Digital Transformation & Maturity

DTW 2018: Keynote panel points to successful transformation efforts

Up to 70% of digital transformation programs fail, but attendees of Digital Transformation World got to hear from two communications service providers (CSPs) that are bucking that trend.

During Tuesday’s keynotes, Enrique Blanco, Group CTO, Telefónica Global, and Shankar Arumugavelu, Senior VP and CIO, Verizon, joined Andrew Feinberg, President and CEO, Netcracker, for a panel discussion moderated by TM Forum Chief Analyst Mark Newman. Both telcos have completed significant portions of their digital transformation programs with help from Netcracker and other solution providers.

Focus on customer centricity

Telefónica’s operating companies provide service to 343 million subscribers in 17 countries in Europe and North, Central and South America. The group is in the midst of a massive business transformation effort focusing on three main goals for end-to-end digitalization: increasing customer satisfaction, driving sales and boosting efficiency.

To achieve these goals, the company is taking a platform approach focusing on:

  • Radical process automation
  • Creating a truly digital (and omnichannel) customer experience
  • Deploying smart networks that take advantage of 5G and virtualization and cloud technology
  • Creating a digital value proposition

Regarding technology transformation, Blanco noted that Telefónica is being cautious with rolling out network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN). “We are building multi-vendor and orchestrator capacities; we’re taking a global approach trying to define that kind of layer,” he said. “But we are trying to be careful and evolve all our OSS and BSS capacities with a global approach.”

Telefónica’s “Fourth Platform” centralizes all the data about customers on top which of intelligence and analytics can be used to personalize the customer relationship. The idea is to give customers full control of their own data.

“We fully believe that without this piece we cannot give customers a full digital experience,” Blanco said. “The Telefónica project is very ambitious and we are proud of it, but also very humble, because we know that without the cooperation, the capacity and the collaboration of the industry, we cannot build successfully what we are trying to build.”

Verizon serves consumers from a single IT stack

As a US-based operator, Verizon’s operations look quite different from Telefónica’s when it comes to consumer fixed line and mobile services because it is not operating in multiple countries. But Verizon has acquired several companies and its enterprise business is global, so it faces similar challenges.

“Our entire base of wireless serving 115 million customers runs on a single stack of systems…and the same thing on our fixed broadband side as well,” Arumugavelu said.

Culture is a very big part of digital transformation, he added. “We have a focus on how we shift from that ‘command-and-control culture’ to empowering teams to get things done.”

On a scale of 1 to 10, Arumugavelu said Verizon is at about a 6 when it comes to completing cultural transformation.

“Digital transformation only works when it is top down and bottom up as well. A big part of this is unlearning things. Here at Verizon we say that what made us successful isn’t going to get us where we need to go. So there has to be willingness to unlearn and then learn new ways of doing things.”

Tips from Netcracker

Newman noted that Netcracker is a partner to many telcos trying to achieve digital transformation. He asked Feinberg if there is one right or wrong way to transform.

“That’s like asking someone which kid they love best,” Feinberg joked. “There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all transformation.”

But there are some common threads, he said. All companies, for example, need to be able to answer questions like: What are you trying to achieve? What are the true objectives? What are the tangible results? How do you measure them?

“Execution is the hardest part and that’s where cultural transformation comes into play,” he said.

Watch the full discussion below:


    About The Author

    Managing Editor

    Dawn Bushaus began her career in technology journalism in 1989 at Telephony magazine, which means she’s been writing about networking for a quarter century. (She wishes she didn’t have to admit that because it probably gives you a good idea of how old she really is.) In 1996, Dawn joined a team of journalists to start a McGraw-Hill publication called, and in 2000, she helped a team at Ziff-Davis launch The Net Economy, where she held senior writing and editing positions. Prior to joining TM Forum, she worked as a freelance analyst for Heavy Reading.

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