For operators, no 'one size fits all' on path towards digitisation

A panel of leading telecoms executives agreed that communications service providers will all be digital one day, but the routes they take and the types of service providers they become may not necessarily be the same.

Speaking on a panel session at TM Forum Live in Nice, France this week, Phil Jordan group CIO of Telefónica, said it is possible to define three basic attributes that make up a digital player: real time, so they can work fast enough; automation; and data driven -- using data to drive insight and context.

Scott Alcott, CIO of Comcast, added that customer advocacy or trust is also an important element: "Ideally, the customer knows that the digital provider has their back," he said.

However, NetCracker CEO Andrew Feinberg also warned that there is "no such thing as one size fits all", noting that there is a big difference between a B2C and B2B service provider.

He pointed out that a typical teenager will know the B2C brands such as Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Apple.

"Have we lost that as the truly digital service provider?" he asked. "Not yet -- but we have to understand what our end goal is."

Comcast's Alcott said his company certainly intends to be a household brand, "but it resonates what Andrew [Feinberg] says," he conceded.

"We also intend to compete on the content side. We think it is really important to build that ecosystem," he added.

But Alcott stressed that networks still matter: "I know that is not cool. Kids may not want to know. But it still matters."

Tony Geheran, EVP and president of Telus Broadband Networks, concurred, pointing out that the company is investing heavily in FTTP because the customer experience has to be fast, consistent and immediate.

Essentially, service providers have to invest in networks, core processes and systems -- and they have to understand that IT is a strategic investment, said Telefónica's Jordan.

"We have half the number of systems we had three years ago," he pointed out.

Alcott also called for more service-enabling platforms that are preconfigured, thereby avoiding the requirement for a new installation every time.

"I'd like to see ID as a service; activation as a service; self install as a service," he said.

Jordan agreed that standardisation and simplification are key requirements: "We are massively overly complex," he said.

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