Wrong approach leads to transformation fatigue

At the recent Telco IT Conference held in Hong Kong, I had the pleasure of speaking to the chairman, Zoran Vasilijev, managing director of Value Partners based in Dubai, on his thoughts regarding the changing face of IT in telcos and 'transformation fatigue'.
Tony Poulos: What has been the predominant theme at the Telco IT event?
Zoran Vasilijev: Transforming from resource-only IT setups from years ago to something that is now more relevant, that is, result-oriented IT organizations.
TP: We hear that IT used to lead the business but that now the business is leading IT. Where do you think that's heading?
ZV: It's a great debate, but the sooner they are aligned and there is no more debate and it's actually one unified view of the customer I think we will no longer need to discuss who is leading any more. The idea is that rather than looking at IT as something in a support function, it now needs to be a function that inputs very regularly into the business and into the overall strategy of the operators in order to satisfy the growth and the sustainability of the business and at the same time deliver something that is required by the end users and enterprises that the telcos are serving. In my view, the decoupling of IT and business, one versus another and so forth is long gone, it has to be gone!
TP: I've just heard a new term, 'transformation fatigue,' where operators undertaking long-term transformation projects are not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and seeing waning interest and productivity levels. How do you see operators overcoming issues like that?
ZV: It's an interesting point because the industry we are in, the telco industry, is an evolving industry, and transformation cannot simply be a project. It is an evolving process affecting every department. In this case, we are talking about IT as an integral part of our operations.
When it comes to transformation programs, why they are as long as they are and why they are as costly as they are and why we hear about fatigue is because sometimes they are just too ambitious. Either you have only one chance to make a business case to get funding for the project or you are too late in the game and need to make up a lot of ground through one big transformation. In either case, it's probably the wrong approach, and I think that if the projects are planned properly in smaller bits and pieces and the budgeting is also managed better then I believe we will get more buy-in and support from the rest of the stakeholders, and we will have more success in transformation projects in general.
We hear from some CEOs of transformation disasters but only because they are not led properly (leadership is a real issue), the talent or skill is inexperienced or the project was over-ambitious. We are now seeing progressive operators presenting roadmaps for transformation that are timely, that are based on needs, not necessity, and these will have more chance of success.
Tony Poulos is a BSS Evangelist at TM Forum