Philipp Humm is out at T-Mobile, and we don’t know why. Maybe he really was planning to leave all along, as he claimed in an internal memo. Maybe he’s being forced out by parent company Deutsche Telekom for the failure of the AT&T-Mo merger. Or maybe he was brought on board in 2010 for the sole reason of selling the U.S. subsidiary, and now that a sale is longer feasible, he’s moving on to the next project.
Whatever the reason, the move is sudden, and T-Mobile finds itself looking for a new chief executive. We have some unsolicited advice for whoever that replacement will be as well as acting CEO Jim Ailing: Don’t mess with Humm’s work.
T-Mobile may be suffering at the hands of its much larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T, but the last thing T-Mobile needs right now is the strategy ‘shake up’ a new CEO invariably brings. After the failed merger with AT&T, Humm and his team put together a solid plan to become a competitive force in the market. Here are the reasons why we think T-Mo is on the right track:
Wireless industry analyst Chetan Sharma believes T-Mobile is still weak when it comes to selling to businesses and vertical industries like healthcare. Sharma also thinks it needs to come up with more services like its Bobsled VoIP calling service in order to fend off the growing threat of over-the-top service providers. But for the most part, T-Mobile is on the right track, Sharma told me in an email:
T-Mobile has done a pretty good job on the network front under the leadership of Neville Ray. They upgraded their backhaul to Fiber and moved rapidly on HSPA+. Even the LTE deal was put together in record time. Normally, these things can take many quarters. Their marketing is always edgy. They put the top 3 operators on the back foot with their 4G marketing (rightly or wrongly). They are clearly positioned well to be a good value competitor. At this point, addition of iPhone is not going to tilt the scales too favorably. It is useful to prevent churn but expect no significant defections.
Of course, as Sharma implies, this wasn’t all Humm’s doing. Humm ran the company, but the groundwork for many of these initiatives was laid before he arrived in May of 2010. As David Beren of TMoNews suggested on twitter, T-Mobile may have accomplished what it has despite Humm’s presence:
I believe he was brought in to prep the company for sale, which left the company distracted from strategies that should have launched a long time ago … [While] the “challenger strategy” is great, [it] should have happened 18 months ago
Regardless of whether T-Mobile’s current aggressive strategy is Humm’s legacy or the work of his team, we think it’s a good plan. T-Mobile’s next CEO should give it a chance to work.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Shawn Hempel
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