Best kept telecom secret

Tony Sceale, Celona
19 Dec 2007

There are few subjects in IT circles that cause such an extreme reaction as data migration. Surveys show that data migration is pretty much universally loathed. Most of us are aware of migrations that haven't been delivered on time or to budget. It's also fairly well recognized that migrations usually fail because of well-documented reasons that as an industry we keep repeating.

The good news for both the IT department, and the business as a whole, is that data migration is coming out of the IT shadows and is increasingly finding itself on center stage.

Business managers in some of the world's largest telcos are starting to recognize the key role data migration can play in making their businesses more competitive. In response, large SIs and vendors such as Accenture, IBM and Tech Mahindra have been quietly investing in both people and processes to create best practice. Awareness is growing and "Ëœmigration' is being whispered in many circles as "Ëœthe next big thing.'

There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that the motivation for data migrations has fundamentally changed. Historically, migrations were due to issues such as re-platforming applications to decrease costs and increase efficiency. Today, the motivation for migrations is increasingly due to revenue drivers. This change signals a shift in responsibility for migrations from IT to business - a fundamental, far-reaching change of huge significance.

Business drivers are increasingly stimulating a new wave of application and data migration. Just as we expect a responsible and well-run business to take close control of its resources, ensuring better control of its customer data is a key part of good management.

Data migration presents an opportunity to actually improve the quality, quantity and storage of customer data. It should deliver a tangibly improved customer experience, which means that the business gains extra traction over and above non-disruption of business functions. In short, we should be seeing positive change from our migrations.

Industry analyst Teresa Cottam notes that the lack of business awareness about migrations stems from the fact that they are a relatively new phenomenon.

"Telecoms IT systems were traditionally built to last. They were implemented tactically as required, and this strategy consistently countered an attempt to plan an overall architecture. Very little thought was given to the fact that eventually systems would need to be retired or replaced," she notes. "The result is that IT systems are impeding business development at a time when competition is increasing.

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