Inside Telstra Purple: Telstra's new professional services business

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Inside Telstra Purple: Telstra's new professional services business

Telstra's new "Purple" services offering is currently mostly a brand, but the carrier is already deeply integrating the nine businesses that make up the new entity and building an approach to service delivery that takes the best of its recent acquisitions and put their culture behind new products.

’Purple was revealed last week when Telstra announced it had combined its own enterprise business with nine companies that it has acquired in recent years  - Kloud, Readify, VMtech, O2 Networks, Bridgepoint, MSC Mobility, NSC, iVision and Company85. But Telstra didn't explain how those pieces fit together, so CRN asked Purple's lead Christopher Smith for those details.

Smith told CRN that integrations on the front-end are ready, and the business is engaging customers with its new name and branding. But there’s still ongoing work on integrating the various company’s back-end systems and, more importantly to Smith, building elements of a common culture.

Smith said it was imperative to maintain the cultures of each business while broadening all of their capabilities.

“We decided to build Telstra Purple because it gives us a framework to do that. It also gives us a simplified messaging for our customers, as well as our app teams from an integration perspective,” Smith told CRN.

“Kloud, Readify and VMtech, if you think of them as kind of the later three acquisitions in Australia, all have strong brands that are still quite visible. While they’re great, particularly Kloud and Readify, there is some crossover in capability, in particular, in application development capability for the Microsoft stack. This gives us the ability to bring those communities and capabilities together at the same time as building the culture for Telstra Purple.”

Telstra Purple was specifically announced as a professional and technical services provider, but there’s still fully fledged managed services offerings from some of the merged companies. Smith confirmed that Telstra Purple will have its own managed services capabilities too.

“VMtech probably has the most advanced managed services capability out of the acquisitions we’ve made, but there are managed services in Kloud, Readify, and what was O2 networks and Bridgepoint in the network and security space.”

“The most important thing is the people-culture aspects. The belief structures, what we stand for, bringing that to life and the vivid vision we’ve developed, that work just doesn’t happen overnight. We’re engaging with the 1500 people across Telstra Purple, so that’s an ongoing piece of work that’ll continue.”

While integrating 1500 staff from nine companies sounds like a Herculean feat, Smith admitted the culture among those companies is similar in a lot of regards.

“They’re different in how they talk and some of their ceremonial aspects, but when you strip away the naming and labels, the way they engage with their customers and the way each of the teams talk about how they engage and what they stand for, it’s very similar. That’s why I think the story behind our name and the message that we have has resonated with the team so well. When we’re asked about how quickly these integrations will happen, this will accelerate that because we’ve very deliberately come across a unifying narrative.”

Smith places a lot of importance in those “ceremonies” in shaping each company’s identity and culture. For example, Readify’s “Back to Base” concept sees staff debrief each quarter for a day of development and training. Smith said these kinds of ceremonies will be brought to the rest of the Telstra Purple team, and that “Back to Base” in particular would likely be adopted.

He also revealed Purple’s revamped “Squads” structure. The company deploys teams of around 60 consultants and engineers led by a squad leader to complete projects. The squad leader is accountable for the squad’s profitability and customer outcomes.

“The idea behind that is you have the skills from both of those, you’ve got everything from design, data analytics, application development, cloud migration and public cloud,” said Smith.

There are currently three squads in NSW, including one comprised of former Kloud and Readify staffers which offers service from both companies.

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