Nov 25, 2015
  • If ever in the history of the comms sector there was a clear case for driving business transformation it must be now, according to Derek Nutley, Country Manager, Devoteam UK (and group-wide Head of Network Transformation). Rather than respond to the challenge with a token answer to ‘something must be done’, an all-out digital battle must be planned, waged and won, he argues.

  • Evolving with the times

    French ICT consultancy Devoteam claims to be at the vanguard of the digital revolution. The company was established in 1995 by two brothers, joint CEOs Stanislas and Godefroy de Bentzmann, in response to the deregulation of the telecoms industry in France, aware that the increased complexity of IT systems would mean telcos would need IT consulting services. “People who shared our passion for technology, our vision for its impact on business, and our energy to bring about change joined us,” said Nutley. “Thus, The Devoteam was created.”

    Nutley’s whole working life has been spent in IT and telecoms, beginning as an operator in the civil service, moving to COBOL programming, then systems analysis and design, overseeing mapping systems with the Ordnance Survey, followed by responsibility for the design of comms applications at Southern Electricity during privatisation. “I progressed to Chief Designer within Government at Logica and then project management within its Government sector projects,” he explained.

    From there he moved to Vodafone to develop billing systems, then into Operation Support Systems with Swedish consultancy AuSystems where he created the telecoms division in the UK. AuSystems was acquired in 2006 by Devoteam. “With my telecoms experience I was asked to run Devoteam’s telecoms division in the UK,” noted Nutley. “Three years ago I was asked to head up the company’s offer for telecoms.”

    Since being appointed Global Offer Director Nutley has brought together the different practices across the group, unified skill sets to serve its markets better, and built a collaborative environment to share those skills within the group. Devoteam has also broadened its service portfolio, adopted new technologies and gained experience with new industries. “We take our average of 15 per cent growth per year, and expansion into 20 markets across Europe, as proof that we understand our clients’ pains and are able to support them with good business judgement,” added Nutley.

    Devoteam has 3,600 staff, 443 million euro turnover (2014), and caters for over 800 clients across EMEA in all market sectors. Its portfolio of services include IT Service Excellence, Digital Enabler, Cloud Transformation, IT Transformation, Network Transformation (NT, its telecoms division) and Risk & Security. With Nutley responsible for NT (as well as being the UK Country Manager), the focus is on helping traditional network operators as well as large enterprises with their evolving technology to embrace cloud and unify communications. The NT practice across the Devoteam group accounts for 50 million euros of the 443 million euros total. By the end of 2018, that stream will grow to 65 million euros.

  • Replicating excellence

    “We will replicate in the UK the expertise we have gathered in our Centres of Excellence in EMEA,” said Nutley. “Not only will we continue to develop 5G technology and beyond, we will help telecom operators to enable the cloud and bring expertise to the enterprise market through a consolidated set of services which Germany is piloting. Devoteam will be helping Tier 1 operators with 5G, and by the end of 2018 we will be at the centre of the roll out of 5G in EMEA.”

    Devoteam’s telecoms division has developed a network evolution programme for a leading Tier 1 telecoms operator through three principal activities – the logical build of networks, interconnectivity with other operators, and migration services to new networks. The NT division has a strong presence in the UK, France, Germany, Benelux and the Middle East. In the UK NT has grown from six consultants in 2007 to nearly 100, and its principal activity is the consolidation of legacy 2G and 3G installations, the roll-out of 4G programmes as well as strategic consulting on the development and roll-out of 5G and cloud for operators and equipment vendors.

    Devoteam has been fiercely independent for 20 years and as a vendor agnostic alternative to the large consulting groups – with regard to both technology (software, SaaS applications) and sourcing (outsourcing, offshoring and public cloud) – the company is able to offer the right solution for each client, especially when the best option is disruption. “We chose not to catch the ERP wave,” said Nutley. “Our strong independence extends to our management style, where each consultant is empowered to take the initiative and encouraged to go one step further in each of their projects.”

    According to Nutley, Devoteam’s consultants see IT transformation as a digital battle. “We talk about making IT the business hero through its role of enabling people to embrace the digital revolution,” he said. “The IT business heroes today are the ones who work on transforming organisations with innovative IT solutions while escaping from traditional siloed models. We believe that cloud is one of the main enablers, with its infrastructure, platform and application dimensions at the heart of this revolution, bringing agility, scalability and flexibility to businesses.”

  • Strong culture

    Being in services Devoteam is about people, and over the years a strong culture has developed, a culture where people speak frankly, have great respect and are united by a genuine interest in technology, a desire to share their knowledge with others and a sense of purpose when they witness society-changing projects come to life. Nutley added: “Vibrant communities have developed around key topics where information and experience is exchanged, creating dynamic expert groups to ensure that we can always provide clients with teams that are up to speed on the latest developments and best practice. Today we continue to seek out, evaluate and invest in innovation to offer our clients the best technology for their business.”

    Devoteam uses the latest tools like Google for Work to build its capacity to work globally, but with local depth of understanding. The company is currently taking on 500 new professionals a year and will continue to encourage technical specialisation and adoption of its shared company values of respect, frankness and passion, all of which contributed towards an internal group-wide transformation programme (kicked off in 2012) over 18 months to reposition the firm in terms of its main markets.

    “The next step was to change our visual identity to reflect our new position as a strategic ICT consultancy in the digital age,” added Nutley. “This coincides with our 20 years in business. Since early 2014, we have concentrated on providing innovation and value around cloud and digital technologies. In this new phase we have spearheaded a number of projects to help organisations benefit from our expertise in digital collaboration, user experience, DevOps and service management. Today, the company is going even further. As a leader in digital transformation we want to ensure our new visual identity, a clear, colourful and digital-focused brand, is recognisable across our international operation.”

    The rebrand also recognises that customers buy differently and that Devoteam is positioned to service this need. “People work the way they live, and the way service is delivered has changed with ‘everything as a device’ playing a key role,” said Nutley. “Change needs to be delivered as cost-effectively as possible, and this means we need to embrace the Internet of Things to help companies build more collaborative environments that will promote future innovation.

    “For some time there has been a trend across EMEA towards buying a complete solution rather than the means to build that solution. The challenge is to create the right mechanisms for service delivery as well as the KPIs to measure its success. The trend throughout IT is to embrace cloud, and Devoteam has strategic partnerships with ServiceNow and Google, for example, to help companies move in this direction.

    “The role of the SI is to understand what businesses are trying to achieve, and then advise them on the ‘art of the possible’ by removing the challenges posed by technology so that businesses can improve their ROI. Devoteam decided three years ago that this is only achievable through finely honed expertise serving specific areas of business and with a sharper focus on tailored solutions.”

    This article appeared in Comms Dealer, November 2015.  Roger O'Kelly, Devoteam UK