January finished with a bang with 18 corporate sales on the last day and residential sales recording the highest monthly intake for 18 months - which is quite something for a January and a 260% increase over last January. All other products and services were well above last January and all but two showed very strong gains over last December. So an excellent month to start the new year in almost every respect. Now for the hard stuff.....repeating those excellent January results each month for the rest of the year.
The 'trickle' of fibre orders (NBN, Telstra and Opticom) has shown some sign of increasing over the past 2 - 3 months and we will re-look at what we can do to improve the 'look' of the services we offer to the small areas currently covered by fibre. Opticom has tried much harder than either NBNCo or, of course, Telstra to provide sensible pricing that might allow a wholesaler like Exetel to offer realistic pricing but many barriers remain in terms of set up costs and contract lengths. We will re-address these issues this morning to see what, if anything, we can do to improve our residential fibre offerings.
Over the balance of this week we will also look at what we can now do in Tasmania, New Zealand, Corporate VoIP and selling to the top 500 corporates as becoming major sources of new revenue for Exetel. None of whatever efforts were made last year resulted in any real progress but this is a new year and we need to do new things - and do them much better than we did last year. Planning, which I would once have considered an Exetel strength, seems to be 'falling by the wayside' as our current business volumes grow, and the demands on time caused by that growth, become greater. For whatever reason, we need to address detailed planning, in more detail, than we currently seem to be doing. Perhaps too many people at Exetel have got used to 'things just happening without understanding just how much detailed work has been done by other people to "just make things happen"?
Whatever minor 'successes' we may have enjoyed over the past eight years, and they have been few and far between in the wide sweep of telecommunications in Australia, we need to become far more successful in the immediate future and beyond. The 'landscape' we now confront is very, very different to what it was in January 2004 and so is Exetel, both in size and 'composition'. Over the past eight years we have developed some pretty effective capabilities but, equally, we have also lost some capabilities we once had. To meet some of our more ambitious objectives (and they are only modestly ambitious in the grand scheme of things) we will need to do many things much better than we do them today and we will need to develop far more 'doing' people to make the most modest of our ambitions become realities.
Like any relatively sensibly directed company we have far more opportunities than we have been able to develop people to address. Like any other relatively sensibly directed company we need to find more people who can take responsibility for new opportunites with the enthusiasm and dedication (and above both of those the competence) that our 'old' people have done to make whatever we have accomplished to date happen so quickly and so well. As with everything in commercial life "it's the people - stupid". A good January is something to be pleased about but that 'inner glow' flickers and dies almost as soon as it is engendered. Exetel's reality is that unless we quickly put the right people in place to make the most of the opportunities available to us we will have substantially wasted much of whatever we have managed to achieve over the past eight years.....
......I wish I was much better at my job and was a lot younger.