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Digital Transformation: Telecom Executives Sound Off

Stan Hubbard

Service providers need to partner with enterprise customers to help them transform their businesses. That requires service providers to transform themselves.

To help meet those needs, MEF18 recently wrapped up its annual event in Los Angeles, where programming focused on enabling agile, assured and orchestrated communications services for the digital economy.

In the first of a two-part series, MEF18 sponsors and key members of the organization discuss industry trends and emerging technologies that are shaping the market and how they address their customers' needs.

We spoke with Roman Pacewicz, chief product officer, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T); Shahar Steiff, AVP New Technologies, PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008); and Eric Cevis, senior vice president and group president, Verizon Partner Solutions.

MEF: What are the top service capabilities your enterprise and/or wholesale customers are looking for in this era of digital transformation?

Steiff: Customers are looking for speed of delivery, automation wherever possible, diversity of options while maintaining simplicity of ordering.

Cevis: In the digital economy, what's obvious to us is that digital is going to continue to transform entire industries. Think about the impact IoT, AI, VR is already having around the world -- you can probably multiply that a thousand-fold over the next ten years, and especially as 5G enters our world. What our customers want most of all is a technology partner who can help them gain an advantage in the digital economy. Yes, they want innovative solutions -- software-defined networking capabilities, IoT solutions, built in security, managed services -- but they also want someone with the experience and expertise to help them make the most of their business opportunities. Verizon expects that digital technology will continue to be a business enabler, but also that it will become ever more firmly embedded into our customers' business. It won't be a question of building out a technology deployment to enable a solution -- in a virtual world, the technology will all happen invisibly behind the scenes.

MEF: How is your company responding to address customer requirements? (Network transformation, business processes, cultural change, training, etc.)

Pacewicz: AT&T has a combination of a next-generation network, the technology and global reach that can bring it all together for customers. Our intelligent network platform brings everything together for our business customers -- edge to edge -- from the end points, to connectivity and to the cloud, wrapped in security. In addition, our transformation to software-defined networking is well under way. Our goal is to virtualize 75% of our network by 2020, and we hit our mark of 55% in 2017. Our software-centric network enables us to deploy new capabilities and capacity faster than we could before, while quickly identifying and addressing issues to minimize customer impact. At the same time, we're moving to a "white box" approach for hardware where possible. Rather than the traditional, proprietary vendor model, we're creating open specifications for our routers and other equipment that any manufacturer can build. It's faster, more flexible and less costly.

Steiff: PCCW Global is responding to the challenges in many aspects of its operations, processes and corporate culture. On the service diversity side PCCW Global has introduced a new business line that addresses the media and security markets in parallel to our traditional transport services, leveraging on both sides to increase value. On the service automation side PCCW Global has launched its Console-Connect platform that has enabled portal-based ordering and activation of services on-demand. Those services include connectivity between thousands of end points, and public cloud connectivity. We are enriching the capabilities to include multi-domain services through our established array of E-NNI partners. In addition to that PCCW Global is leading the blockchain-driven wholesale carrier settlement initiatives which drive automation in wholesale transactions such as voice, mobile and data-on-demand. Our PoC at the MEF18 showcase demonstrated blockchain-based federated BSS functions (through the LSO Sonata IRP) such as inquiry, quoting, ordering and settlement across a chain of E-NNI-connected carrier networks.

Next page: Key trends driving industry transformation

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