8 – 14 Septembre 1997
Telecom Interactive ’97
Palexpo – Geneva, Switzerland
hosted by the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU)
11 September 1997
29 Sept. – 2 Oct. 1997
IC Annual Conference
Regent of Sydney Hotel
199 George Street
hosted by Telstra
1 October 1997
GTWN Power Breakfast
27 – 28 October
IIC Telecommunications Forum
Astrain Room, 7th Floor
3400 International Drive
Washington D.C. – USA
10 – 14 January 1998
ITU Telecom ’99
GTWN Award for
“Innovation and Impact in Global Telecommunications”
more and more countries are opening up their telecommunications markets. In Europe,1998 will be a crucial and interesting year in this respect.
As a consequence, former state monopolies and their future private competitors will have to decide on their strategy in the liberalized market.
In this issue, Ann Johnson from IBM will report on the growing importance of customer care in this con. text. Other topics are the chances women will find in this growth market and how the GTWN can help to promote them.
GTWN Moving Forward into the 21st Century
Networking and Changing the Culture of Telecommunications
GTWN Moving Forward into the 21st Century
“More than ever before, there is a need for women telecommunications executives to network and to combine their vision and leadership to bring about a more international, more creative, more innovative global telecommunications culture. The GTWN and its members can facilitate this networking and serve as a catalyst for this change.”
In a nutshell, this statement summarizes the outcome of an excellent GTWN Steering Committee Meeting hosted in London on August 4th by GTWN Steering Committee Member Janice Hughes, owner and president of Spectrum Strategy Consultants.
The meeting was attended physically and virtually (by e-mail and telephone conference hook-up) by GTWN Regional Presidents and Steering Committee Members from around the globe. The meeting reaffirmed the original goals as described above of the GTWN and set forth an agenda for the next two years.
A Network is of course as excellent as its people. As Marshall McLuhan said “The Medium is the Massage”. Over the next months and years, each GTWN Regional President and Steering Committee Member will do her best to find and help develop women telecommunications leaders in her region and to invite these executives to network with the GTWN All fields and sectors are open as long as international telecommunications is the prime business objective.
Top-notch events with excellent speakers at international telecommunications fairs will continue to be a venue for networking and promulgating the GTWN’s special brand of international telecommunications. Looking to the short term, a group of GTWTN members will meet informally at the Telecom Interactive in Geneva on September 11th.
The GTWN will also have its first Power Breakfast in the Australian region in Sydney on October 1, with special guest Frank Blount, CEO of Telstra Corporation.
Looking a little bit ahead on the horizon, GTWN Regional Presidents from the USA, Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America will all be collaborating in a major GTWN event taking place at the Pacific Telecommunications Council Conference in January in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Over the next weeks and months, the GTWN will be collectively working to establish the criteria and award categories for The GTWN Award for “Innovation and Impact in Global Telecommunications”. It is planned to give these awards at a black-tie award ceremony to take place at the ITU’s Telecom ’99 in Geneva. This is being announced two years in advance in order to provide a go for people to strive for and to receive candidate nominations from around the world.
In closing, we had two excellent events in June – one in New Orleans at the Supercomm organized by GTWN USA President Susan Mirbach and one in Singapore, organized by GTWN Asia President Ida Chow. They are reported on further in this issue but we just wanted to say bravo to Ida and Susan for having organized these two super Networking venues.
GTWN Power Breakfast in Singapore
GTWN Power Breakfast at Asia Telecom ’97
by Ida Chow, Regional President of the GTWN for Asia
The first Asian GTWN event was a Power Breakfast held in Singapore on 10 June 1997 in conjunction with Asia Telecom ’97. The gathering was sponsored by Singapore Telecom.
The event was attended by 29 women and 1 honourable gentleman, Mr. Jonathan Parapak, our guest speaker. The attendees came from Singapore, USA, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
There was very strong interest in the gathering, with some women bringing their friends on an impromptu basis. Heather Hudson showed a shining example of our ,,Mentor Program” by bringing four young women with her.
The GTWN Asia President, Ida Chow, welcomed the group by giving an introduction to the GTWN and its activities. She introduced the guest speaker, Mr. Jonathan Parapak, Secretary-General of the Department of Tourism, Posts and Telecommunications of Indonesia and the Chairman of the GMPCS Policy Forum.
