Digital Transformation & Maturity

‘Smile more’ and other suggestions for improving CSP culture

It’s no secret that there is room for improvement in the working culture of most communications service providers (CSPs). But do CSP executives have a clear idea about what they need to do to improve culture? And is there consensus across CSPs (or even within them) about what these improvements might be?

In our second Digital Transformation Tracker survey, we are asking CSP respondents to list the three things they would do to improve the culture within their organizations. Rather than presenting respondents with a pre-defined list of responses, we are allow them to express in their own words what needs to be done.

We’re received more than 120 responses so far and, as you might expect, a wide range of different ideas. However, a number of themes are beginning to emerge. They can be grouped into the following categories:

  1. Vision and leadership one in five respondents points a finger at senior management, either directly or indirectly. In some cases, respondents reckon that senior management needs to define a strategy or vision; others believe that it’s more about articulating the vision.
  2. Risk-taking, empowerment and innovation – we have chosen to group these terms because many CSP executives share the believe that there are too few opportunities for individuals and teams to create their own solutions or services. They reference ‘fail-fast’ cultures at digital companies.
  3. Organizational structures and silos – the terms ‘hierarchy’ and ‘silos’ are coming up regularly in our survey. Respondents seem to be asking for three things: fewer departmental silos and more initiatives to set up cross-departmental teams and initiatives; a flatter organisation; smaller teams; and more unified organizations with common goals and mindsets.
  4. Skills, training and recruitment – nearly 20 percent of respondents have identified training (for digital skills, human resources and leadership) as something that could improve company culture. A number also identified the need to recruit people with digital skills and to partner with technology suppliers.
  5. The adoption of digital processes, architectures and working practices (digital transformation) – none of our respondents so far have specifically referenced digital transformation as something that would improve culture, but many have suggested adopting technologies, processes and architectures that sit under the broader digital transformation umbrella. This includes:
    • Agility, which is the most-referenced term in the survey
    • Simplification of products, processes and systems
    • Adoption of DevOps
    • Microservices and APIs
    • Abandoning legacy systems and technologies
  6. Customer centricity – one in ten respondents identified customer centricity (customer experience, customer journeys, etc.) as something that will improve culture. This is surprisingly low given that a large proportion of our respondents (40 percent) work in the IT organization where the focus on customer journeys and customer experience has a very high profile.

Some respondents have taken a more specific approach to identifying how to improve their company’s culture. One suggested that selling the company to a private investor might be the best approach. Another urged people in the company to “smile more”.

Interestingly, there is little evidence so far that CSP executives believe that their organizations have to act quickly to bring about change. Only three respondents so far have said that there needs to be greater urgency to do things differently or better – despite the fact that this is the message form many of their technology partners.

Tell us what you think about CSP culture

Survey for CSPs
Survey for technology vendors and suppliers


    About The Author

    Chief Analyst

    Mark Newman is an analyst with 25 years of experience delivering insights on the future of the telecoms sector to senior level executives and audiences. Mark’s recent research has focussed on telecoms operator business models, digital transformation, service provider diversification, and the intersection between Internet and telecoms. He delivers analysis, presentations, strategy sessions and workshops to global audiences, helping them to plan for the changes that technology and disruptive new business models that will fundamentally transform their businesses. Mark was Chief Research Officer at Informa Telecoms & Media and Ovum before leaving to set up his own research firm, ConnectivityX, in 2016. He joined the TM Forum as Chief Analyst in February 2017.

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