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Vodafone creates 7,000 new software jobs in bid for IT autonomy

Operator group Vodafone is aiming to improve its in-house IT competence by adding thousands of new software engineers to its European workforce.

The consensus among operators is that they need to significantly improve their broader technology skills if they hope to be more than the dreaded dump pipes. Some, such as Dish in the US, have decided the most efficient way to do this is to outsource pretty much all of its tech needs. Vodafone apparently prefers to keep as much as possible in-house, hence this announcement.

“Vodafone is rapidly shifting up the gears to support the dramatic digital transformation that businesses and society are undergoing,” said Johan Wibergh, Vodafone CTO. “We are building a global software brand with a diverse and inclusive culture, providing superfast connectivity and powerful digital products – however and wherever customers want to use them.”

The now familiar rhetoric about evolving from a communications service provider to a digital service provider, which essentially means offering more than just boring old connectivity, is the underlying theme here. ‘Expanding its software capabilities will allow Vodafone to build differentiated products and services at lower cost and own the intellectual property (IP) rather than sourcing them through suppliers. Insourcing expertise generates savings of 20%, on average, for Vodafone,’ explains the press release.

It aims to fill these 7,000 vacancies over the next three years through a combination of external recruitment and re-skilling existing employees. They will join the 9,000 software engineers already housed in Vodafone Technology, a group function designed to be used by all is European operations to help them launch digital services more quickly and with greater coordination. We’re told Vodacom in Africa is adopting a similar approach.

Trying to inject Silicon Valley-style inventiveness and agility into operators that, in many ways, have more in common with utility companies is no small undertaking. Creating dedicated, ring-fenced functions such as Vodafone Technology would seem to be a sensible approach, so long as the experts within them are given free rein to do their techie thing.

‘They will be given the freedom to experiment and invent new services using cloud native digital architecture,’ insists the Vodafone press release. Assuming they’re successful, the next challenge will be persuading the other parts of the business to incorporate them into their commercial offerings. Then all they’ve got to do is compete with the US tech giants for consumer digital spend. Simple.


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