The 21st century – an era of women
Mr. Parapak gave an encouraging speech on the 21st Century being the era of women. The world is progressing so rapidly and women have so many capabilities to enable them to adapt and succeed in the next millennium. Telecommunications has developed so much that countries have used various standards and gone on different routes, he encouraged us to follow the motto of Indonesia ,,Unity in diversity” in our ventures. Mr. Parapak also brought his wife, Anne – the First Lady of Telecommunications in Indonesia – to the gathering.
The second speaker was Madame Koesmarihati Sugondo, President Director of Telkomsel, a national GSM operator in Indonesia. Madame Koesmarihati spoke of the obstacles faced by women in reaching the senior levels in the telecommunications industry in Indonesia.
Career and family
However, the opportunities are plentiful and a woman must be confident of her abilities and be willing to seize such opportunities. She also spoke of the balance between the pursuit of success in her career with her family time as she is a proud grandmother. Many women were touched by Madame Koesmarihati’s personal speech and she is a role model to young women in the industry.
Ms Chua Sock Koong, Senior Vice-President of Singapore Telecom, also addressedthe audience on behalf of the sponsor.
Then the famous networking of GTWN started, led by Steering Committee member Walda Roseman. The women exchanged contacts, ideas and there were cross-cultural discussions amongst the different nationalities on doing business in a challenging, high growth Asian telecommunications market.
We learned interesting things like the predominance of women in the Telecommunications Authority of Singapore so that women have a strong role in determining the future of telecommunications in Singapore.
Numerous women groups that have been established in Singapore for business executives and in the information technology area to empower women for the Internet era.
Having forged this first link, we look forward to more GTWN gatherings before this year is over.
Interview with Marie-Monique Steckel from France Telecom
“Take the Risk and Seize the Opportunity”
Interview with Marie-Monique Steckel, President France Telecom North America
GTWN: Our members are always interested in learning about other women who have reached the most senior levels in the telecommunications industry, and who have realised a strategic vision. Can you tell us how you developed your career in telecommunications?
Marie-Monique: I believe that in many cases, for both men and women, major career moves rely heavily on luck but also on identifying an opportunity and being willing to take the risk and seize that opportunity; when I began in telecommunications in 1978, only a few of my colleagues in France Telecom were ready to take the opportunity presented to them of coming to the United States to establish an office here. The risk of leaving headquarters and the seat of power was considered to be too dangerous for one 5 career ambitions.
I, on the other hand, had already realised that I wanted to create a bridge between the US and France. While French by birth, I studied at Yale and then married an American. I had worked for six years as the Head of the Industrial Development Agency for the French Prime Minister; then for two years with Jacques Chirac’s office as the National Delegate for Telecommunications. I was eager to return to the US and play a useful role in building on my experience within the US and French markets.
GTWN: So what do you think was essential for your career?
Marie-Monique: In many ways I was in the right place at the right time, before telecommunications was as complex as it is today. I was prepared to take a risk, and seized the opportunity. I believe women are more gifted at creating their own careers and raking advantage of new situations, as they don’t have as many prejudices as men.
This is why there are so many women entering the multimedia industry today.
GTWN: What have been the greatest challenges that you have faced? How have you overcome then;, and what are the lessons for those who wish to succeed?
Marie-Monique: The greatest challenge is to have enough self-confidence to enable you to start something yourself without anyone to tell you what to do. The key is to find a good mentor (I have had two – both in France).A mentor is essential in telecommunications, as it is such a special club. Iris a unique industry requiring an understanding of a mixture of technology, marketing and economics.
Today everyone is expected to have a ‘background’ in the industry; no-one is prepared to train you, as in the old days. We want instant experts, who are au fait with the jargon and the culture of the industry This is where a mentor becomes a vital link to that inner group.
GTWN: Given your experience of operating in the US, what advice can you offer to new entrants wishing to enter the market now?
Marie-Monique: For new entrants coming into the US marketplace, the major challenge is in understanding the culture of the US market, which is quite different from Europe. Hiring the right executive in the US has become very difficult, not just in telecommunications, but in many industries. For example, for a European-based carrier, it is a challenge to identify skilled staff who can also understand and appreciate the French cultural differences. The HR strategy of a company today is critical, as people are a company’s biggest asset in the US.
GTWN: How would you characterise the US telecommunications market and what differences, if any, has the Telecommunications Act 1996 made to the US market and in particular the prospects for new entrants?
Marie-Monique: The US market today is characterised by big ‘blocks’. Previously there were several second tier operators; now the trend is to be allied to one of these blocks. The changes to the legislation (which allowed players to enter into each others’ backyards) have pushed people to form alliances. The US market is getting too big for any one carrier to do it alone. The investment required would be enormous.
