The Transformation of Telecom's "Ugly Duckling"

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Ian Campbell


Telecommunications, Directory, Directory Publishing


Telecom's directory publishing business produced the White and Yellow Pages directories from 1975 to 1991. Prior to 1980, directory publishing was regarded within Telecom as a side show to the mainstream business – telecommunications. In 1976 the directory publishing business was in a crisis; it ranked in the top three of Telecom's public relations problems, was operating at a loss which would rapidly increase, and was becoming untenable. Over the next 15 years the publishing business was transformed to become the most profitable and innovative business in Telecom. This is the story of that transformation, which also illustrates the difficulty in innovating in a public service business at that time. A remarkable improvement in performance in the first five years failed to establish credibility within Telecom. What might have taken less than ten years to achieve in the private sector took more than 20 years in Telecom and Telstra.


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