NICE, France -- TM Forum Live -- The TM Forum is launching a new software app that will allow telcos to monitor their progress on digital transformation amid concern that some departments are being left behind or transforming in the wrong way.
The digital maturity model, as the app is called, allows users to rank their performance across a range of criteria. The resulting data can be analyzed and measured against industry best practice, or used to set targets and ensure that different parts of the business are in harmony.
Unveiled at this week's TM Forum Live conference in Nice, the app has already been endorsed by a number of big-name service providers, including BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA), China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU), Orange (NYSE: FTE), PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD).
Nik Willetts, the CEO of the TM Forum , said that operators would start using the model later this month.
"We kept hearing from operators that they were running into organizational and cultural challenges and that the broader business wasn't really transforming," Willetts told Light Reading when explaining what motivated his association to begin developing the app. "There are lots of opportunities associated with services beyond connectivity, but transformation efforts are often siloed and lack clear measurement or destination."
The TM Forum says that in a recent survey it carried out some 54% of respondents admitted that previous transformation efforts had been unsuccessful. Willetts believes that failure typically happens because of a "disconnect" between senior managers and the perceptions and experiences of lower-level staff -- an issue the app could help to address.
In developing the model, the TM Forum appears to have examined best practices across a range of organizations, including operators as well as consulting firms and big software houses.
The app comprises a total of 175 different measures based around five broad categories: customer; strategy; technology; operations; and culture, people and organization.
"In practice it means you are looking to survey a good proportion of [staff in] each department, with perhaps 5% to 10% using the app to answer relevant questions about their area and everyone answering questions about culture," says Willetts. "Then you bring different leaders together and try to understand why there are differences of opinion, and from there you can look at where you need to invest to produce change."
Willetts also provided an update on the TM Forum's Open APIs initiative, aimed at creating a set of common, "catalog-based" components that operators can easily reuse as they develop their service and IT platforms. (See 9 Global Telcos Back Open APIs Scheme.)
A total of 26 different organizations are now committed to the "API manifesto," says Willetts, including the nine big operator groups that signed up to the initiative at last year's TM Forum Live event.
"APIs are live in 14 different markets with service providers and by the end of the year we expect that to be up to just shy of 30," says Willetts.
With the number of APIs rising from 18 to 31 in the last year, Willetts says the next step will be to see how APIs can be used to create new service and revenue opportunities.
Among other things, the TM Forum is holding an "enterprise hack" session here in Nice. That will see developers from a variety of different companies using APIs in network slicing and 5G scenarios.
Willetts also says that several of the operator groups involved with the initiative are using APIs to roll out offerings across their various subsidiaries.
The emergence of new associations addressing open source and software challenges has raised questions about the relevance of the TM Forum, especially as operators look at replacing their traditional OSS and BSS with modern digital technologies.
But Willetts insists the TM Forum still has a clear role to play and continues to attract interest. "Our point of view has been to welcome and work with new organizations, especially around open source, and we can provide a lot of the common language as well as the collaborative vehicle," he says.
"We're not a standards body but at the intersection between business and technology and I think that's needed now more than ever as complexity grows," Willetts added. "When we talk about these different models, there is a need for a common point of reference."
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading