Over the last month I’ve attended several industry events organized by telco-focused vendors – including amongst others Amdocs, Ericsson and Huawei – and to a greater or lesser extent every vendor has highlighted business, IT and network ‘transformation’ as a growth opportunity.
Vendors are convinced they can play a pivotal role in shaping operator strategy. It’s a rare vendor these days that doesn’t provide a prominent speaking slot to someone from their consulting, systems integration or services units, or at least ensure that their product people speak the language of business processes, ‘transformation’ or ‘solution-ing’.
Of course there continues to be plenty of focus at such events on specific products and solutions addressing hot trends such as M2M, Cloud, data analytics, customer experience, security, digital commerce, etc – but in recent months it feels like there has been a subtle change of emphasis on what it is that vendors are claiming they can bring to the table.
In a way business/IT alignment is nothing new. IT vendors and management consultants have long been pitching the virtues of business/IT alignment and the need to both improve the business value of IT investments and ensure that those investments are more closely aligned with business objectives. But as is often the case the telecoms vertical is arriving relatively late to the party and is also adding its own twist to an established concept. The major vendors targeting telecom operators are only now placing an increasingly heavy emphasis on the delivery of services that closely align network and IT platform changes with business process and organizational change.
Why is this happening now? Some of this is driven by changing dynamics within operator organizations. Operator IT strategy was previously focused mainly on support but it is increasingly expected to also drive innovation and differentiation. The role of the CIO and other executive functions is changing as IT is increasingly expected to drive business strategy rather than just reflect it. Furthermore, in a lot of cases tier 1 operators are also trying to become ICT players themselves and so need partners who can support this. So it’s not surprising that operators are searching out partners – whether vendors, MSPs or management consultants – who can help them bridge the gap between business and IT.
The increasing complexity and multidimensional nature of the relationship between multiple systems and platforms is also a factor. For example, a major BSS transformation within an operator is as likely as not to trigger a need to transform both the BI and Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) structure and the way different departments and functions work together.