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Telcos Face 'Dramatic Disruption' – TMF Exec

Carol Wilson

NICE, France -- TM Forum Live! -- Service providers are facing "dramatic disruptions" to their business that will require sweeping cultural and organizational change and likely threaten most of current industry practices and processes, TM Forum VP-Strategy Ken Dilbeck warns here today.

"What is required is a radical, disruptive approach to [operations and business support systems] and orchestration," Dilbeck says, kicking off an NFV Workshop prior to the opening of the TM Forum 's annual event.

The primary goal is to be able to develop new services and capabilities rapidly, but that will require "relooking at all of our infrastructure top to bottom and determining what has to change, what has to be more flexible and more dynamic," Dilbeck says.

But network operators must also be willing to undergo sweeping internal changes that fundamentally change their culture and organizational structure, even though that process will be painful and difficult.

Converging network and IT resources into a single set of on-demand capabilities will "produce power and political struggles within corporate infrastructure because boundaries will have to be broken down," Dilbeck warns. He cites one immediate example: Lengthy, costly procurement processes that take years and cost millions will be replaced by a phone call to Best Buy, using a credit card, or outsourcing of the entire process to a specialty vendor.

Network operators also must learn to succeed as part of a solution or ecosystem and not necessarily be the partner in charge, he adds.

"There will be an evolution into a value fabric, and you might not be the center of the chain-delivering service, from the SLA perspective," Dilbeck says. "In the future, you will be in a different role. In some cases, you will have the customer relationship but in others, you won't. "

Dilbeck says the TM Forum is stepping up through its Project Zoom to enable all of this change and to exploit the collective intelligence of not only the telecom industry but other industries such as IT and the Internet players. (See TM Forum Tries ZOOMing to NFV.)

Promising to "be radical," Dilbeck says Project Zoom will set a target for all of this transformation and define the migration path from where carriers are today to the target point. Along the way, he says, Project Zoom will not reinvent the wheel, but will re-use best practices from the computing industry and elsewhere and take a real-world practical approach to enabling transformation that must happen for service providers to succeed.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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User Rank: Lightning
6/2/2014 | 3:18:33 PM
Re: Disruption Common Now
Would you care to elaborate on the sources of these disruptions?

Given the disruptions that people have seen both with telecom bubble of 2000 and housing bubble of 2008, coupled with the relentless growth of Internet traffic and erosion of revenue per bit, I'd like to like that people can adapt to many situations.

The disruptions I'm hearing about this spring are related to beef and pork prices, which, at the margin may affect discretionary spending of lower-income customers, but hardly represent a clear-and-present danger to the entire telecom industry.

So far, SDN and NFV seem to be a forest-clearing exercise, and I am following developments in this field, I haven't seen anything there to convince me that it's a dramatic disruption.

Is there something out there that's obvious that I have missed?
sam masud
sam masud,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/2/2014 | 2:59:02 PM
Re: Disruption Common Now

Undoubtedly, service providers are in for a major disruption, perhaps bigger than anything we've seen to date. Moving from circuit to packet networking was hugely challenging and disruptive. No need for TMF to ring the alarm bells--except, perhaps, to inject a little excitement into the show. But I'd think Nice is exciting enough :-)

Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
6/2/2014 | 11:20:15 AM
Re: Disruption Common Now
Phil, you make a good point but this is a matter of degree. What I am hearing over and over again here in Nice is that there is a period of pain lying ahead. I just heard it again from Fred Feisullin of Sprint - there is a level of disruption ahead that is going to rock the telecom culture harder than previous transitions, even the Internet and the telecom bubble bursting. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/2/2014 | 11:16:46 AM
Re: Disruption Common Now
It's the annual TMF "sky is falling" presentation. At some point, the sky will fall. Or not. Meanwhile, network operators continue to adapt to a rapidly changing environment -- some better than others, but there are very few who aren't making the effort.
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/2/2014 | 11:06:37 AM
Disruption Common Now
The idea of business disruption in telecom should be nothing new. Since the mid-1990s when the Internet first started getting more common business and consumer use, the challenges and opportunities in telcom have been shifting, with disruption being more commonplace every year. 

Being nimble enough to take advantage of new opportunities and to ward off new threats is the distinction between successful teleocm companies and unsuccessful ones.
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/2/2014 | 5:49:46 AM
To Lightreading webmaster, Please fix the GRAYISH color of the text in the articles.  It makes them very difficult and unappealing to read.
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