Founded in 1842, POST Group, based in Luxembourg, is the country’s largest provider of postal, telecommunications, philatelic and financial services. Being the incumbent operator in Luxembourg offering services to over a million customers, POST Luxembourg is in the process of consolidating its IT platforms to provide non-differentiated services for its customer base, support centralized operations for both fixed and mobile networks and ultimately improve the customer experience through proactive customer care and innovative digital service offerings. POST Luxembourg and ZTE are working together on a project which aims at realizing business convergence by deploying ZSmart BSS suite developed by ZTE’s subsidiary ZTESoft. At a recent partnership signing ceremony, ZTE Technologies interviewed Claude Strasser, CEO of POST Luxembourg, and Pierre Zimmer, CSO of POST Luxembourg. They outlined the company’s challenges, strategy, and how they are positioning themselves in the digital era.
Could you describe Luxembourg’s telecom market?
Claude Strasser: Luxembourg is one of the main financial centers in Europe which results in a very high demand from the B2B community, i.e. banks, financial institutions, insurances, law firms etc. In addition the industry and technology sectors developed rapidly over the past years, thus increasing the demand for a full range of high quality ICT services and state-of-the-art products. This makes Luxembourg a very challenging and highly dynamic telecom market.
How important is the telecom business for POST?
Claude Strasser: The telecom business is by far the largest business for POST. It accounts for three quarters of our turnover and roughly two thirds of our employment.
What business challenges are you facing in the telecom market?
Claude Strasser: As the biggest operator in Luxembourg, POST is facing an increasing demand for high quality products and services from a highly diversified customer base. This is why we’ve taken the strategic decision to go for full fixed-mobile convergence products. For the fixed network we are deploying fiber on a national scale, and we are currently in the process of connecting every single household and every single company. On the mobile technology side, we are offering 4G plus, and we will offer the future-generation 5G to our customers in the very near future.
What’s your strategy of going forward?
Claude Strasser: One element of the strategy is the full convergence of fixed and mobile for the B2C customer base, as mentioned before. On the B2B side we will broaden our product range for ICT services on top of the classical connectivity and the classic mobile and fixed telecom products. Another very important area is the M2M business, which is now broadening to IoT. This is clearly an important path of growth in the future.
Digital transformation is a priority for telecom operators. What role does IT play in POST’s digital transformation?
Pierre Zimmer: IT is playing a crucial role in the digital transformation. Indeed the IT department is the central link between the different business lines of POST, which gives IT the global picture of the company’s operational processes as well as the customers’ needs. We are deploying every effort to deliver state-of-the-art products and services to a highly automated customer base, this with a steadily reduced time-to-market. IT has also a key role to play in order to identify synergies between the different business lines and propose technical solutions to enhance existing processes, thus boosting operational efficiency and reducing cost.
What have been your IT-related initiatives?
Pierre Zimmer: As we are striving to continuously increase our customer experience, we have launched the Möbius project with the objective to transform the legacy systems onto a unified platform to improve time-to-market, maximize process automation and provide 360 degree view portal services in real-time for both fixed and mobile services.
How can the Möbius project support POST’s digital transformation efforts? What are your major concerns?
Pierre Zimmer: Möbius is a fundamental transformation project which involves IT specialists as well as business experts from the front- and back-end side. The new platform we are putting in place allows a more agile and dynamic way of working which will improve our efficiency and enables us to deliver high quality services and products to our customers.
With the implementation of Möbius, the current operational landscape will completely change, which represents a challenge for POST’s employees, as they will work in a complete new environment.
Claude Strasser: The new platform will also enable customers to have an easier access to our products through highly flexible interfaces.
How do you ensure that user experience is unaffected during the migration process?
Pierre Zimmer: We have a product called My POST enabling customers to use our products and services via mobile devices or computers. The aim is to seamlessly move from the old system to the new environment. The new interface with the customers will offer more flexibility and in a second phase it will enable us to offer new products and services in a more efficient and faster way.
What are the services you are going to offer based on the new system?
