OSS Crew Tackles Costs, Service Creation
Those topics reflect the ongoing development of a telecom sub-sector that, only a few years ago, didn't extend much further than fault management, provisioning, and data integrity. Now, though, the same companies that used to simply support carrier networks and services are involved in the much more creative aspects of operators' back offices, including applications development, Web 2.0 integration, and service delivery platforms (SDPs).
Coupled with those developments, however, is the reality of the global economic downturn and its impact on the telecom sector. So to help identify the next immediate step for the service provider and telecom software communities, the organizer of this week's event, the TM Forum , or TMF, has convened a special meeting, called the T8, to pull together ideas from the telecom, media, and Web services worlds.
Keith Willetts, chairman of the TMF, tells Light Reading that the cost-cutting specter of 2002 has returned to haunt the telecom sector, though this time there's more emphasis by operators on cutting operating costs rather than a repeat of the drastic reductions in capex seen seven or so years ago.
So the overall aim of this year's event is to figure out how carriers can cut their costs and create new services while retaining service levels. "Those are the three cores of the conference -- [carriers] have to be able to do all three things at once," says Willetts, a former BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) man. "If you just cut your costs, you'll trash your business."
The big problem for service providers, though, is the lack of new service creation and launch (an issue that seems to be perennial). "There's precious little evidence of new services coming through. We read a lot about new services, but where are they? All the new applications [being used on the] iPhone are from the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) apps store, not from the network. So are the telcos going to do it too, or are they going back to basics? To fall back on voice and services like SMS would be a disaster."
The glimmer of hope on the horizon for carriers is mobile broadband, reckons Willetts, though it also has its risks. "There's greater potential for short-term revenues but it also enables people to provide over-the-top services and cut the carrier out [of the revenues chain,]" says the TMF man.
So the key issue to address right now is what carriers can do right now to boost their fortunes without sacrificing their futures. "That's the big question," says Willetts.
And the answer could be that carriers will, after many years of considering such a split, break themselves into separate businesses, so-called "netcos" (running the networks) and "servcos" (selling the services and dealing with end users).
"Look at the network sharing of Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) and [Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s] O2 -- will that lead to the creation of netcos and servcos? That's an economic logic -- the current recession will probably speed up that process," believes Willetts. (See VOD, O2 Share Nets and Net Sharing in the Slow Lane.)
So in addition to debating such issues, and how the telecom software sectore can respond, during the conference and on the show floor, the TMF has set up a meeting, the T8 World Summit (like the G20, except smaller and without the riots), in an effort to create a dialogue between different types of companies involved in the communications services chain.
The meeting will be awash with doctors. It will be chaired by former AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) executive Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi, who is currently an adviser to OSS firm Intelliden Corp. , among other things, and will include a presentation by Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) CTO Dr. Werner Vogels, who will provide representatives from the telecom, Web services, media, and banking sectors an update on the online retailer's IT and managed services strategy, including the launch of its cloud computing and SaaS offerings.
The meeting is an "invitation-only" affair, so no riff-raff are allowed in. As a result, no journalists will be able to ask, "Is there a doctor in the house?" during the proceedings in an effort to lighten the mood. However, Light Reading hopes to bring you some feedback from the meeting later this week.
Elsewhere at the event, there will be a heavy focus on the concept of Customer Experience Management (CEM), further developments from the growing group of vendors that support the product and service catalog approach to service creation, and, we understand, some interesting new industry partnerships to be announced. (See OSS Firms: Are You Experienced? and Going Soft in Europe.)
Light Reading will be reporting from the event for the rest of this week.
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading