How we helped Three overhaul their digital infrastructure for more efficiency | NTT DATA

Tue, 03 January 2023

NTT DATA helped Three overhaul digital infrastructure to better connect IT with business and transform both employee and customer experience

Ensuring better interconnectivity between internal departments means improved ability to serve the end user in a timely and efficient manner

As one of the UK’s foremost mobile network providers, Three is the market leader for network spectrum and download speeds. The telecoms and internet service provider has invested heavily in 5G during its transformation programme. Currently, Three is also the only operator able to meet the International Telecoms Union (ITU) 2020 standard for full 5G services.

Much of the basic systems had remained the same as those first 3G networks Three had when it began operations in 2003. As time went on, business areas such as billing, mediation and fraud, to credit and collection resulted in the company using over 100 different systems, making it increasingly difficult to serve customers quickly and efficiently.

Simon Gratton, Three’s Chief Data Officer, said: “As people in the industry will know, setting up a DevOps cycle where you can deploy daily is a huge undertaking for a company, where we have been more waterfall in nature. The strong competency of having NTT DATA engineers in our team, educating our internal team, and delivering that capability is a core reason why we have them with us."

“In data terms, we needed to be able to have all the information we have at our disposal in a single location, so that we were always ready for that next business question when it comes in.”

Initially, NTT DATA was brought in to do cloud optimisation and simplify the ecosystem that had mutated to that point. Because Three had experienced quite a dramatic growth in cloud services expenditure and the consumption of cloud services, whether that be on an IAS basis or a PAS basis, there was an opportunity to drive down costs while overseeing what it was consuming.

The strong competency of having NTT DATA engineers in our team, educating our internal team and delivering that capability is a core reason why we have them with us.

Simon Gratton
Chief Data Officer at Three

Collaborative approach

At Three, digital, data, core IT, and the existing transformation programme were in separate physical locations and did not have any interaction with other teams. External assistance was needed to join these departments together in order to achieve maximum synergy and realise operational efficiencies.

Following discussions with Three’s Chief Information Officer, Belinda Finch, NTT DATA set about supporting a transformation programme which required successful results within a twelve-month period.

NTT DATA also helped on the consultative side by obtaining the correct design and architecture in the cloud, which was a substantial transition for Three. Leveraging the right technology for the right outcome and generating knowledge within the wider team as part of those interactions meant that it was also having an educational impact as well as a consultive one during the transition. But primarily, bringing a cloud philosophy and mentality to the data team has been the consultative nature of NTT’s work.

NTT DATA had been involved in cloud design, development, implementation, as well as the broader infrastructure ecosystem for several years. But since Three has experienced quite a dramatic growth in expenditure regarding cloud services, both parties saw an opportunity. Three wanted to drive down costs in terms of what it was consuming and planning- then on an ongoing basis- the benefit it could get from Cloud thanks to the NTT DATA cloud data engineering capabilities.

With the information on subscribers spread across three IT estates, the time it was taking to pull together all data that could enable Three to make agile, competitive business decisions meant despite having a compelling 5G offer, it was taking too long for its products to cut through.

Mutual benefit

NTT Vice President, David Counsell, said: “Some might call it risk reward. We collectively call it gainshare. Firstly, they get a motivated partner who is driven and incentivised to generate ideas, to execute initiatives, actions and activities, and are ultimately motivated to deliver and realise cost savings on behalf of Three.”

Throughout the partnership, there were several guiding principles that informed NTT DATA to help in everything it does. The foremost principle is putting the client first, and the second revolves around bringing foresight and innovation to the client and delivering value day in and day out. The third principle is teamwork and collaboration both with the main client, its own NTT partners, and with other partners that Three UK has itself.

Prepared for the future

Gratton believes that the investment in NTT DATA’s ability to make a difference has made this one of the most successful business transformations any of the parties have ever worked on.

Having additional expertise embedded into the existing team has benefitted Three significantly, as it has helped speed up the change in internal processes and has made sure everyone understands what they are using, and why.

Gratton concluded: “They work from inside as part of the team - that's been evident throughout. Their engineers are treated like members of the team. In fact, it's indistinguishable when we're developing things, or having meetings, who is working for NTT and who is working for Three. The ‘one badge’ ethic is a big part of the transformation philosophy.”


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