Since the 1996 Act US carriers are focussing on the US domestic market as their priority. They are no longer pushing out internationally for a global reach as much as the RBOCs did before. So to cover the needs of their customers, they are looking for global partners.
GTWN: What is your view of the future prospects fir the telecommunications industry in general, and telcos in particular? All carriers are now going into content related areas; do you think this is the way forward, or will carriage remain the core activity?
Marie-Monique: A main area carriers are now focussing on is mobile telephony. A second priority is emerging markets, in particular in Africa, the former Soviet Union and Asia. Thirdly; carriers are busy consolidating the alliances they are forming. An alliance, for example, is really just like a marriage. It takes a lot of work for it to succeed.
Personally, I think that the strength of the carrier will remain in the backbone – the network. Resellers without infrastructure will be increasingly under pressure in the marketplace from carriers. Carriers can build value-added services on top of their networks, as evidenced by the number of telcos going into multimedia and online services.
I believe all carriers should now be going into voice on the Internet. In the future, one can imagine the consumer having a communications instrument with various buttons – one for image, one for low quality voice, one for high quality voice, etc. and you will pick which service you require for each particular application.
GTWN: What role can the GTWN play in assisting women to take advantage of the opportunities now developing in telecommunications?
Marie-Monique: Women are particularly geared to being leaders in this industry They are prepared to take the risks for their career, and go into areas that men may avoid.
Women are more interested in foreign cultures and in communicating with others, and they are usually more gifted linguistically. Therefore they are ideally placed to thrive in the new global environment, which requires adaptability and risk-taking.
Many people are unaware of the number of talented women now in telecommunications, or those interested in entering the industry. And equally, many women are unaware of the opportunities that are presenting themselves.
The GTWN can therefore play a very useful role by being an ‘information exchange’ among industry; the business schools, the conference organizers, and talented women in the industry.
For younger women, The GTWN can play an additional role, of assisting them to identify appropriate opportunities and enabling them to gain the experience they need to progress in their careers.
GTWN Powerbreakfast in New Orleans
GTWN Power Breakfast in New Orleans
Susan G. Mirbach, president of Belgacom North America, recently accepted the role of United States Regional President for GTWN. In this position, Susan hosted the first GTWN North American meeting at Supercomm’97 in New Orleans this past June.
The group was addressed by Candace Johnson, founder and president of the Supervisory Board of Europe Online a.s.b.l. and a GTWN founder and steering committee member. Candace spoke about ‘Convergent Trends in the Satellite and Internet Arenas’.
Future GTWN North American events are being considered at upcoming industry conferences including the Communications Managers Association (CMA) Conference in New York City, November 10-13th,and the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) Conference in Honolulu, January 10-14,1998.
Nancy Wilson, director global marketing and business development from Ameritech International, is assisting in contacting current and prospective members.
|Customer Care What does it mean?|
by Ann Johnson, Vice President Management Consulting IBM
It’s hard to summarise the environment for telcos as the millennium approaches without striking into cliché or repeating standard industry analysis.
We have all attended numerable presentations and seminars on the forces driving telcos into the 21st century – demonopolisation, privatisation, liberalisation, deregulation, and the technological progress which fuels both dramatic improvements in productivity and a never-ending stream of new products and services. Within this market place, IBM has concluded that a key area for telco solution investment is in Customer Care (see fig. 1)
|Figure 1: Sources of Differentiation
|Sources of Differentiation
The report was produced by IBM Consulting Group
With the present global market, price is still the major competitive weapon. New entrants tend to differentiate themselves by quoting the percentage by which their prices will’ be lower than those of the incumbent PTT.
New ways of differentiation
Where competition is more mature, the breadth and quality of service offerings has become as important as price when fighting for market share. Increasingly sophisticated consumers are prepared to draw comparisons between residential facilities such as call waiting, call forwarding, or3-way- calling, and business facilities such as integrated billing for multiple services, fixed-mobile integration, and complex international VPNs.
Over time, it is my expectation that – as in other industries such as banking, insurance and retail – both price and service competition will commoditise in the telco world, due to the ready availability of cheap common technology.
In other words, no telco will be able to have more than a temporary advantage over another from a price or service viewpoint. Whatever technology enablement is used for business advantage, that advantage will quickly become available also to the telco’s competitors.
Speed-to-market will of course continue to be away of gaining genuine commercial advantage, but it will be difficult to sustain.
Focus on Customer Care.
So, as price and service become less unequal, the key battleground for acquiring customers, retaining them, and maximising the telco’s revenue from them will be the Customer Care process. This is the key tong term source of advantage.
