The birth of Telstra Health
Date: 09/03/2015

The birth of Telstra Health


Something very unusual happened on a recent flight from Canberra, I sat next to a person who worked for an IT organisation that had just been swallowed up by Telstra (not the unusual part) and they were over the moon with the move. Having been through a few of these myself (you can’t be in IT without going through acquisitions) and most/all being an unmitigated disaster, I was intrigued with the why and how.

As we chatted further, I uncovered a few fascinating things. Here was a large Telco facing massive internal and external challenges, along with the erosion of its traditional revenue base through major technology disruption from the likes of Skype, Apple, Viber & NBN. What I wasn’t fully aware of, was that Telstra weren’t idly sitting back on recent windfalls from the NBN etc, but rather they were in the process of re-inventing themselves.

Here is an organisation that probably (finger in the air) has active information/data on at least 60-70% of the Australian populace (this is where it starts to get interesting), imagine the potential of doing something smart with that information.

And here is where the re-invention comes in, Telstra has slowly been buying up a whole bunch of Health tech companies and creating a new division, unsurprisingly called Telstra Health. The vision they see is the ability to revolutionise (disrupt) the Health industry by integrating all various data pools that exist and thus provide more informed and efficient care and treatment (and presumably revenue to Telstra).

This industry is estimated to grow to $200 billion by the year 2020, so Telstra is certainly banking on a large growth area. They also no doubt realise that by overlaying their current data they will have a large client base to run their campaigns/analytics over.

But, and here is the big but, this isn’t going to be an easy path for Telstra to wander down, it is going to be full of regulatory, security and not least major technical constraints before that vision will be a success. Hats off to them for giving it a nudge though, and this along with their entrance into the Venture Capitalist market investing in new start-ups, they aren’t waiting around to see who moved their cheese.

Back to my new found friend on the plane, I could quickly understand why they were so excited, it had seemed Telstra were ticking all the right boxes when it came to acquisitions, not making major structural changes to the company, giving them plenty of dollars to invest in R&D and matching them up with acquired companies that provided complimentary services. I can see why David Thodey has been so important to Telstra.