The drive to be Switzerland’s top telecommunications company and ‘national champion’ is within touching distance for Sunrise UPC — who count tennis legend Roger Federer as one of their brand ambassadors — and are the new partner of the Swiss-Ski team as they prepare for the Olympics.
Seeded two is no longer an option for Sunrise UPC. The company is one step closer to becoming the leader for communications and entertainment in the country following the epic merger in 2020 when 5G technology from Sunrise converged with the best gigabit broadband network in the form of UPC.
“Together more Wow” is what the customers of Sunrise UPC are now promised by Fabio Pellegrino, Senior Director, Platform Delivery, who describes himself as “not your traditional IT guy” as he comes from a background in customer care, which gives him first-hand knowledge of providing a first-class customer experience.
“I am able to bring emotional intelligence to my role in IT and like to use technology as an enabler for our customers to have the best experience. IT is all about the customer experience nowadays,” said Pellegrino from his office in Zurich.
Pellegrino is excited by the potential power of the two companies coming together, which he says will offer “intelligent connectivity of the future”. In one of the largest mergers of two companies in recent Swiss history, Sunrise and UPC are now perfectly placed to meet the changing habits of their customers, who have adopted hybrid working due to the pandemic, and offer even more business power to the self-employed, SMEs and large-scale companies.
“The combination of Sunrise and UPC will give our customers a greater ‘Wow’ experience,” said Pellegrino. “We bring together the passion and technology of two companies and are now competing for the number one slot in Switzerland. We will grow together and offer a good price tag and technology to be the national champion.
“Together, more speed and entertainment. Sunrise and UPC complement one another perfectly as customers benefit from the fastest 5G network from Sunrise and the reliable UPC Giganet,” he said.
Liberty Global acquired Sunrise in November 2020 for a reported US$7.4bn in order to create a stronger challenge to incumbent Swisscom.
The company focuses on innovation, untethered connectivity, personalised entertainment, and digitisation. It offers a wide range of broadband, TV, mobile, and telephony services to its two million customers. This includes an extensive range of TV channels, seven days of replay, and thousands of films and series available on-demand plus the MySports (www.mysports.ch) channel and online platform esports.ch which offer the best sports entertainment.
Sunrise UPC is continuing to expand the next-generation network structure, including 5G and future technologies, to be able to supply up to 90% of Swiss households with gigabit internet during 2021. The speed will gradually be increased to 10 Gbit/s. With entertainment offers, the combined business is providing a winning combination.
Focus on platform delivery
“My role as CIO of platform delivery is to focus on the development and run of the main platforms like CRM, billing, service delivery, network inventory, middleware, provisioning in the field and in general, operations of the major applications in B2B and B2C,” commented Pellegrino.
“Even if today, the customer experience is supported through the webstack, it needs a reliable backend that can offer capability in real-time to support customers initiated processes. For this, there are reliable and fast systems needed that can provide the relevant information in the surrounding systems.”
Pellegrino outlined his role in platform delivery — which is the biggest department in CIO of Sunrise UPC — and how he focuses on the stacks of B2B and B2C. “During the merger, my role was to safeguard the UPC IT department overall as we had to achieve the set end-of-year targets. A merger brings immediately the wish to align, and to discuss the future, but the duty of achieving the revenue remains.
“The market is highly competitive and we have seen that the concurrence was launching attractive promotions — assuming we would be fully occupied with the setup of the merger. With me ‘left behind’ we were able to give a clear response and achieved the target, next to the big effort of my colleagues to set up the merger.
“At the beginning of 2021, we took the time to think about the future and what functions we would need in this special situation and it was clear that we need, next to the classic departments, a strong architecture and partner management. To be able to give the focus on customer journeys, the capability of digital was set up as an own department — strongly collaborating with platform delivery.
“You probably think that this could be a problem, mainly if you think about the delivery cycle, as the digital departments are fully agile and platforms are going with bigger releases, and you are right. This difference in delivering, that we had to overcome, was changing the cycles and in giving slots, so that we can accommodate all the wishes coming up,” said Pellegrino.
He highlighted the challenges of the merger during the pandemic and how they used technology for colleagues to work from home. “The homework policy was introduced at the same time as the new organisation was being set up and we ended up working with leads only through technical channels and web conferences.
“Without having the opportunity to read the body language, or to even get to know each other, the main key was the clear communication and listening was crucial during this very challenging period for both our employees and customers,” he said. “Next to the difficulties of having a lot of new systems from one day to another, it was also key to understand the new culture along with the emotional intelligence.”
In the past, the main interaction between customers and Sunrise UPC was through phone or shops but the customer experience and expectation has changed. “Looking at the millennials, but also at the general expectation, the customer wants to be free and not attached to any opening hours or printout of documents,” commented Pellegrino.
“Today, the customer wants to have everything at his/her fingertips and be able to change subscriptions at any time. Through the real-time capabilities, we enable a customer to watch the main football match when they want by clicking in our app, and to find the charge on the next bill. Also, the consumption of content needs to be tailored to the expectation of the customers: Having a ‘second room-solution’ where you can continue to watch your movie in the exact same second as in the living room, is basic today.
“Our customers want to be device independent so that they can continue even on their mobile phones. This is where our 5G network comes into play. Having a strong infrastructure and tremendous speed will allow us to consume seamless amounts of content both during the pandemic and into the future where we expect new models of working, focusing on output and not time presence.
