TM Forum Live was almost an exact replica of last year’s event, but there was one interesting difference. The mood was more serious.
There were the usual number of booths, the usual number of cocktail receptions and the usual number of conference sessions (too many). It was just that the mood was more serious.
The reason is – perhaps – that there has been a huge change in the communications industry in the last year. We are discussing the same things, talking the same level of, er, hot air as usual, but we are also doing. Operators know that they must now act and act radically to win in the digital world.
They are implementing systems that give them real-time responsiveness. They are ‘lightening’ processes to simplify the support structures and allow the improving communications between different parts of the business to flower. And they are still cutting costs wherever they can.
The changes are radical and require radical thinking and enormous amounts of will power. Collaborating with a range of partners is not intrinsic to a telecoms company’s culture but is vital if they wish to stay in the game.
What was interesting in the Revenue Management session was that there were three case studies of (and from) operators who are already collaborating with OTT players – and one extremely interesting example of a business model that needs it own article to explore.
What was also interesting, but sobering, was that there is still a huge resistance to change in some telecoms companies. Henk Ensing of TNO had surveyed 20 CIOs to discover what the top 10 reasons for not doing things was and, perhaps not surprisingly, the top 3 were ‘too expensive,’ ‘too complex’ and ‘too much disturbance.’
These Henk equated to there being no obvious business case, no clear place to start and fear that starting will have a negative impact on the rest of the architecture. Henk recommended starting parallel to avoid that impact and making use of ‘proof of concepts’ as a way forward.
It is also a perfect application of cloud techniques and technologies. Low cost and instant availability mean that CIOs can try things quickly, cost effectively and can take Finance on the journey, so that the business case can be developed as the project progresses.
This resistance will remain, but telecoms companies are getting better at IT transformations. No longer is it the case that a large transformation is completed and “everyone breathes a sigh of relief.” Now migrations happen with the next one in sight. And this evolutionary approach will mean that each successive transformation will be easier and easier.