Visitors to this year’s annual TM Forum event began to wend their weary way home following three days of intensive discussions and meetings, and perhaps even a little deal making on the side.
Many topics were up for debate this week, but as usual the theme of operator digital transformation permeated throughout the conference agenda. Indeed, while last year’s event tried to instil a bit of urgency among operators, digital transformation remains an overwhelming task for many, with significant hurdles yet to be overcome.
TM Forum has already nailed its flag firmly to the digital transformation mast, but in case anyone was still in any doubt, it changed the name of its annual Nice event from TM Forum Live to Digital Transformation World, just to make sure.
Nik Willetts, the TM Forum’s president and CEO (pictured, right), also made it crystal clear what role the industry association wants to play when he outlined its vision for an open digital world, backed by open APIs and digital networks. He proclaimed his intention to make TM Forum the place where operators can collaborate to achieve this goal, bringing new growth in the process.
For sure, no one ever thought that transforming a communications service provider (CSP) into a digital services provider (DSP) would be easy, but did anyone think it would really be this hard? In the words of McKinsey (which were oft quoted at the event): “the painful reality is that most transformations fail. Research shows that 70 per cent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals.”
The very word “transformation” is a difficult concept for some, as it could suggest there is a start and end point to the process. However, as pointed out by Telus CTO Ibrahim Gedeon, it would be dangerous for any CSP to think it was done with transforming itself: “I am transforming something all the time,” he said. “It never ends.”
Meanwhile, the TM Forum’s bi-annual Digital Transformation Tracker identified cultural and organisational issues as some of the biggest barriers to transformation. These was also highlighted by keynote speakers including Shankar Arumugavelu, CIO of Verizon, who spoke of the need to “unlearn” the way things were done in the past.
Willetts acknowledged many operators are frustrated the process is taking so long. But he, and others within the industry, continue to urge them to set out a clear vision for their digital transformation aspirations, and ensure they have the right balance of talent and skills to achieve those goals.
– Anne Morris, contributing reporter, Mobile World Live
The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.