Michael's Happenings

Vodafone’s Future:Now Roadshow in Wellington – Some Reflections

Over the past couple of days I was in Wellington to participate in Vodafone’s Future:Now Roadshow. Wednesday was an all-hands-on deck rehearsal day, and Thursday was the roadshow – for Vodafone staff in the morning, and then enterprise / business / government clients in the afternoon. Some reflections:

1. Vodafone in New Zealand has come a long way since buying BellSouth back in the late 90s. I remember buying a BellSouth phone and going on account back in … 1995. In his opening keynote, Vodafone’s CEO Russell Stanners painted the history of Vodafone globally and here in New Zealand. It was a story I wasn’t familiar with, and it was a quite incredible story too. I loved this factoid – the original business plan in the mid 1980s for Vodafone in the UK was based on getting 100,000 cellphone subscribers. 409 million subscribers later – around the world – here we are. And some of the case studies that Russell talked about, such as the work Vodafone has done with the NZ Police and IRD, were very cool (my term for “what a tremendous business idea”).

2. There were a couple of other main stage presentations – about Vodafone’s Enterprise business, and about the Vodafone network in New Zealand currently, and where Vodafone is going next with it. And it’s not just a mobile network now either, due to the acquisition of TelstraClear in late 2012.

3. Once the main stage keynotes were completed, there was a set of Vodafone and partner pods in the showcase, as well as four breakout labs. The labs were Stay Competitive, Operate Efficiently, Manage Security, and Work Flexibly. I was the moderator for the Operate Efficiently lab, which had five different presentations each of 20 minutes.

4. The presentations in the Operate Efficiently lab were these:

#thinksocial by Mike Wilson from Vodafone. He talked about where social media and digital marketing is at in New Zealand, and presented Vodafone’s 7 Pillars of Social Media. He closed with a couple of best practices. Due to his time constraints, Mike pre-selected two pillars to speak to, and then asked the audience to select the third. That dynamic worked well, and Mike then migrated to the Vodafone Hub in the middle of the showcase for questions and discussions. I loved one of Mike’s opening lines – “data beats opinion.” We used that line later on the lab, and also in modified form – “data beats excuses.”

Unified Communications was a Vodafone presentation about Vodafone’s current delivery and future roadmap for a network / cloud / hosted unified communications service, as opposed to an on-premises approach. I presented this session, and based on some feedback during the rehearsal day, was able to tighten up the message for Thursday.

Unlocking the Potential was presented by Rob Spray, the General Manager of Avaya New Zealand. He showcased some of the capabilities in Avaya’s on-premise unified communications platform. What really stood out to me was the first big idea he demonstrated, and that was the ability to have a number owned by a business diverting to a cellphone owned by an employee. Clearly that’s not a breakthrough idea, but the a-ha moment for me was the pairing of this with the BYOD trend. If you encourage employees to bring their own devices, how does the business retain control over the customer when the employee gives out their personal cellphone number? The Avaya capability did away with this, hiding the employee’s cellphone number and allowing a business number to be used instead.

Collaboration Has Never Been Easier was presented by Richard Bishop, the Collaboration Sales Manager at Asnet Technologies. He explained the benefits of video collaboration, and highlighted the role of mobile devices for video collaboration as opposed to room-based video conferencing. He was joined by Fletcher from Vodafone, who gave a short case study on how video collaboration has re-invented his role. And then Richard brought in a couple of colleagues who were offsite, to present the final ideas and slide. We had a bit of fun with that.

Smart Energy Management was the fifth and final session in the Operate Efficiently lab, and it highlighted the power of data to help with reducing electricity spend. Jo from Vodafone and Jeremy Allen from Energy Solution Providers explained how the use of smart meters, with data going across Vodafone’s network, had enabled them to help ASB Bank save $8.2 million in electricity over recent years. And also what they are doing with other customers. It was a great story, and a tremendous way to end the lab.

5. The cost of moderating the Operate Efficiently lab was that I couldn’t go and listen to any of the other sessions. I was particularly interested in hearing the Microsoft Office 365 talk, but that wasn’t possible. I may try to get the slides or a private run through next week or the week after.

6. The “locknote” – a term I haven’t heard used before for the closing keynote – was co-presented by Grant Hopkins from Vodafone and Michael from Apple. The topic was about how tablets were transforming business, and some of the examples were excellent (for example, see the Bechtel video below). Michael’s talk was very relevant given my current focus on re-imagining effective work too.

7. The roadshow content ended just after 5pm, and then everyone was invited to a networking function. I managed to score one glass of sparkling water before it all ran out (there needed to be a few more bottles available!). During the networking function I spoke with a few people, and also had an extended play with the Samsung Galaxy Note 12.2. Wow. What a very cool device. During my workshops I often want to draw on a flip chart or whiteboard, but this requires turning away from the delegates. The Note 12.2 was large enough and the stylus functional enough to draw a high-def mind map on the screen. And if I’d had the projection unit too, I could have wirelessly beamed my mind map during construction to a screen or projector. Hmmm, food for thought for a future workshop.

8. The physical setup of the roadshow, the amount and complexity of the AV equipment, the lighting … wow.

9. So all-in-all, a very good day. I’m looking forward to the roadshow in Christchurch next week, and Auckland the week after.

Categories: Michael's Happenings