TMF to Service Providers: Get Moving!
In announcing the group's "Top 10 Predictions for 2011," in a webinar found here, TM Forum Chairman and CEO Keith Willetts and Rob Rich, an industry research consultant, repeatedly stressed the need for rapid movement by telecom service providers if they hope to compete with various other players in new revenue areas such as cloud computing, machine-to-machine communications, smart grid, mobile advertising, mobile banking and use of social networking.
In each of these markets, the TM Forum sees major growth but also major competition from Internet players, integrators, banks, utilities and others that threatens to leave slower-moving telecom service providers in the dust.
"The market won't wait" for telecom companies to get their act together, Willetts said on several occasions during the webinar, broadcast Thursday.
The competition varies, but in each instance, the threat is that telecom service providers become the pipe over which someone else makes money or -- in the case of smart-grid applications -- the pipe that is ignored in favor of other private network options that utility companies find.
It's a familiar story made more painful by projections that also show traditional revenues shrinking faster than new pots of money -- such as those associated with cloud computing and mobile applications -- are growing to fill the void. That reality led to another prediction from the TM Forum that the current bandwidth crunch will get worse as demand rises faster than fiber optics and next-gen wireless technologies can add capacity.
But the opportunities could abound for the fast-moving operators. Rich pointed to the cloud computing market for small to mid-sized businesses as one where telecom service providers can leverage their existing brand recognition and contacts to offer a wealth of services -- if they are willing to partner and perhaps serve as cloud service brokers.
"This is a category that is growing," Rich said. And by partnering with smaller entities, telecom service providers could be more agile in developing a diverse portfolio of offerings.
The TM Forum's predictions include continued margin crunch for telecom service providers that they can't solve just by cost cutting. But there are also predicted growth markets in cloud, security, machine-to-machine, smart utilities, mobile advertising, mobile banking, social networking and data management.
Rich recommended greater use of social networks by telcos to learn more about customers and to monitor their brands and mitigate threats to that brand. Willetts urged providers to use data management to take advantage of customer information for advertising and other purposes, with "compelling opt-in strategies," of course, and rock-solid protection of that data.
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading