Digital Transformation & Maturity

Tackling culture: CSPs identify leadership and vision as key priorities

When it comes to addressing the cultural challenges around transformation we often talk about getting the right balance between “top-down” and “bottom-up approaches”. In other words, change needs to be embraced throughout the organisation – all the way from the board of directors to customer care agents.

In the second edition of our Digital Transformation Tracker survey, Digital Transformation Tracker 2: How to fix the cultural divide we asked senior managers at CSPs across the world to name three things which, in their opinion, would improve the culture at their organisations. We distilled their responses (180 respondents, each giving three suggestions) into six broad categories:

  • Vision and leadership
  • Risk-taking, empowerment and innovation
  • Organisational structures and silos
  • Skills, training and recruitment
  • The deployment of digital working practices, processes and architectures
  • Customer centricity

One in five of our respondents pointed a finger at senior management, either directly or indirectly. In some cases, respondents reckoned that senior management needs to define a strategy or vision; others believe that it’s more about articulating and communicating the vision. The fact that many operators are carrying out several transformation programs concurrently with little or – or insufficient – coordination between them may help to explain this lack of a coherent strategy or vision.

But our respondents were under no illusion that without a consistent vision, communicated clearly and regularly throughout the organisation, it was difficult for different teams and functions to establish a solid basis for prioritizing and reprioritizing tens or hundreds of competing tasks and demands on their time.

There is no single definition of a vision. However, it necessarily needs to envision the longer term. A distinctive, ideally unique mission set within the context of the capabilities or the organisation, its competition and the prospects for the economy is also integral. But it should also have an internal, operational context by defining a path by which the firm can grow.

Many CSPs are reluctant to set a bold vision because it requires them to take a view on the extent to which they should (or can) diversify away from their core (legacy) business. But even if they are unprepared to set a vision in terms of their business (model), there may be other approaches towards articulating a vision. A vision could put customer centricity at its core, or maybe agility or perhaps the concept of ‘openness’ as a demonstration of its commitment to build (and participating in) ecosystems. Such principles could then become guiding principles for organisational structure and remuneration.

The second category of responses covers risk-taking, empowerment and innovation. This is, arguably, more of a bottom-up than a top-down issue. For CSPs to become more innovative they must empower smaller teams (brought together perhaps from different teams) to create services and solutions outside of strict hierarchies and organisational silos. But such empowerment can be challenging for mid-managers many of whom owe their power, influence and remuneration to their managerial responsibilities. A number of operators are now experimenting with cross-functional teams, for example to create new digital capabilities, but these tend to come together (and disband) on an ad-hoc basis.

Skills, training and recruitment was another theme that came out strongly in our survey. Suggestions included “a continuous digital training roll-out” and specific training programs on areas including data and analytics, orchestration and IoE.

Digital Transformation Tracker 2: How to fix the cultural divide is now available as an online report. Click here.


    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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