Home杭州桑拿 › We knew the end of the text boom was coming: Optus chairman Paul O’Sullivan

We knew the end of the text boom was coming: Optus chairman Paul O’Sullivan

would know it had progressed on the innovation front “when business heroes are as well known as our sports heroes,” says Optus chairman Paul O’Sullivan. Photo: Josh Robenstone GE CEO Geoff Culbert says startups are the natural enemy of established companies. Photo: Josh Robenstone
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It was a trip to Silicon Valley that convinced Optus that the end of the text message boom was coming.

Optus chairman Paul O’Sullivan​ said a visit to the thriving startup community in San Francisco about five years ago to meet with venture capitalists and others who were disrupting the telecommunications industry was a tipping point.

“Four/five years ago we made money selling you voice and text plans,” Mr OSullivan said. “These days you all use WhatsApp or something equivalent. Voice is given away for free. For most plans, we’re selling data.”

“We sat in Silicon Valley a few years ago and we knew this wave was about to hit us,” he said. “And there’s more.”

Mr O’Sullivan said countries like Singapore had been more “systemic” than had in preparing for change.

would know it had progressed on the innovation front “when business heroes are as well known as our sports heroes”.

Mr O’Sullivan, who was speaking at The n Financial Review Workforce and Productivity Summit in Melbourne on Tuesday, said the ability to innovate was also closely linked to diversity.

The more diverse a company’s workforce, the more likely it was to come up with innovative ideas.

ASX companies were now embracing diversity. That had to now “filter all the way through, right through to leadership”, he said.

Optus had a deliberate strategy to have greater diversity in terms of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation, he said.

Also speaking at the summit was GE chief executive Geoff Culbert. He said GE, which currently operates in 175 countries worldwide and has about 350,000 employees, had also met with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who were trying to disrupt their business.

“It’s hard when you’re an established company,” Mr Culbert said. “The startup is the natural enemy of the mature company.”

GE’s eight business lines were each, on their own, delivering about $5 billion in annual revenue. “They would be Fortune 500 companies in their own right,” he said.

But even so, the company could be disrupted, if it didn’t embrace change.

The challenge for established companies was how you go from “linear thinking to exponential thinking”.

GE was meeting this challenge by moving from being “a company that makes hardware to one that makes software”.

“We have plans to become one of the world’s leading software businesses by 2020,” he said.

It had made $1 billion investment into software over past five years, and had 15,000 software engineers working in the company globally.

The company’s internal culture had also changed. GE was now using an app, available to its employees on their phones, where managers and staff could send one another feedback in real time.

Mr Culbert said this system could now be rolled out for performance reviews.

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