Google taking up Telstra’s network: Thodey

Search and Cloud services giant Google is responsible for nearly half of all Telstra’s traffic and mobile is data is doubling every year, according to Telstra chief executive David Thodey.

At a reunion of past IBM Australia managing directors in Sydney yesterday, Thodey was asked what he saw the future of the workplace being like and whether more people will work from home, many as individual contractors of services.

“Firstly, all this data we are talking about, it needs to move and, of course, guess who moves it,” Thodey said.

“About 40 per cent of all the traffic we carry today – because I come from a connectivity perspective – is because of Google.”

With Google services hogging the data pipes, Thodey said the growth in mobile data is also exponential.

“There are very interesting statistics in the wireless network [where] the amount of data we carried last year is twice as much as we did the year before,” he said.

“It’s also the type of data and it comes back to how we are working. We have an iPhone and an iPad connected so the definition of work is going to completely change.”

Thodey was managing director of IBM Australia during the time of the Sydney Olympics before joining Telstra’s mobile division and then succeeding to the top job.

“We talk about connectivity and there are some five billion people connected in some way. Within 10 years our projection is it will be 80 billion people, or things, will be connected. So a camera will be connected. And in another 10 years it will be a trillion devices connected,” he said.

“That’s the world of connectivity. Put that together with data you create a completely different working environment. I think it is very hard to define what work is and we see this integration of work and so-called ‘pleasure’, or ‘life’.”

Thodey said he couldn’t “put a number” on people working from home in the future because he looks at the way people are working today and it is already “fully integrated”.

“But these challenges create structural changes we need to address as a nation,” he said. “I think NBN is going that way, but look at the power of wireless technology. The one thing about wireless technology is it is so innately natural that you just want to be connected where and when you want to be.”

“I think that is going to have an incredible impact and I think the types of devices that are going to come out in the next five years – I’ve already seen a piece of paper that you can crumble and it is addressable. That would revolutionise the way we get information. And then there is the growth of video, it is a far more effective way of communicating.”

Thodey doesn’t believe the mobile phone will disappear because we “still love talking”, but it will change in shape and how it is interacted with.

“You can talk to your phone whether it’s Android or the iPhone,” he said. “I think the iPad and user interface has been quite revolutionary. Just think about how that will change.”

Life after IBM

Thodey had a long career at IBM before becoming managing director and the one thing that stayed with him from his time there was the culture and values of the company.

Slideshow: Celebrating 100 years of IBM.

“It somehow became a part of who was and what I believed in and what I thought a good company really stood for,” he said.

“Even though I think the beliefs have changed slightly in recent years there is respect for the individual and a commitment to customer service which is very relevant to a company like Telstra.”

Thodey says these things stayed with him irrespective of the economic or technology changes the company went through.

“If you stay true to those fundamental beliefs you can just about take on any challenge,” he said. “The other thing is the quality of the people you get a chance to work with does rub off on you and you learn many things.”

[For an exclusive interview with Thodey, see this Computerworld report.]

According to Thodey, in a company like Telstra which going through “enormous changes – some externally impacted on us, some technology related – you’ve got to know what makes you special and different”.

“Hopefully it helped me a little bit for the challenges at Telstra, but it didn’t prepare me for the government challenges, I can say that,” Thodey said jovially.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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