Telstra charts agile future for itself and its customers

Telco expects to double number of teams using agile over next 12 months

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn

An agile approach and an increasingly reliance on cloud has helped Telstra slash software development cycles, in some cases from six to eight months to 10-12 weeks.

“We’re going through the same process that many other corporates are in other industries,” Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said on the sidelines of an event celebrating the company’s joint venture with Pivotal.

“So at the same time we’re looking to transform Telstra from a technology perspective, we’re also supporting our customers on that journey by virtue of the products and services that we provide,” Penn said.

The joint venture with Pivotal, announced in 2015, has seen the US software company train a number of Telstra teams in agile development methodologies. The collaboration has also seen the companies taking agile to other major Australian enterprises.

“We’re on a big journey in terms of adopting agile methodology within the organisation but we’re also working with our key corporate customers in conjunction with Pivotal,” Penn said.

The CEO said that the joint venture had recently signed a major Australian bank as a customer, supporting its agile transformation.

Telstra’s enterprise sales force offers Pivotal’s cloud software development platform — Cloud Foundry — while at the same time the telco has been increasingly standardising on the platform for its internal development efforts.

Penn said that agile was being employed across the telco, with both its enterprise and consumer businesses using the approach to deliver new offerings, including supporting the company’s foray into agtech services and its recent smart home products.

The CEO said that it didn’t make sense to wait six to eight months to get a product to market because by that time customer requirements are likely to have changed.

Agile “allows you to be much more interactive with the customer needs, get out to market much more quickly with a minimum viable product and then iterate and innovate,” he said.

Telstra chief information officer John Romano said that Pivotal Cloud Foundry is now the key platform for software development at the telco, although in some cases the company still needs to build on legacy platforms.

At the moment within Telstra more than 100 of the CIO’s teams are using agile, he said.

“Our objective is to go almost to 400 over the next few years,” Romano said. “It’s just about scaling up at the right time.”

The CIO expects to have some 200 teams using agile in a year and 400 a year after that.

“We’re talking about 4000-5000 people running on agile methodology in a couple of years’ time,” he said.

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