Vodafone NZ promised to tell its 2700 staff if they would stay or go by the end of March (that is, yesterday).

Late last week, the telco indicated it would hit that mark.

"We're still on track to give our people clarity by the end of the month, after which there will be a transition period - including new vacancies to be filled," spokesman Richard Llewellyn told the Herald last Thursday.

Chief executive Jason Paris says he'll give an update on how everything went with the restructure, and the lay of the land ahead, in a couple of weeks.


But it's already clear bodies will be shed. Paris has refused to comment on inhouse talk that hundreds of jobs will go, always maintaining the number would not be finalised until the end of the review - and that people would even be added in some areas.

The new Vodafone boss has said changes will be bold, and all but confirmed offshoring of some call centre jobs with his "I'm a proud Kiwi, but ..." talk about the need to address "commercial reality."

And insiders have let slip that some tech jobs will be sent out of New Zealand, too, following a round of offshoring last year. And while a voluntary redundancy offer went to most people in the company, a spokeswoman confirmed that take-up was "in the low-single digits" and that some compulsory redundancies would be required to fill the gap.

Another round of bad press lies ahead, as layoff numbers are confirmed at some point in the coming days.

Once he's through that, here are Paris's top five challenges:

1. Prove more automated and offshored support can be better

Paris has argued that people given Vodafone is a multinational, with various "centres of excellence" around the world, offshoring doesn't mean calls going to an anonymous call centre. And that many actually prefer an online form or app or bot for quickly resolving certain questions or requests. Customers will shortly let him know via social media, and voting with their feet.

2. Win a key price fight with Chorus

An update to the Telecommunications Act that kicks in next year forces Chorus to open up its network to let retail ISPs like Vodafone apply their own electronics, to give them more freedom over what services they offer, and at what retail pricing.

The law doesn't specify wholesale pricing, however, Cue a round of public arm-wrestling, PR games and various attempts to get the Commerce Commission to referee, or not.


Paris went on the front-foot last week as Chorus put its initial pricing proposal on the table.

He wasted no time in saying it would be punishing for consumers if the network company got its way - though Chorus complained bitterly that his claim it would push prices up by $40 a month was misleading. Watch out for a lot more bunfighting in the months ahead. How it turns out will have a big impact on Vodafone's future.

3. Shift the power balance in the Sky-Vodafone relationship

Intriguingly, Paris indicated in his first interview with the Herald that he didn't want Vodafone TV to simply re-sell Sky channels.

Historically, Sky TV has kept a tight leash on hardware partners, with restrictions on what non-Sky content they can carry. Paris would not want to talk contract details, but indicated he would be pushing for more freedom - including (and this would have made shudder) potentially adding the Spark Sport app to Vodafone TV.

Will he have the moxie to follow through?

If he does, and Spark Sport is put onto Vodafone TV (a user-friendly box that acts as a Sky TV substitute) it could be a golden opportunity to win the business of many middle New Zealanders stratching their heads about how to watch the 2019 Rugby World Cup with all this new-fangled streaming malarky.

4. More cool tech, sooner

Paris has said Vodafone NZ needs to do a better job at grabbing hot tech from its sister companies and introducing it to NZ. Enhancing Vodafone TV with more apps and online services would help prove that statement.

So would supporting E-SIMs, as Paris has already said he's keen on. E-SIMs, supported by some of the latest phones from the likes Apple and Huawei, can support more than one phone account, and from different phone companies. That makes them a boon for travellers, but phone companies are wary - because they also make it a lot easier to switch providers.

He'll need to pull more tricks out of his hat, too, as Spark tries to make all the conversation about 5G.

Areas like security, and growing concern about online content - where Vodafone has already been stepping upSo far, "only a low single-digit proportion of those eligible to express interest have taken up the offer," - could be further bolstered.

Paris seems to know the score here, and is active in responding to people on social media and in article comments when they point out drawbacks. Again, will he have the wherewithal to follow through?

5. Brace for that IPO

The "bold" restructure is all about Vodafone's plan to list its NZ business on the NZX (and or ASX) early next year.

That means increasing Vodafone NZ's bottom line, and Paris has been open about the fact it missed targets last year, and needs to make more profit to fund dividends for soon-to-be investors. How? Just follow items 1 to 4 on this list. You're welcome.