Evolution needed in telecom sector

Martin Creaner
TM Forum
As someone who's been in and around the telecom industry for a long time, I have seen sweeping changes over the years. At its basic level, we've gone from a world of monopoly fixed line service providers, to a de-regulated one where CLECs temporarily roamed, to the fragmented mobile-centric/Internet-centric business of today, where players like Amazon and Google and innovative device companies like Apple and RIM lead the way.
 
We've also gone from a telecom world that was very much focused on voice services and maybe a handful of ancillary products such as call forwarding, conference calling and the like, to one where voice is a declining product, and the focus is on data services and the almost infinite variety of apps you can run on the iPhone, iPad or latest gizmo based on Droid.
 
How quaint the telecom world of just 20 years ago might look to someone who wasn't even alive when AT&T broke up into the Baby Bells, setting the stage for what's now known more broadly as the "communications" industry. But even as government regulation and mandates helped put the wheels in motion for the evolution of the industry, not all of the changes are being forced on the various players. In truth, most operators are actively seeking out these changes, and a very natural broadening of focus areas and themes has been taking place.
 
In our rapidly changing and evolving world, I firmly believe that the only way traditional telcos and other providers as well as their vendors will survive is to adapt to the current environment and even reinvent themselves along the way. For example, two of the most traditional operators in the world – AT&T and BT – are among the trailblazers in the cloud services space. They clearly saw the linkages between the seemingly disparate topics of communications and the cloud. And they are just the tip of the iceberg. I'm seeing and hearing about more and more companies that are finding ways to reinvent themselves by expanding into new potential markets and redesigning product offerings.
 
If providers just stuck with voice services 20 years ago and never bothered to join the wireless revolution, start offering smartphones and move out of their comfort zone by delivering television and broadband services, they'd probably be out of business today.
 
Instead, the ones that have remained successful and relevant have done so by constantly evolving and reinventing themselves. And as an industry association that includes many of these service providers, their vendors and system integrators in its membership ranks, TM Forum over the past several years has also consciously been looking for linkages between the traditional telecom world and new emerging opportunities that allow us to apply our expertise.
 

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