Telstra elaborates on Apps and Ventures business

The telco will be looking to partner with busineses in specialised verticals like health, education, energy and e-commerce

Telstra (ASX:TLS) has detailed its plan to establish an applications and ventures subsidiary dedicated to partnering with developers to provide applications in specialised verticals such as health, education, energy and e-commerce.

A spokesperson for the telco told Computerworld Australia that by having a specialised focus the business could create partnerships with the Australian business community to explore new ideas and opportunities, grow new businesses focussed on specific sectors and bring great ideas to market.

In an ASX statement, Telstra chief executive, David Thodey, announced the new business, along with a host of customer focused appointments and initiatives, citing Telstra Business group managing director, Deena Shiff, would be relinquishing her role to head up the new business come 1 August.

“As faster broadband becomes available to more Australians, we expect and explosion in innovation and the development of new locally developed media-rich applications,” Thodey said at the time.

“Telstra will continue to provide the platform and distribution, and Deena will work closely with the Innovation and Product teams,” the spokesperson said. “She will compliment their work with particular emphasis on developing new businesses for particular market segments.”

According to the spokesperson, the business would produce applications to support specific market segments, for example, developing home monitoring services for the elderly wanting to live independently.

However, the spokesperson could not comment on what the team would look like in terms of staff just yet.

Commenting on the move to create a business dedicated to applications and ventures, Ovum research director, David Kennedy, said it reflected a change in priorities with innovation coming to the fore.

“This restructure is the idea of innovation and particularly, using innovation to position Telstra in an NBN environment,” he said. “What they’re going to be looking for is new service that will give them a sustainable competitive advantage in an NBN world.

“It’s really about maintaining their share of revenue growth and what they’re going to need to do is position themselves as an enabler in the market for companies that want to deliver services to their business and household customers, but don’t want to get into the telecommunications game themselves.

According to Kennedy, services where there are some real opportunities include the provision of Cloud based services in the SME segment, and establishing platforms to use in distance education for universities.

“They could provide the whole Cloud infrastructure, from storage to processing power to actually running online applications, all of the infrastructural elements used to support the service,” he said.

“What we see emerging are national transactional infrastructures to support things like Medicare payments at point of sale and things of that nature… Telstra is going to be positioning itself as the natural partner for companies or agencies that want to deliver those kinds of services.”

Kennedy also noted that he expects other major telcos to follow Telstra’s lead, with Optus recently following Telstra into the Cloud space.

“I’d expect to see similar competition in this area whether they choose to structure it in this way is another matter,” he said. “Innovation will definitely come up the list of priorities because when everyone is sharing the same NBN you can no longer differentiate yourself with the infrastructure anymore, you have to try to differentiate yourself in other ways.”

The telco also launched a website to provide up-to-date information on outages and restorations for customer during natural disasters, with the company’s director network and IT operations, Craig Hancock, noting his team had learnt a lesson following the Queensland Floods and Cyclone Yasi.

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