Vodafone’s CEO, Nick Read, announced the integration of Vodafone European technology organizations across network and IT as part of Vodafone’s Q3 FY21 trading update

“Today we are an organization with CTOs in each of the markets and then we have group functions, We are vertically integrating those functions – networks and IT digital – for the whole European group, so they act as one organization driving a standardized roadmap.”

Operational Organizational change will ultimately determine success

Vodafone’s announcement that it intends to restructure its technology and IT estate, is to be welcomed (if it can be made to work this time). Aligning technology across multiple Vodafone opcos could spur common high value platforms and new innovative products. However, it is the operational and organizational restructuring that will dictate the success of this common technology (whether in house developed or not). Conway in the in his famous “law” noted that “organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.” In Vodafone’s case these organizations, in the form of very separate opcos, remain in place.

The operational transformation challenge is something we consider in detail in OSS Sea Change; Success means forgetting everything you knew about OSS . . . and thinking differently

Re-separation of networks and IT

At a time where the network is increasingly being viewed as just another part of the software/IT stack, it is also interesting that Vodafone has chosen to split its IT and network technology roles.  The split of IT from Network is a subtle one, but there is a risk that this subtlety is lost. It will be Important for Vodafone to communicate precisely the new responsibilities and expectations, and not allow the retrenching of existing demarcations between IT and Networks.

Image courtesy of Photo by Jan Zajc from FreeImages