Mindset shifts to stay relevant

Martin Creaner, TM Forum
22 Nov 2010

The telecom industry has had a long-running love affair with technology. From the earliest days of communications, we have obsessed about the technical sophistication of telephony, radio, fiber, cellular, while paying too little attention to the underlying business issues. We obsess about the technical requirements surrounding a new network technology while often being blind to the business case that supports this investment.

Of course, as competition has become more savage, most telcos have outgrown this love affair and become more balanced in their outlook. Most companies now recognize that while the technology is important and enables the business, the technology is only an enabler. Business models, product portfolio structures, customer engagement structure and market positioning are all peers to the technology and deserve equal attention.

I have to admit I see parallels to this changing mindset in the evolution of TM Forum over the past five years. As an industry association representing the communications industry, we have moved from viewing the creation of technical standards as being our goal to a position where we recognize that the job is not done until the standard has been adopted and is delivering real benefits to our members.

Where we were once purely focused on the needs of the development and standards community, we're now getting a lot more interest, participation and direction from CEOs, CIO and chief strategy officers of major telcos and suppliers. This has allowed us to evolve our collaborative efforts to be driven from strategic business problems toward fit-for-purpose technical solutions, rather than developing technical solutions in a vacuum.

So while the technical aspect is still at the forefront of what TM Forum does, everything we do these days is sanity checked against the real business need that it is helping solve.

Our Business Benchmarking is a good example of this sort of mindset shift. This program is of fundamental interest to C-level executives, because we're defining metrics that measure the performance of their organization's operational performance, customer care, billing and much more. First, we define clear, unambiguous metrics, and then we run benchmarks where you can compare your company against your peers. Every executive needs this kind of information at their fingertips.

Since we launched our Business Benchmarking program, we've found that it allows us to define the tangible impacts of implementing standards such as the Information Framework (SID) or the Business Process Framework (eTOM) to the operational performance of a service provider.

Our benchmarking program produces a number of business intelligence reports a year that contain analysis of current industry issues supported by details from recent benchmarking studies. These reports, along with our wider insights research reports, catch the attention of C-level executives because they help people at the highest levels within an organization to make strategic decisions.

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