Shazalli sees strong scope for digital to replace old processes at TM, drive performance

  • TM300 leaders identified and empowered to deliver perfect execution expected
  • Any TM citizen can offer ideas on replacing current work process through digitization

Shazalli sees strong scope for digital to replace old processes at TM, drive performance

HE came into the auditorium smiling, shaking hands, engaging in casual banter with most of the journalists in the room, there to attend his, Mohammed Shazalli Ramly’s (pic), first financial results press conference as Telekom Malaysia Bhd group CEO. He was relaxed, even joking about the how the first names of his CFO, deputy CEO and his own could be made to rhyme.

One could be mistaken for thinking that Shazalli had brought with him a new sense of chill and ease to TM’s serious corporate culture. That would be a mistake, for a TM executive notes that Shazalli is, approach-wise, totally different from his predecessor, Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa. “The difference is that Shazalli is very serious and direct about performance and he’s always trying things.”

And while the executive shared that people in senior positions were quite paranoid in the early days of Shazalli coming in, they are calmer now and focused on the task at hand as there is the realization that Shazalli will not rock the boat now. “He needs buy-in, especially at senior management level.”

That senior management level is the TM300 as Shazalli calls them. Consisting of the first line leaders that were announced shortly after he came in as CEO in May and now joined by a second layer of key leaders that have been identified and announced with all 300, which includes Shazalli, “now empowered to deliver the perfect execution expected that will now drive the acceleration of convergence at TM,” said Shazalli.

And while he is under no real pressure to deliver any turnaround at TM, inheriting a steady ship that analysts have generally been happy with, with no real immediate concerns over not getting its business strategy right, there is pressure notes the TM executive.

“It seems to be coming from the government, where there is a feeling that broadband pricing can be more competitive, speeds higher and overall customer experience better,” notes the executive.

Indeed it was only last October during the budget speech that it was announced that TM would be giving home broadband customers a complimentary bump in speed in 2017 (which has happened) and with the added surprise being that the government expects TM to lower consumer broadband prices by 50% next year, a fact that Shazalli alluded to during the press conference as being an upcoming challenge TM will have to face.

And Shazalli expects nothing less than perfection from his TM citizens having coined the phrase Perfexe 10 which stands for Perfect Execution in 10 broad areas identified:

  • Brand Consolidation
  • Key execution leadership appointments
  • Expedite fiber rollout
  • Liberating WiFi and strengthening mobility
  • Accelerate GTM for new products & services
  • Consolidation of TM One organization
  • Workplace segmentation to increase manpower productivity
  • Rewiring TM customer experience culture
  • Inculcate creativity and innovation towards smarter cost management

“We have to execute perfectly in the 10 areas to make sure that all gaps, variances and challenges that we anticipate in the second half of the year are handled cleverly,” he said. Nail this and Shazalli believes that TM will be able to accelerate its convergence push and will have empowered digitization as well, not just for its customers but among its 31,000 full time and contract staff as well.   

Shazalli stressed that this empowerment of digitization is a priority in TM and made clear that he sees a lot of productivity efficiencies that will arise from replacing old processes with new digital based ones, with resultant savings in cost and in freed up employee time that can be redirected to generate revenue.

He is determined to kill old and inefficient processes and replace them with digital enabled prosesses via apps and in fact used the press conference to announce that TM was launching five new apps to replace old processes. “We anticipate sizeable cost savings because the old processes had lots of pain points and bureaucracies that hinder managing internal operations.”

While not wanting to offer specific savings expected Shazalli notes that as a rule of thumb the cost savings should be in the 35% range and with the caveat that they cannot return to the old processes again, using a medical term “cauterize” to describe how the old processes must be killed off to avoid people reverting to what was familiar and comfortable for them.

This focus on increasing workforce productivity is an area that excites Shazalli with the CEO talking about how the increased productivity through digital can free up his staff to do, in his words, “other amazing things” that will lead to their “key happiness index increasing as they are doing their jobs better and with a richer job scope”. And stressing on the liberalization of digital, Shazalli expects any TM citizen to come up and offer suggestions on how a current work process can be digitized with the old process killed off while following the rule of thumb about 35% cost savings, “and off we go” he says, adding that TM even now has its own “Jedi Council” which the avowed Star Wars fan clearly took delight in, though in TM’s case the Jedi stands for Jemaah Digital.  [Paragrah edited for accuracy.]

And with plenty of TM’s processes yet to be digitized through apps, clearly Shazalli sees this as a big area for cost and productivity improvement at TM with the chief executive noting to the media that manpower costs are a core cost component for TM. Anything that can bring that down down while increasing the opportunities for revenue are sure to bring Shazalli’s own key happiness index soaring as well.

With the various initiatives going on, including the brand consolidation of services into three services, TM’s full year 2017 results early next year will be a very interesting affair beyond the headline profit loss figures, especially if Shazalli is able to break down how performance can be attributed to some of the 10 areas he is expecting perfect execution in.

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