is in developing next generation Wi-Fi solutions for retailers offering free connectivity to their customers.

We’re now developing these systems to not just provide access to the internet, but also to help the business measure and profile footfall, and analyse buying behaviour.

The services that we offer business are becoming more complex and often serve more than one purpose.

TalkTalk Business is now spending time with more stakeholders than just the IT department – we also find ourselves working with marketing and operations departments.

In many cases, network upgrades are being co-funded by multiple departments, driving this technology’s adoption to receive more benefits.

TalkTalk Business has said it has “ambitions to double its size over the medium term”. Whose lunch are you intending to steal?

TalkTalk Business already has a wide spectrum of customers, from small businesses operating in home offices, all the way up to a number of FTSE 250 companies.
Most of our work currently is via wholesale partners who then add their own specific value wrap to their services.

A growing number of customers though are dealing with us directly.

We find that there are a large number of companies out there who might not be particularly IT-savvy and are stuck in legacy contracts with BT.

They are usually paying well over the odds for outdated solutions.

As time goes on though, more companies are becoming wise to this and are reviewing their infrastructure to see how they can get more for less.

As a value player, we at TalkTalk Business normally find that we can deliver significant cost savings while offering many more future-proofed services, increasing the types of connectivity our customers can have.

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