Claude Strasser: First of all, there is the convergence of our products which we don’t have today. We currently do not have one integrated system. For instance, we still have separate invoices for fixed and mobile offers, which will be merged into one single invoice. A major improvement for customers will be the advantage to have online access to nearly 100% of our products and services. Another milestone will be considerably reduced time-to-market for our product and service offerings. Every small change to a product or a service means a huge configuration change in the background. We believe that ZTE’s ZSmart 8 BSS suite will enable POST Luxembourg to provide an improved customer experience for consumers and business customers with dramatically improved service and product catalogue rollout times.
What are some of the challenges you need to tackle in your new role as CSO?
Pierre Zimmer: The first priority is to translate POST’s strategy into a clear action plan with benchmarks and milestones. In order to achieve our short, medium and long term goals, we have taken the strategic approach to set up dedicated project teams of IT and business experts, acting in an agile mode in order to develop innovative products and services with a reduced time to market. One example of such a dedicated task force is the Möbius project, which will completely change POST’s operating landscape as well as the interaction with our customers.
Another challenge we have to tackle results from the regulations in Luxembourg. Being a very mature market with highly automated professional players, the regulators have decided to set a stringent legal framework, what implies some constraints for market players, but also creates new business opportunities which POST is well positioned to take up.
How do you evaluate the cooperation with ZTE?
Claude Strasser: The cooperation between POST and ZTE has proven to be fruitful and efficient. In the beginning teams had to overcome some hurdles such as culture and language differences. The fact that employees from ZTE moved to Luxembourg and worked together with their colleagues from POST improved the communication and helped people to better understand each other’s way of working. The cooperation between our two organizations has evolved to our entire satisfaction and we are very happy with ZTE’s responsiveness to our business needs.
What do you think of the significance of the agreement signed ? What are your expectations for a future cooperation?
Claude Strasser: The signing of the partnership agreement demonstrates the commitment of ZTE to support POST Luxembourg in its strategic IT digitalization project. There are important milestones to be met in 2018. We are confident that by joining forces the Möbius project will be a success, and that the collaboration between our two companies could be further broadened in the future.
What’s your vision for POST’s future?
Claude Strasser: POST’s strategic vision is very clear. Being the incumbent operator in Luxembourg offering products and services to over a million customers, POST Luxembourg needs to consolidate its scattered IT platforms to provide non-differentiated services to its customer base, support centralized operations for both fixed and mobile networks and ultimately improve the customer experience through proactive customer care and innovative digital service offerings. Delivering high quality services and products with faster roll-out times, while reducing costs significantly, will be key to defend our market share. A fierce competition and the relatively small size of Luxembourg are the main challenges. For the past 25 years, we’ve proven that we have been able to defend our position in the market, and we are deploying every effort to stay competitive and successfully position ourselves in the digital era.
Could you tell us more about the size challenge?
Claude Strasser: Luxembourg being a relatively small country means that you have a limited customer base. Today, POST is the biggest operator in Luxembourg, and delivering value added services and high quality products to our customers differentiates us from our competitors. This becomes even more important in the future in order to stay competitive.
Any plan for expanding your market?
Claude Strasser: Growth for us is definitely not limited to the Luxembourg market. We are looking at M2M and IoT. Penetrating international markets needs to be prepared carefully, both in terms of business opportunities and financial investments.
POST has a long history. How do you balance tradition and modernity?
Claude Strasser: Founded in 1842, POST Luxembourg is the country’s largest provider of postal and telecommunications services and also offers financial and philatelic services. POST’s strategy is to maintain our three historic business lines, which implies that we have to continuously enhance our service and product catalogues. Having the biggest market share in Luxembourg, POST continuously strives to satisfy the customers’ demands for first-class service and state-of-the-art products.
POST Luxembourg owns its fixed and mobile infrastructure, and together with POST Telecom, offers secure, superfast broadband connectivity solutions, as well as voice and data management services to private individuals as well as professionals. POST Luxembourg also offers telecom and ICT services internationally and is a leading operator for M2M services in Europe.
For the telecom business POST has opted for ZTE as strategic partner to make the digital transformation a success. With regards to the traditional postal business, we are focusing more on the parcel business. We are collaborating with logistics providers and POST has signed partnership agreements with Chinese companies which use Luxembourg as a hub for parcels delivered to Europe. We focus on digital transformation which is the key success factor for all of our three business lines. We are looking forward to the challenges ahead.
Digital Era, Luxembourg, POST, Europe