Belgian operator plans to be more digital by modernising ops, cutting costs and reskilling employees. So what’s new?
Proximus’ efforts to transition from a telco to digital service provider started in 2014, but “the challenging market conditions in Belgium” means pressure is on the company “to fundamentally reinvent itself”.
The value of the telecoms market in Belgium has stalled, despite the ever-increasing demand for connectivity. Proximus stated, “heavy regulations are putting further pressure on prices” and said it “faces operational and workforce costs which are higher than its competitors”.
The operator aims to reduce costs through rationalisation of its networks, product portfolio, platforms, buildings and IT systems, and further simplification, automation and digitalisation. Its target is an additional gross saving of €240 million by 2022. There is no guarantee of success: this week RBC Capital Markets warned that Vodafone’s position could be unsustainable despite years of fostering synergies, cutting costs and talking digitisation and despite strenous efforts Deutsche Telekom group is struggling to hit its savings target.
Call centres r us
Proximus will investigate with suppliers how and where it can reduce costs and improve efficiencies, and will do the same with external partners, such as those who run its calls centres, looking at the possibilities of near-and off-shoring. This rings alarm bells about Proximus’ grasp of what being digital is. As one pundit put it, “When was the last time you called Amazon?”. Being digital makes call centres all but obsolete because most customers can and prefer to do most things online. The commentator added, “Often operators see digital transformation as upgrading their call centres”.
Proximus’ reinvention of itself is not just about cost cutting though. It will recruit 1,250 staff over the next three years, of which 750 will help expand its ICT activities “in the various affiliates”, while the other 500 employees will work at Proximus NV in new digital domains. The ongoing fibre rollout will provide 1,600 jobs for external partners this year alone.