May 15, 2019
NICE -- Digital Transformation World 2019 -- The annual gathering of telecom software maestros is underway on the French Riviera at the TM Forum's main annual event. The main topics of conversation and presentation are as you'd expect: If I had a dollar for every time someone said "transformation," "agile" or "pivot," I'd be able to buy you all dinner at one of this fine French city's magnificent brasseries.
But outside the conference sessions, what have people been talking about?
According to Light Reading sources, Deutsche Telekom CIO Peter Leukert, who joined the German operator in 2017, shared a withering view of the telco IT systems he inherited. Speaking at a closed-door CXO Summit here in Nice, Leukert noted that while his official role is CIO, the state of the systems he's working with make the job title "chief archaeologist" more appropriate… Light Reading isn't sure if that comment raised a laugh or not. Leukert is also reportedly not so keen on the 'T' word -- that's 'Transformation' of course. It underpins most of the conversations here in Nice, but it is now starting to be seen as something of a toxic term, it seems. At DT, its use is barred because of its link to projects that take years to execute and often, ultimately, lead to disappointment. There are some interesting companies here I had heard about but not previously met. Couchbase is one. It has a distributed, cloud-friendly NoSQL database (as opposed to traditional relational databases) designed for the large data sets that telcos are increasingly having to manage. Its service provider customers include BT (for its BT TV unit), UK broadcaster Sky (now part of Comcast), Megafon, Telefónica, Verizon and Vodafone Spain, and it also has relationships with Cisco and Amdocs, where its database is embedded in the Amdocs CES platform. The company is privately owned, has raised $146 million in funding over six rounds and looks to be on course for an IPO in the next 12-18 months. The latest company to be handing out branded socks (they are the new T-shirt, it seems) is Enghouse Networks, which has been building out a portfolio of OSS, BSS and value-added services platform capabilities by executing a string of strategic acquisitions, the latest of which is the proposed purchase of Espial, a move that will take Enghouse into the pay-TV platform sector. The company, which is profitable and turns over more than C$300 million (US$223 million) per year, has a very targeted and publicly articulated M&A strategy, so no doubt it has some scouts on the show floor here in Nice to spot any new potential acquisition targets. Its past purchases include test and measurement vendor Tollgrade Communications and Nordic telecom expense management (TEM) specialist ProOpti. So what's the idea behind the footwear giveaways? "We're all about being SOC [service operations center] compliant," says one wag at the Enghouse booth. TM Forum, the organization behind the Digital Transformation World event, has been saving up its announcements for this week. It published an interesting RFP-bashing report, unveiled its Open Digital Framework, boasted of additional Tier 1 operator support for its Open APIs initiative, and announced the development of an AI Readiness Check. The Forum also announced that the event is shifting from its traditional home of Nice (in May) to Copenhagen from June 2020. News of that move came as an unwelcome surprise to a number of exhibitors that Light Reading spoke with, though the Forum claims everyone's on board and that its overall cost analysis is favorable. I guess they'll find out next year how many supporters and attendees are ready to head to northern Europe for the annual jamboree. — Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading
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