LIVE FROM OPERATIONS TRANSFORMATION FORUM 2017, HONG KONG: Deutsche Telekom executive Sven Hischke believes the digital transformation journey for European operators does not necessarily involve travelling on a straight road.

Hischke, MD of the operator’s Pan-Net programme, said the fact the region’s largest operators span several countries means they face a different path to digitalisation, and must exercise a degree of patience in executing the transformation.

The market landscape has also changed. The executive noted that a decade ago, all operators had to worry about was competition from other operators, whereas today over-the-top (OTT) companies are also a factor to be considered.

For those reasons, Deutsche Telekom adopted a phased approach to its digital transformation, incorporating Pan-Net into its IP network, and forming a cloud architecture enabling its businesses in individual markets to select the components they need to offer tailored services.

Hischke compared the approach to the modular strategy adopted by the automotive industry, whereby instead of building a specific model for each market – 13 in Deutsche Telekom’s case – “you build components of that and then the local subsidiaries can combine it” to create localised services.

The executive noted the modular approach extends to Deutsche Telekom’s virtualisation strategy. He said the operator wanted to avoid deploying hardware 13 times, and so employed standardised hardware and focused heavily on cross border integration to ensure technologies need only be deployed once.

Hischke said the variety of elements to be considered means it is clear the operator could not implement its digitalisation strategy in a single step.

“We have different technologies there from the past,” and even sometimes different ownership structures at Deutsche Telekom’s various European businesses – elements Hischke referred to as “hurdles” which must be overcome.

“Therefore you can’t always go straight to your target, you have to go some curves and try things out that everybody’s convinced at the end can go to our target and to build only once, one cloud for Europe.”

While the operator continues to add new services to its cloud portfolio, Hischke said it is already reaping the benefit in terms of reducing the time taken to bring new services to market.

“We are now faster to change things because we work now in the market, we work and are able to run that in a way like the OTTs and bring features more often to the customers.”