For the past few years, Vodafone has been treating its UK workforce like a bad haircut that demands repeat trips to the barber. In its 2018 fiscal year, average headcount fell by 859 jobs to 12,379. Another 854 went in the most recent one, giving it 11,525 employees at the last reckoning. That means about 13% of jobs have been cut in just two years.
A common assumption was that most job losses had been on the customer services side of the business, where the introduction of artificially intelligent “chatbots” has been widely reported.
Vodafone UK has been in the vanguard of this movement, launching a chatbot called TOBi that relies heavily on Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence platform, and can now deal with most customer queries.
But it turns out that staff in network roles have felt most of the pain.