Coupled with a best in class Customer Care process will be the restructuring of the overall operation. These together will achieve sustainable cost levels and competitive advantage.
Excellent Customer Care is not about including it in your mission statement, stating you will give everything to your customers 365 days a year; you are unlikely to achieve the right result without ensuring it is really what your customers want and what you can afford.
How to achieve good Customer Care
To achieve world class Customer Care telcos should be benchmarked against two critical criteria for ensuring profitable and long term customers:
- satisfying your customers immediate needs
- building long term loyalty.
To ensure this happens, telcos will need to gather much information about their customers and be able to use it in the correct way. The key is effective market segmentation, then understanding closely your customers’ needs, future usage and improved time to market with new products and services.
The role of billing
The role of billing and billing systems has changed to be a key component of support to both Customer Care and competitive response. By its nature, the billing process is the key source of customer-related information. The release of this information to all customer-facing functions is allowing a new customer perspective to develop. Billing is the primary information source for the identification and measurement of:
- changes in effective revenue streams
- customer profiles
- customer services and product trends
- customer satisfaction trends
- customer retention trends new opportunities for growth.
These changes enhance the ability of an operator to compete and serve the customer in the future market for telecommunications.
Total customer orientation
However, other systems must also be brought into line, for example:
- service management (for self-service operations)
- complaints handling (with the ability to solve the problems)
- workforce scheduling (to meet customer needs not internal needs).
These and other areas of the organisation and systems are core to the radical realignment many telco organisations need to go through to become customer-facing and accurately address their market (see fig. 2).
|Figure 2: Pressure for Change Pressure for Change
The report was produced by IBM Consulting Group
Before the advent to the Customer Care concept, most telco’s prime interaction with their customers was through billing. The billing process is large and complex, even when it deals only with a single service line, e.g. PSTN. Because of size, billing processes and systems were difficult to update or enhance, and therefore increasingly became critical inhibitors to the introduction of new services or tariff packages. Hence, the telco’s inability to react competitively in market place.
Older billing systems were also not designed to be customer-friendly; billing integrity was top of the list of functional requirements, rather than anything defined by the marketing department of the telco. Realisation that this key customer interaction had the potential to do more than simply bill accurately, is leading many telcos to look for an effective Customer Care solution (see fig. 3).
|Figure 3: Pressure for Change
The report was produced by IBM Consulting Group
Three steps towards perfect Customer Care
The three phases of the customer care challenge have not been fully achieved by any operator, yet this eventually provide.
Billing and Customer Care information is key to making this transition happen, yet the systems and processes to enable this are not simple Simplification, whilst retaining efficient manageability of complex transactions, is the aim.
Today, the number of Customer Care solutions is into action with double figures. Telcos must ensure they are geared for success through their customer service operations and have in place:
- customer-focused culture
- flexibility and scaleability of systems
- flexibility of services
- ability to map closely to the business processes
- bandwidth on demand
- variable payment options with suppliers
- close working relationship
- rapid addition of new products in response to new or emerging market requirements, such as integrated mobile support
- service guarantees
- customisation of services
To telcos this means:
- better response to customers, as all customer information is available to the CSR, and hence improved customer satisfaction leading to lower churn rates
- significant workload reduction for CSRs. with associated cost savings
- aligned business processes systems and resources.
The Benefits of Mentoring – GTWN Reports (2)
by Marta T. White, Vice President of A T Kearney, London
In the first part of her essay on mentoring, Marta T. White summarized the key roles of mentoring, gave a literature survey of the definitions distinguishing between specific and general uses of mentoring. The second part of her article deals with the advantages and disadvantages of mentoring.
Advantages of mentoring
The advantages of mentoring to the protégé include improved self-confidence; learning to cope with the formal and informal structure of the company; career advice and advancement.
Maureen Scholefield (1990) in notes on a mentoring workshop for women, lists the advantages for the protégé of mentoring as follows:
- individual support
- guided advancement
- confidential relationship
- access to information
- sounding board
- practical assistance
The benefits for the mentor can include:
- personal involvement
- job satisfaction up-todate knowledge
- career advancement.
Mentoring allows protégés to develop new ideas and experiment with concepts and approaches within a relatively ‘safe’ environment and at the same time can allow mentors to learn about new approaches and techniques from recently-qualified protégés who may be more up-to-date and academically better informed about recent developments and theories than they are themselves.
