Vodafone is bringing together its consumer marketing and digital division in new offices in Southwark, London, in a bid to increase the rate of innovation and get the product and marketing teams working closer together.
The move means Vodafone staff relocating from their current office in Newbury in Cambridge to a new building in the south of the capital. Speaking to Marketing Week, Vodafone’s consumer director Max Taylor says the hope is Vodafone will be able to tap into the digital talent in London, with plans for a major recruitment drive.
“This will be a really exciting new office, it will be digitally-centric. We are co-locating engineers, marketeers, commercial product managers to innovate at a faster and in a more agile way than ever before,” he explains.
“All marketing, digital, brand, communications, advertising, product teams, even website engineers will be here. The whole consumer business.”
Vodafone sees innovation as key to the strength and success of its brand. Its strapline, ‘The future is exciting. Ready?’ already hints at this, and Taylor cites the examples of its Tobi chatbot and tools such as holographic calling as area where Vodafone has taken a lead.
“It is important Vodafone is innovating. It is in our heritage, we want to be first with new technologies and demonstrating those experiences to customers,” he says.
The next major area will be 5G. Vodafone is turning on its 5G network on 3 July in seven cities, including London, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow with plans for 12 more towns and cities by the end of the year. Customers will also be able to roam on 5G in Italy, Spain and Germany from this summer.
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It has now revealed plans for the first devices and mobile plans that will be available on 5G, which include the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 and Samsung Galaxy S10. Vodafone has also partnered with game streaming service Hatch to offer customers three free months of access to more than 100 mobile games.
Vodafone is not the only mobile operator in the market touting its 5G network launch. EE has revealed plans for its service, as well as the phones and price plans that will be available. Taylor claims the focus on 5G from the industry is “good for the UK” as a whole, particularly as it is one of the first markets to launch the network compared to 4G, where it was the 53rd.
Vodafone hopes a focus on “differentiated plans and the customer experience” will help it differentiate in the market. Customers will not be charged a premium for 5G, which Taylor says will make it “as easy as possible” for customers to choose 5G. And he believes its Red entertainment plans – which offer access to one of either Spotify, Sky Sports, Amazon Prime, Now TV – will work “even better” on 5G because it should allow for faster downloads and lower latency.
Taylor says there will also be benefits for businesses and the ad industry. He points to the potential around virtual and augmented reality and better product search on mobile, as well as improved ad personalisation.