After two years in Dublin, the Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) sector's biggest annual get-together, the TM Forum's Management World 2013, is back in Nice, France (May 13-16).
In my opinion, this is now the second most important industry gathering for telecom executives in the calendar, after Mobile World Congress. Communications service providers (CSPs) the world over are desperate to figure out how to lower their operating costs, develop new services/applications, better understand their customers and deal with competitive threats such as over-the-top (OTT) video and there's a better chance of meeting the right people and finding some answers at Management World than at just about any other event.
Light Reading editors and Heavy Reading analysts will be at the show, checking out the latest developments.
So as we gear up for a week of sun, sea, sand and SPIT, here are five thoughts about this year's jamboree.
Software-defined networking (SDN) and its close relation network functions virtualization (NFV) are just about the hottest topics in the whole industry. But while much focus has been placed on physical network topologies and the development of OpenFlow-based switches, less attention has been paid to the impact on existing network management systems and the development of new OSS and BSS tools that could play a critical role in enabling SDN and NFV. This needs to be a major talking point in Nice, even if it isn't on the official agenda. (See SDN Nirvana Still a Distant Dream (Part 1).)
The development of analytics systems for telcos, and the overall topic of Big Data, was a major theme at Management World 2012 and it looks like it's going to be even bigger this year -- with good reason. As more LTE networks come online and more high-cost smartphones make their way into users' hands, having accurate, relevant and useful insights into the way devices and applications are being used is increasingly critical to CSPs' business operations. The TM Forum held a standalone event on this topic earlier in the year and the insights were very interesting, not least because this sector is at the early stages of development and everyone -- vendors and network operators alike -- is still finding their feet. (See The Big Data Challenge: 10 Tips for Telcos and Telefónica Battles Big Data Hype.)
I expect to see more evidence that CSPs are reorganizing themselves to cope with the imminent challenges they face. Telefónica SA, for example, created a whole new business unit, Telefónica Digital, to engage with the wider digital world and explore new services opportunities. It's not alone -- others that have done likewise include Etisalat and Telenor ASA. This operational shift has enabled new business practices more suitable for the current digital communications sector. More traditional telcos should be doing the same -- if they're not, they may find themselves falling behind. (See Telefónica: A New Breed of Telco.)
Expect to see even greater recognition of the fact (and it is a fact) that telecom software and telecom-specific IT systems are now just as important, if not more so, than the physical networks that have been the telcos' main assets up to now. We've been saying it for years – SPIT Is IT! Believe it. (See The SPIT Manifesto 2.0.)
After two years in the Irish capital, the event is back at its spiritual home, the Acropolis center in Nice. YES, YES, YES, YES!!!! And believe me, I'm not the only one happy with the return to the south of France. For sure, Nice is a great place to be in May, but it's not just about the weather and ambiance. The town is familiar turf for the telecom software community, who know where they want to stay and where to take customers and partners to dinner. And, of course, who doesn't like to feel the warm sun in the morning and evening pre- and post- the day's events? It makes everyone happy and that makes them want to communicate and do business. (Now, watch it pour with rain all week …)
— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
re: Five 'Nice' Thoughts Last year a big topic was data pricing changes, but that seems to be less of a focus this year although big-data analytics does play into it. We haven't seen all that much change in pricing given how much the vendors are talking up the possibilities.
I'm also wanting to hear more about how operators are doing REAL customer experience management (again big data has a role).
And, I'm super pumped for Nice, although I was also a big fan of Dublin...maybe one of few!
A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.