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Mgmt World: Here's That Rainy Day

Carol Wilson
5/27/2011

8:00 AM -- DUBLIN -- Management World 2011 TM Forum is reporting 15 percent higher attendance at this year's event, and plenty of people are willing to attribute that to the change in location from Nice to Dublin.

More direct flights and some really inexpensive ones -- gotta love those cheap flights from Ryan Air -- have enabled more people to come, or so the thinking goes.

But even TM Forum President Martin Creaner admits the attendance may reflect just how deep the pain is at many traditional telecom service providers, who are facing dwindling traditional voice revenue, flat business services, and a wireless trend of more traffic without increased revenue.

"There are an awful lot of pain points -- the boards of the service providers have begun to focus on the exact area of the TM Forum," Creaner says, namely driving costs out of legacy operations and finding new revenue opportunities from cloud and wireless services.

TM Forum vendors could have reason to rejoice about their growing relevance, especially since many of them have endured years of interest that didn't come with contracts attached.

"After several years of seeing the same people who stop by to say 'hi' but aren't buying, we've seen signs of a lot more interest, both in Barcelona [at Mobile World Congress] and here," says Grant Lenahan, vice president-strategy at Telcordia Technologies Inc. .

There's the temptation to be a bit cynical about the sincerity of efforts to transform the back-office operations -- raise your hand if you've heard this all before -- but what's different this time around is the opportunity/challenge that mobile data represents.

There is general agreement that, as TM Forum's Matthew Edwards, director of the Cloud Service Initiative, puts it, the major wireless providers have "messed up their core business with unlimited data plans," and are now looking to their software and OSS vendors for help with new business models.

"We're seeing a lot more movement, and the focus is on the bottom line, helping them address revenue," says Christopher Hoover of policy company Openet Telecom Ltd. Data caps are not enough, he adds, because they didn't address demand or traffic.

But just as the skies over Dublin were frequently cloudy and the winds blew consistently at uncomfortable speeds, there are still rainy days ahead for many telecom service providers and the winds of change need to keep blowing for some time to come, or this latest resurgence of interest in transforming the back office will become just another trade show story.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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