by Gaurav Sharma

Truphone CIO sees technology and roaming driving expansion

Mar 31, 20144 mins
CareersIT LeadershipIT Strategy

An evolving IT estate has been the key enabler for business expansion at Truphone, according to CIO and COO Colin Windsor.

Furthermore, being a mobile telephony operator with a unified global network infrastructure meant the estate itself was “born global”, Windsor told CIO UK.

“We’re shaking things up in the sector with aspirations of offering a global service with a local feel from billing to mitigation of ‘traditional’ roaming. I run centralised systems and share a tariff around the world. All of this enabled by technology and the way we have configured products and services on the back of it,” he added.

Windsor said Truphone deploys six datacentres around the world to do localised switching. Much of the company’s developmental work is done between the UK and Portugal, with various software providers intertwined in the mix.

“Atop this I have 10 members of staff reporting directly to me, all of whom can be described as IT and operations executives. Given my COO remit alongside the IT function, we have a hybrid team that works well for us. Collectively, we have basically rebuilt everything in the Truphone infrastructure ovet the last three years.”

Windsor says he is all for outsourcing, but deployment is always relative to corporate needs. “I am a massive fan of Software as a Service (SaaS). It has enable us to grow globally and sell services in eight countries [Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, UK and US] in double quick time.”

“That said, there a couple things you fundamentally have no chance to outsource. Architecture is a key component of your evolution – if you don’t own or control it, you’ll lose direction on where you are going. So my philosophy is to keep in-house what’s unique to us.”

Windsor’s team started the deployment of Salesforce two years ago, starting with Service Cloud and then extending that with sales capability. “Even in the case of Salesforce, where have a base commodity capability in sales, its customisation is something we have taken control of.”

Despite the ongoing technology driven changes, Windsor did not share the company’s IT budget. “All I’d say is that if you build a system from scratch, there are costs involved.”

Truphone has also seen a large increase in demand for Bring Your Own device (BYOD) from its employees and is responding in kind. “Given the sector we operate in, it’d be ironic if we discouraged BYOD. One is the realism aspect of it; the other is the practicality of it and we’ve ticked both boxes.”

Windsor allows employees to have any kind of device they want with security systems in place. And the Truphone CIO is definitely in the disruptor camp.

“Legacy mobile telephony companies just didn’t contemplate a world without roaming. We began life with that thought in mind and created our network capability as such. So in every sense of the word, we are disruptors to the old way of doing things. We are shaking up not just the market, but the entire way of thinking and its good fun! If the challenge of status quo needs addressing on behalf of users – we’re game.”

Windsor, a former BT Openreach executive and PwC partner, says he’s been lucky that his creative licence as a professional was never curtailed over the three decades he’s been in the industry.

“Perhaps CIOs in a number of sectors find their boards resistive to change. However, in the telecoms market, professionals such as me get a pretty good hearing. I can vouch for this from personal experience at BT Openreach, which despite being owned by a legacy telecommunications giant born out of deregulation in the 1990s, allowed forward facing ideas to flourish – from process monitoring to building systems.

“Furthermore, at BT Openreach we were working to create capability for clients to have equal access to the network and basically changing the way the UK industry was evolving. So in many ways, my engagement at BT and my current role at Truphone have innovation as the common denominator.”