By Jon Michail

Telstra’s retiring boss David Thodey recently said he has no regrets from his six years at the helm, but is the first to admit that some things might have gone better. Even so, during that time, Telstra’s market cap has doubled – almost to $80bn – and a deal with NBN will see Telstra receive almost $100 billion over the next 30 years.

Thodey is upbeat about the rapid pace of change to the telco sector. He says that disruptive technologies and innovative technology start-ups are the real risks to Telstra’s success. He’s the first to say, however, that Telstra wants to be part of that as well.

Prime examples are the disruptive start-up messaging service WhatsApp, and international broadband players like Singapore’s MyRepublic with their tempting new pricing models.

Thodey states, “They are the models that we try to look at in terms of where we need to go — different pricing structures and different ways that people can disrupt an industry where the value is not as a provider of carriage but in some other value creation.”

He adds, “There are innovative ways to provide voice and data services and that’s great – we want to be part of that as well.”

In addition to the ever-growing and seemingly insatiable need for Australia’s digital services, Thodey sees the emerging Asian middle classes as a vital growth prospect for Telstra. In 2021, when the profit stream from the copper network comes under the full control of the National Broadband Network, these strong growth sectors will become the new revenue generators. Telstra is now well-positioned to take advantage of these new wealth streams.

Established companies like Telstra are looking closely at tier-three competition, innovative new start-ups and their radical new ways of marketing themselves. As Thodey says, their innovations will change the way Telstra is operating, and so set a new direction for the giant.

During his tenure, Thodey spear-headed the incredible recovery and growth of a company reeling from one of the worst periods in its history. Telstra is now reoriented to take full advantage of the new growth sectors.

His hope is that he’ll be remembered for his focus on creating shareholder value and serving Telstra’s ­customers and there’s no doubt about that.

The future is full of unlimited possibilities and offer much growth to businesses that have the vision and courage to creatively disrupt their business model before their competitors do.

How is technological disruption affecting your industry?

Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives and entrepreneurs to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.

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