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Telstra boss Andy Penn settles in for the long haul

Just how much premium Telstra can command on that customer experience will depend on how well its bet on software-driven processes pays off.

From answering customer queries and managing network capacity to spinning out new products and services, software and data will be at the heart of how seamlessly the various divisions inside Telstra can work together.

It doesn’t necessarily scream Google or Amazon, but this is exactly the type of technology ambition a telco the size of Telstra needs to aspire to.

The telco’s current customer service approach, with its growing emphasis on customers using the My Telstra app, is far from perfect but it’s only one piece of a bigger puzzle and will continue to improve as the systems become better equipped to deal with customer needs.

Telstra does have an opportunity to capitalise on changing consumer behaviour, with many customers more at ease in using digital channels during the pandemic-induced lockdowns. Its competitors face similar opportunities. But for the time being, Telstra’s outlook hasn’t been this optimistic in quite some time.

When Penn does finally decide to log off, he will leave behind a very different Telstra. The main consumer business will be powered by a densely rolled out 5G network in the metros, software will be at the heart pretty much everything the telco will do- from customer service to serving remote mining sites. And the lucrative infrastructure business will be in an orbit of its own.

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