Strong winds of change bode well for Telekom


  • Business
  • Thursday, 14 Oct 2004

A commentary by B.K. Sidhu

IT is rare to see a Government-owned utility voluntarily giving a bonus to its customers. But that is exactly what Telekom Malaysia Bhd is doing. From Nov 1, all Streamyx broadband users will see their 512kpbs package upgraded to 1Mbps connection, at no extra cost.  

Some users are understandably delighted. But why has Telekom become so generous suddenly?  

If this is the company's new way of doing things, then it is on the right track. In fact, it is about time the process of change begins. The company can no longer remain complacent about its image of being a “slow moving dinosaur’’ when the market dynamics in which it operates have long changed.  

What group chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar told the media in a 45-minute presentation of his five broad strategies yesterday was not entirely new to some analysts. They have heard about it months ago. The new spin is in the execution.  

Among others, Telekom has big plans to integrate all its call centres into one-stop call centres for all its products. All its Kedai Telekom are to be strategically located and will act as one-stop centres. All its products and services will be bundled and marketed in a more coordinated manner.  

There are also a lot of redundancies within Telekom. For instance, it has two human resources departments, one for TM Retail and one for TM Wholesale. Indeed, the perception in some quarters is that Telekom is top heavy, with more than 150 general managers.  

Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar

But streamlining the operations is not an easy task. Many know Wahid cannot implement all the strategies alone. The entire workforce in Telekom, be it at headquarters or in offices in Arau, Sekinchang, Kudat or even Tronoh, needs to play its part.  

But even before that, a mindset shift is what Telekom really needs. That change has been the hardest to drive all these years.  

Wahid wants to give it a new twist: instil winning practices among all of the 22,250 Telekom employees. By that, he means group interest, not self-centeredness; improving teamwork; integrity - work hard and work smart; be responsive and proactive in performing all tasks; be punctual; share and “cascade” information to all levels; and speedy decision-making.  

With a more disciplined work culture and a proactive approach, the execution of the strategies would be easier, as every employee would become more aware that whatever he or she does is for the common good of the company.  

Wahid has a mandate to turn Telekom into the “communications company of choice,’’ but three years is not a long period in which to achieve that objective. It would take every effort by every employee to realise the dream; merely talking about it is not enough. Those unwilling to lend their support should make way for the willing ones, an expert said. 

Some people in the know have even suggested that it is perhaps time some in the second echelon be given a chance to help Wahid drive the changes. Wahid made it clear yesterday that if necessary, he would re-deploy staff and get the right person for the right job.  

On the subject of change, a change in customer service is a refreshing thought. Perception or no perception, it all boils down the fact that it's attitude that determines whether the level of service is bad, good or excellent. It is time that Telekom lives up to expectations.  

For a company that has a market capitalisation of RM37bil on Bursa Malaysia, Telekom is one of the country's truest blue chip counters. It should remain bright on the radar screens of global fund managers and not be the second choice.  

Wahid has done a lot of homework in the past 100 days, talking to a lot of people in Telekom, and many know he is determined to “put the house in order.” As a analyst noted, “I see change ... there's a great chance that Wahid can pull it off; he just has to bulldoze his plan through.’’  

And if that means Wahid has to crack the whip to carry out his plan, so be it for the sake of Telekom. 

Telekom’s five-pronged strategy to be more profitable TELEKOM :  [Stock Watch]  [News

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