2degrees of closeness (not separation)

What does it take to grow a commercial business from 250,000 customers to a cool one million in just three years? It seems the secret is innovation, according to 2degrees, a company whose own rapid growth has made headline news just this month.

Launching a new product in a competitive market requires a creative mind, or as some may say, innovation. Not only do you need to be savvy enough to identify a gap in the market, you then need to create the product that will meet your potential customers' currently unsatisfied needs, and develop the creative strategy that will ensure your product has longevity and delivers a competitive edge.

For a mobile network company, that means delivering a service that operates throughout as much of New Zealand as possible (as well as overseas), and offers more product innovation delivering better value to customers.

When 2degrees burst onto the scene in 2009, it began offering mobile services to the prepay market. After just six months 206,000 customers had signed up, and by March 2011 this had grown to over 580,000.  2degrees has now grown at such a rate that as well as offering service to 2G and 3G prepaid and post-paid customers, it has also successfully launched into the business segment, and as such, is now recognised as one of the fastest growing businesses in the Asia Pacific Region. Since entering the market, it is estimated to have generated savings of $2.24 billion for New Zealand consumers and businesses, with a recent survey of 2degrees business customers revealing that many of them are already seeing savings of up to 25 percent on their mobile costs.

With 2degrees reaching its one millionth customer this month, the question is: just how has innovation helped 2degees poach a third of Telecom and Vodafone’s customers, and continue to grow its customer base at such a rapid rate?

Quite simply, 2degrees continue to deliver what it promises: products and solutions that allow customers to spend less and get more. In three years, 2degrees has expanded to network coverage in 97 percent of ‘the places that kiwis live and work’, over 700 employees from 40 different nationalities and succeeded in offering customers unique services not previously available in the mobile market. For businesses, these include smart business plans (enabling customers to better control their costs at home and overseas); closed user groups across all business plans; long-life mobile data bundles; and shared data with other devices (such as iPads). Customers are allowed to ‘carry over’ their minutes each month and pay on public transport using Touch2Pay on their phones.

Its ability to compete on value, service and innovation is evident in its appointment as a preferred supplier for New Zealand government agencies (including schools and local authorities).

So where to from here?

Throughout its short history, 2degrees has maintained growth through continuous research and design of new products and services in demand by mobile customers. To do this, great value has been placed on teams working together, including customer care, sales, marketing, IT and networks - regularly meeting to share feedback, and discuss emerging (global) trends.

By continuing to expand its wireless network and invest in next generation network technologies, applications, customer service and support platforms, 2degrees is making it easier for people to communicate and do business. Now surely that’s what you call innovative business support.

2degrees is a finalist in the 2012 AUT Excellence in Business Support Awards (run by AUT Business School, and of which Idealog is a sponsor) in the large business $50-200m turnover category. Winners will be announced at a gala dinner at The Langham Hotel on November 7. For a full list of finalists, see

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