New Delhi: State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, or BSNL, faced with slowing sales and private phone firms chipping away at its market share, has begun restructuring itself directly reposing responsibility for its three main businesses under as many directors in place of one such board-level member and shuffling technical staff lower into customer-facing roles, the telco’s chairman and managing director has said.
The rehaul is expected to increase management focus on each business and iron out glitches in BSNL’s sales and distribution chain.
New look: BSNL chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal. The rehaul, slated to take around one and a half years to complete, is being carried out with help from Boston Consulting Group. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
“Earlier we had a director in charge of operations who looked at all the operations—be it mobile, fixed line or broadband. And then we had another director who looked into planning,” Kuldeep Goyal said in a recent interview. “We have done away with that and we have come up with a director in charge of consumer mobility—in charge of the complete mobile business be it planning, operations, sales and marketing and, most importantly, revenue.”
Director-level positions are also being created to head other businesses such as fixed-line phones and broadband access, as also enterprise businesses or business customers. Two executive directors, reporting to the directors, will be appointed in charge of networks and new businesses such as towers, Goyal said.
“This is how we are restructuring the company at the corporate level and we are doing similar thing at the district or circle level,” he added.
At the lower rungs of the company, BSNL is moving around staff from technical and other functions into customer-facing roles such as sales, marketing and distribution. “We are completely revamping the sales and distribution network,” Goyal said.
BSNL has some 296,000 staff on its rolls as of end-March.
The rehaul, slated to take around one and a half years to complete, is being carried out with help from Boston Consulting Group.
BSNL, which until fiscal 2008 was India’s largest phone services firm by revenues, was overtaken in the fiscal gone by by Bharti Airtel Ltd. Mint reported in May that BSNL will likely report revenues of Rs33,359 crore for fiscal 2009, down from around Rs38,000 crore the previous year. Bharti Airtel ended fiscal 2009 with Rs37,352 crore sales.
The state-owned telco has seen its revenues eroding as customers give up fixed-line phones, which make for nearly half the firm’s business. Edited excerpts from the interview:
Tell us more about the rehaul.
We have done a pilot (of the sales and distribution restructuring) recently in Lucknow and results have been quite encouraging. Now we are multiplying it into eight circles and then after that we will undertake another eight circles. This allows us to directly focus on the sales and distribution; that was one big bottleneck.
One problem is the customer care and complaint redressal. We have engaged some agencies which have carried out some benchmarking and whatever shortcomings are there we are trying to address. In the South we have engaged Motorola to look into managing and monitoring our network quality and improve it.
Another area is related to revenue assurance. We are starting efforts on how to make sure that customers are billed properly and revenue collections are being done properly. That is one focus area.
In the new business area, we have created a new division for our infrastructure. We have worked out a policy for sharing our infrastructure with the other service providers and are in a dialogue with them. We hope to make significant revenue by outsourcing or sharing our infrastructure. This should happen within this second quarter of the fiscal.
How’s business otherwise?
This fiscal we have started some new services like 3G... We have to see how it goes. Initial two months of course have been average as was more or less expected. This period (first quarter) is a lean period for the company, also as it is a time when a lot of our people proceed on leave and that sort of thing. (But) growth should pick up in the second quarter.
In the last fiscal, the growth was not as expected because (network) expansion did not happen as we had expected. This time, our capacity expansion has happened in three zones—the west zone is still happening in fact.
How has 3G done?
For 3G, we have right now around 9,000 customers and we have done in 70 cities, but the coverage in these cities is not complete. It is around 50% of base stations but we hope that by end-July we should be able to cover these cities completely.
It is only then that we can really go on aggressive marketing. We expect that by end-July we should have 150 cities with complete coverage.
When is BSNL expected to list on the stock markets?
For a listing, the government has to take a decision.
The worker unions have an apprehension that if BSNL is listed, it will be privatized also. The government has categorically said that it will not be privatized. They (unions) still have an apprehension that it may be done.