ntl has been very busy. It agreed a merger with Telewest in March to create the UK’s largest residential broadband communications company.Then a month later, it reached a takeover agreement with Virgin Mobile for £962.4 million, creating the first UK provider of a four-way offering: cable TV, internet, fixed and mobile phones services. It has also agreed an exclusive 30-year licence for the Virgin brand, which it believes will help attract and retain customers in this notoriously fickle market.

“We need to use IT to support our internal customers in the business as they deliver the merged company to the market”
– Howard Watson, CIO, ntl Group

Although merging the operations of all three companies ready to cross-sell their services next year will be difficult, the process is already underway. Howard Watson, CTO and CIO at the company, is well placed to consolidate the systems and platforms, having already built one organisation at Telewest from 35 companies. Watson believes the merger will create some challenges for the IT department. “We need to use IT to support our internal customers in the business as they deliver the merged company to the market.”

At Telewest, where Watson was managing director of networks and IT, he focused on delivering capability to the business through a programme of consolidation of Telewest’s business support systems (BSS) and providing a single customer care system, and this will continue at the merged organisation. “We will now have to balance the needs of the merged business with continuing to provide the single customer system for an additional three million customers,” he says. “We will begin to implement the project this year and aim to complete it by the third quarter of 2007. We will also implement a single Oracle ERP system covering finance, HR and procurement.”

The BSS are the organisation’s interface with the customer, handling all activities based on customer care and billing.

“Having a single system will reduce our costs and training needs, and we are aiming for our customer support representatives to be able to spend 80 per cent of their time thinking about the customer and only 20 per cent on the systems they need to ‘drive’.”

Howard thinks there will be great opportunities in the future. “The company’s strategy is to grow from our existing cost base, and IT is critical in this,” he says.