Five weeks in, the new executive vice president of B2B for T-Mobile and Drew Kelton already seems to have a clear vision of the direction he wants to go. Kelton comes to T-Mobile from Bharti Airtel Business where he served as president for three years in the ultra-competitive carrier market of India. He plans to put that experience toward differentiating T-Mobile in the B2B market by focusing on providing services instead of economics.
Wireless Week: What’s new for T-Mobile B2B?
Drew Kelton: We have a dramatically changing industry landscape and the thing that’s cool about it from T-Mobile’s perspective is, firstly, we’re carrying limited legacy and our market share is relatively low in the business space and therefore there’s huge amounts of upside. The second piece, we are not trying to protect legacy types of engagements or relationships with customers. Read that around the traditional M.O. of the large corporate buying or the company-owned, company-paid model. There’s an industry transition toward a BYOD individual-liable with company reimbursement model and the cool thing about that for us is, because I’m not trying to protect any legacy, I will disruptively stimulate that transition. We’ll be more compelling in helping an individual have freedom of choice while also blending their business and their lifestyle on the device and of course that then lends itself to areas like containerization of data on devices and mobile device management.
The smaller side of the business market and I mean smaller in terms of physical numbers rather than by aspirational growth, volumes or revenues, they will be much easier and earlier adopters of this than larger corporations because they will have limited legacy systems in place.
We are always going to the un-carrier for business, we will be flexible, we will provide a suite of bundled, integrated options and there’ll be areas where we continuously evolve our solutions as customers make new and interesting demands of us.
WW: How do you avoid getting to a point where you do have legacy systems to protect as T-Mobile starts to grow in the B2B space?
Kelton: What I mean by saying T-Mobile is not worried about protecting legacy systems is that I’m not worried about cannibalization or a fixed voice-and-data network for the customer because I’m stimulating mobility-enabled solutions. Because I’m purely a mobile solutions provider, I’m not worried about cannibalizing our other revenues.
As you get scale and growth in a business then you have to be considerate that you don’t put yourself into the technology cul-de-sac. I think the way you avoid that is you don’t always try to build it yourself. You look for partners, particularly around mobile applications and solutions that provide off-the-shelf capability that at worst case need to be integrated but at best case may not. I genuinely think we must remove complexity from this portfolio.
The last thing you want to find in any proposition is the hidden things you didn’t know about. I looked up some websites for other major operators the other day. We’re looking at launching a new capability which you’ll hear about shortly. But on these websites and there is nothing but confusion, complexity and the hidden, unwanted benefits. So one of the things we’ll bring to the table is all-you-can-eat plans. We’re going to launch out some cool stuff with the global roaming platform which has just come out with the international flat rate. We won’t add them as extras. There’ll be a business plan that is inclusive.
The interesting piece of that concept is that we have to move the industry from cost to value. I bought a car last weekend and I optioned it up with things like split air conditioning for the rear seats. Why? Because it was included with the package. I have no clue whether I’ll ever need split air conditioning for the rear seats but the package seemed like a better value than the sum of the parts. If you take that analogy and apply it to a suite of business plans, that’s where we’re going to go.
WW: So we should expect simplification of existing services instead of new services from T-Mobile?
Kelton: Think of things like the international flat rate plan. The service is not new but the concept that you’re not going to get gouged when you get back from a two-week business trip is certainly a new way of looking at the business.
Growth markets are spending more time trying to create value for the customer than thinking about phone systems, mobile, applications and solutions. I think there’s an opportunity for us to be one of the mobile-enabled solutions providers of choice in growth markets. What I’m looking to do is, how can I provide something to a business that enables them to have a more engaging and compelling experience with their customers?
I had a very interesting meeting with SAP at CTIA and we hypothesized that small or mid-market businesses could get away with about five basic applications: sales force tracking, HR, accounting, billing and inventory. So if you could get these apps off the shelf and build them into a package, we could be building business solutions entirely for organizations, which is new and different. I hypothesize and it won’t be that far until that hypothesis turns into a reality, that we will start to provide a much richer range of services than just the mobile-enabled solutions in terms of the actual network. And you don’t do it on your own. You find the right ecosystem of partners to work with. You’ll start to see me making announcements over the next quarter or so of the type of partnerships we’re driving toward.