“This behaviour is also valid for business customers. From the SOHO to the large enterprises where they want to use the services in real time, make adaptations and also add on services in real time, like security options. The option of doing this through the cloud is not far away.
“Everything that I mentioned sounds great, but it also has another side of the medal. By providing those services, a lot of data is transferred from one system to the other. This requires an adequate data-privacy and security concept, especially when we are talking about personalised data. The Telco Act in Switzerland is very specific here and relevant for our business customers where security of data is the main promise — we offer all those solutions,” he said.
“Sunrise and UPC complement one another perfectly as customers benefit from the fastest 5G network from Sunrise and the reliable UPC Giganet.”
With Sunrise UPC’s mobile and hybrid cable network, customers can do all of these things without experiencing a loss of performance.
The network has the technological advantage that it can increase the internet capacities to several Gigabits per second if needed — without any construction work being necessary — paving the way for future digital trends.
“Sunrise UPC offers 360-degree communication solutions for the digital, mobile, and secure workplace. 5G and the internet of things (IoT) solutions increase the agility, innovative strength, and productivity of companies,” he said.
He said this was a very exciting period for the company and predicted they will use technology to go beyond their traditional services. “The main key here is to adapt the platforms to be able to perform the request. The means of any IT solution in this industry that is not selling any tangible products, that cannot put nice ribbons around its goods, cannot provide a touch and feel experience, will only make the difference when it’s reliable, fast and data consistent.
“Whatever we do, the targets consist of systems that are fast and reliable processing, ease of use, sustainable and flexible — even if we decide to sell tyres in the future, the systems should cope with that.”
Power of partnerships
Pellegrino outlined the importance of their partnership with the following:
“To achieve those targets, there is the need to use existing know-how through our partners. Our philosophy is to keep the knowledge in the company and leverage the effects of our partners who are the experts in what they do. This leaves us to focus on what we do best.”
“Accenture helped in various areas, focusing on the end-to-end approach on the deliveries. From architecture until the release management, all the functions have been supported by them, so also design, delivery, testing and release. As we decided to introduce Salesforce in the B2B landscape, they helped us to implement the full suite in only 15 months, which I mentioned also at dreamforce. Currently, they are driving the unification of the two salesforce instances.”
“CloudSense is a true partner in understanding the needs of their customers. By providing the CPQ in Salesforce, we went on a journey with them as they allowed us to contribute to their product roadmap and participate in their innovation.”
“With our innovative partner Twim, we replaced our B2B website, from an on-premise instance to a cloud-based solution where we used the latest and greatest innovative CMS systems. What started as a POC changed into the solution based on the advanced functionality and stability.”
Prodapt Solutions Ltd
“Prodapt is a true partner in all the delivery skills and testing, providing best-in-class knowledge, including shift left approaches and development skills. Through this, Prodapt established a great partnership with our motherhouse LGI and is providing a lot of innovative services, also in the mobile sector.”
“In the cable industry, the topology and inventory of your network and end customer devices are key. That’s why we collaborate with Netcracker as it gives us the insights of our network with ease of use, driving the upgrades of the platform so that we can use the latest and greatest in this area.”
“Over the years, we have been working with Infosys that is helping us in various areas like development of the web capabilities, like e-commerce and omnichannel approaches. Through their size they can give answers to any demand from our side, like architecture, development, operations and therefore became a strategic partner of us and LGI.”
Pellegrino concluded: “We want to rely on the experience and the capability of the partners by having the internals in the driving seat. This allows us to focus on the target by introducing the best- in-class application. I’m explicitly talking about partners and not vendors, because this is only possible once you involve them in what you want to achieve. All of our partners are part of the journey and solution. By bringing the best they have, we at Sunrise UPC, we can achieve the expectation of the market. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but use the wheel to build an astonishing sports car for the race.”
Finally, with Federer on their bench as the ultimate doubles partner, it won’t be long before it’s game, set and match to Sunrise UPC as they take their place as the ‘national champion’ in the Swiss telco market.
Wow! Ski sponsorship
Sunrise UPC will be joining the Swiss snowsports family as the new, main Swiss-Ski partner as of the 2022/23 season for the next 10 years.
The collaboration with Sunrise UPC in the next Olympic cycle and beyond marks a further milestone in Swiss-Ski history. The new, main partner offers the umbrella association of Swiss snowsports a comprehensive package and excellent planning certainty due to the long-term nature of the engagement.
Urs Lehmann, President of Swiss-Ski said: “Sunrise UPC will provide us with fresh impetus in various areas. We're looking forward to these new opportunities.”
André Krause, CEO of Sunrise UPC, added: “This partnership is enabling us to continue building on our success. Snowsports are part of the Swiss tradition and the combination with world-class performance sports fits perfectly with our positioning.
“Thanks to the partnership with Swiss-Ski, we can anchor our company even closer and more emotionally with our customers. Sport is an ideal medium for us to do this as it shows our values passionate, bold and one.
“We've been able to build on this image even more by expanding from our partnership with Roger Federer to now also include Swiss snowsports.”
Life outside the office
What is your ‘Wow moment’?
The moment I heard that Sunrise UPC is going to be sponsoring the Swiss Ski Team — this is fabulous.
Drink of choice
Favourite holiday destination?
Florida and Sardegna?
Most precious possession?
Life’s most valuable lesson?
Don’t crack under pressure – in the end you will win!