Previous research findings confirmed that informal mentoring systems can be effective for developing young managers, and that senior executives and managers should be encouraged to act as mentors to high performers. It is important, however, to point out that mentors may need to be taught how to mentor. Mentoring tends to reinforce hierarchical networks, it is therefore worth first examining informal networks and then deciding whether mentoring was the best form of enhancing one’s career or simply strengthening a peer group.
Mentoring can also be used alongside other methods of development, such as networks, social events, internal groups and professional associations; peers can act as mentors as well as more senior colleagues.
Disadvantages of mentoring
There is of course a negative side of mentoring, when mentoring relationships turn out badly for participants, due to faulty assessments of mentor’s or protégé’s needs, goals or intentions, or because of difficulties between members of the relationship. The main factors that can adversely affect mentor relationships are:
- failure to communicate needs
- failure to communicate goals
- protégé’s failure to correctly assess mentor’s intentions
- emotional overdependence
- both parties’ failure to assess political environment
- mentor’s inability to control political environment
- protégé’s failure to establish other alliances.
While some of these problems may arise in any mentoring relationship, many of the disadvantages of mentoring described above are more applicable to workplace mentoring rather than mentoring relationships that take place outside the work situation. Here it is more likely that the disadvantages of mentoring will relate more to practical difficulties, such as when and where to meet, how often, and problems of sustaining a mentoring relationship at a distance. Some of the pitfalls of mentoring can be:
- lack of commitment or preparation for mentoring
- unsuitable or poorly-briefed mentors
- abuses of confidentiality and misuse of mentoring for personal or business ends
- badly-managed mentoring relationships leading to overdependence or too deep a personal involvement.
A successful mentoring relationship requires honesty, mutual respect, time, commitment, a sense of humour, regular meetings, good communication and effective feedback.
Mentoring can overcome some negative features of minority groups. One area of underrepresentation is that of women in managerial positions.
Mentoring for women
Quite a lot has been written about the ways that mentoring can help women’s career prospects. Women are a group for whom mentoring can be particularly beneficial. Mentoring has three clear advantages for women, in that it can legitimise access to key people, increase their visibility within organisations, and bestow legitimacy. However, there may be difficulties in cross-gender mentoring, such as rumour, innuendo and gossip about the nature of the relationship, jealousies between partners.
In order to resolve such difficulties, the mentoring relationship must be characterised from the start by a high level of openness and communication, with great clarity about the expectations and commitments of the parties.
In reviewing the literature on mentoring, we find that the mentoring process is possibly more critical for women than for men. There is strong evidence that successful professional women had mentors who had sigirificantlv influenced their careers.
Mentoring has benefits which extend beyond the programme. Mentoring is a valuable development experience for the mentor and the protégé and should be recognised as part of the participants’ personal development plan.
Based on the general rule that not everyone is suited to be a mentor, a filtering and selecting process should take place. Mentoring is and should be a voluntary initiative, but it should also be quality oriented. It is recommended that a selection panel be appointed to decide, from those who put their names forward, who would be better suited to join the programme. The selection is based on a questionnaire which highlights their desire, commitment, suitability and interests and skills to be shared.
It is important that mentors fully understand their role in the relationship and are particularly suited and skilled in all those areas. Mentors are responsible for managing the mentoring relationship and should be trained to do so. A successful mentoritig programmme should entail a session on what is expected from mentors and protege’s.
Mentors and protégés should obtain a manual framework for the programme. Each participant is able to refresh their memories and their experience of the basic training and will be able to measure their own skills development. Each participant have the opportunity to have embodied a personal record of their individual journey, a record of skills they have developed, collect evidence and measure success.
General caveats that should also be borne in mind are:
- the need for quality control
- ethical considerations and the need for a protected confidential mentoring relationship to be preserved
- the voluntary nature of the mentoring relationship.
The mentoring model may be appropriate for different kinds of people in different circumstances, while for others it may not be helpful. The perceived value of a mentoring is likely to be affected by the quality of existing management training and development in an organisation, and/or by the quality of a person’s relationship with their line manager. This does not mean that if both of these are good mentoring is unnecessary; mentoring is likely to fulfil a different role for each individual.
On the other hand, the demand for mentoring may be greater if the quality of the management training is less than adequate, or if the scope for individual development within an organisation is limited.
Mentoring can play a crucial role in ‘out-of-companies’ networks. Mentoring helps junior professionals receive guidance and support from senior professionals allowing them the opportunity of exploring, planning and brainstorming ideas in a safe environment. There is evidence of successful professional mentoring schemes which are run out-of-companies. All one needs to have is a common theme.