TSTT Makes A Turnaround
After sending home over 500 employees last year in a restructuring exercise, TSTT has returned to growth and it’s CEO Dr Ronald Walcott says the company is profitable once again. In an interview with the Sunday Business Guardian, Walcott said the company has made a significant turnaround. “We are a year on from where we’ve made some fundamental transformation initiatives. As of October, the company’s operating profit is in excess of $160 million. So we’ve made a significant turnaround in the organisation,” Walcott said. He noted that the company’s digital transformation strategy has played a major role in the results of the company. “The fundamental reason we had to transform the business is that we were set up, like most traditional telecoms, as a telecommunications company. So you have all of these switches and exchanges and systems that are designed around voice telephony, that’s out the window—it’s done,” he said. Walcott argued that everything is on broadband now, whether it’s on wi-fi through a 4G or 3G connection somewhere.
Walcott said there were two strategies implemented in getting the company to a healthy bottom line. “There is the revenue side and there is also the efficiency side,” he said. Walcott argued that efficiency refers to how effective the company is at attaining the revenue it needs to create and save. “A lot of what we did with the organisational transformation was not just around staff numbers, it was also around making the organisation more efficient. So our operating expense is significantly less than it was prior, not just in terms of employee costs but maintenance costs.” He gave the example of migrating a client from copper to wireless. When this is done, Walcott contends the company has not only given the client better technology and better abilities, but it also creates cost saving for the company. “Right now on our wireless network, for example, we do more than 80 per cent of troubleshooting remotely, so you don’t have to send people out to people’s homes; that’s a much more efficient operation,” Walcott said. As a result, Walcott explained the company’s operating expenses have gone down significantly. “We continue to look for ways to get more efficient and, as you roll out better technology that is more robust and so on, your efficiency actually increases so your operating expense goes down.”
With regard to revenue, the company has now created a platform called e-tender and it has also recently deployed 5G. Walcott noted that e-tender is something created at TSTT. “It’s a full end-to-end software as a service (SAAS) that we are providing to customers and we have Caribbean governments that have shown interest. In fact, we’ve signed one recently.” Walcott disclosed that the product has also been demoed in Asia and Germany. “One of the ways that we’re moving the business forward is that we are not now restricted to the T&T geography. We are in advanced discussions with companies in Jamaica and Antigua to provide SAAS, managing services, etc because we have the ability and the technology here. It’s a whole new business model.” 5G establishment As part of TSTT’s strategic plan, the company has established fixed wireless access 5G technology as a revenue creation mechanism. Although he could not give a local figure, Walcott explained that 5G technology, according to global statistics, will generate hundreds of billions of dollars. “We also have to look, as an organisation, for new lines of revenue. So 5G allows us to target SME customers who do not have access to the type of technological capabilities that some of their bigger counterparts have. So we’ll be able to look for new lines of revenue there, but also, it allows us to look at new ways of doing business.” TSTT is thinking globally. “We made that statement very clearly in our strategic plan. We’ll have organic growth which is what we are talking about locally. We plan to do implement 5G in agriculture.” Walcott expressed that the company always intended to move from 4G fixed wireless access into 5G. “It was designed that way and the idea behind this particular approach is one where we are providing possibilities. It’s about the ability to do things that we were not able to do before.” There are things in 5G that are different to 4G according to Walcott. He also said that it is not just about speed. “There are three district characteristics that separate 5G which are greater latency (speed at which a signal responds to a command), more simultaneous connections, and more reliability.” He added that 5G has reduced cost all around the world and believes that it can be done in T&T as well. He argued that farmers can implement 5G technology in their operations and reduce costs by 20 to 40 per cent.
TSTT’s strategic plan involves showing companies how 5G can be utilised to transform the way they do business. Recently in the media, there have been comments to, fro and between TSTT, TATT and Digicel. Responding to this Walcott said, “I do not intend to get into a war of words with Digicel and/or with TATT. I have said what I have to say. My focus is on TSTT. They have their own business to concern themselves with. I concern myself with this business.” Walcott announced that TSTT will be transforming the first floor of bmobile House into a 5G ecosystem where prospective clients will be able to come and experience 5G. He noted that if they are able to experience it, they will appreciate it.