LIVE FROM DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION WORLD, COPENHAGEN: TM Forum CEO Nik Willetts claimed the telecoms industry has now reached a crisis point whereby service providers risk getting left behind in the very revolution they have created, as he issued a call to arms urging change across business models to find a new path to growth.

Described by the TM Forum as a “code red” situation, Willetts argued telcos have been navigating disruption for more than a decade, revealing an alarming statistic estimating the industry has spent more than $1 trillion in the last five years for less than a 1 per cent return.

“Today, connectivity providers are all too often weighed down by decades of legacy technology, products, processes and ways of working that we now need to simplify and upgrade to fit for this era,” he said.

At the same time of facing challenges, Willetts said it was getting simpler to enter the market, with barriers to competition evaporating, leading to most markets in the world “losing faith in us”.

Despite the current doom and gloom, Willetts does believe there is a bright future if the industry works together, pointing to the fact that the value of the core product created in reliable connectivity is “only growing every year”, while also pointing to the potential of security, cloud and IoT to offset declines in traditional business offerings.

“These opportunities, I believe, are just the tip of the iceberg for us. But to seize them, we have to change much more radically than we have in the last decade. Or we are going to miss out. This is not about whether it’s fair or not, it’s not about recognising there’s no silver bullet and it requires all of us to make a leap to succeed.”

Willetts believes there is a three-year window to get “fit for growth”, through simplifying, modernising and automating.

He also said there was a need to interact with new players with new skills, such as hyperscalers, software vendors, innovators and start-ups. “They’re allies in this journey, not competitors,” he added.