"IT is a complex science. People think it's like plasticine and it's possible to have different functions, but everything has to be done with a certain architecture and future-proof vision," EE CTO Fotis Karonis explained as he described his strategy behind the merger of Orange and T-Mobile.
Karonis, who also boasts being CIO when Athens International Airport was set up from scratch - overseeing its launch in 2001 as well as the 2004 Olympics - was at the EE technology helm in 2010 when the two operators came together in a joint-venture that would encompass technology, brands and eventually a single network.
"One of the important roles in the merger was to seek efficiencies while the business was moving, competing and maintaining a fantastic customer base of 27 million or so," he said.
"On the one hand we had to compete in the market with our brands and really bring fascinating propositions to the market, but we also needed to be more efficient and foster one network and one IT strategy while serving multiple brands.
"I immediately started to be quite radical, thinking where we needed to get to with one architecture behind it all, and I wanted very up front efficiencies. The key importance was transformation, and I had to transform very quickly to get the one stack of IT and moving to get one integrated network."
Challenges and opportunities
The former CIO of Greek-owned Romanian network Romtelecom told CIO that the challenging nature of the new role and its responsibilities was not daunting, and in fact appealed to him.
"The bigger the equation and harder the equation the more fun it is," Karonis said. "I like to see things as opportunities rather than difficulties so with the merger I liked the difficult things that give people the drive to achieve great stuff, and the challenge of making your dream and vision very tangible and understandable by your colleagues.
"Making people very excited and fascinated by what they're going to achieve and see that problems are really opportunities. That was the philosophy that I put forward.
"The network was hard in the beginning because of complex contractual relationships, but with the IT part I said that we just have to remove barriers all the time.
"We were able to take the best stack from one company, then a different stack from the other company. Being able to see which was the best architectural model, then looking at the business aspect and its uses.
"I presented my strategy really quickly, saying that we will absolutely guarantee that we have our architecture and security in house because that's really supporting the core business of a telecoms company.
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