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Entel training program reskills staff for techco future

Entel is equipping its employees with Open API and ODA skills as part of its move to become a techco.

Dawn BushausDawn Bushaus
15 Feb 2024
Entel training program reskills staff for techco future

Entel training program reskills staff for techco future

Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones S.A., commonly known as Entel, is the largest telecommunications company in Chile and Peru, with 20.2 million subscribers – 10.6 million in Chile and 9.6 million in Peru. As the company nears the end of a multi-year digital transformation effort to combine and modernize operations, it is putting the focus on standards.

During 2023, more than 700 staff members from Entel’s CIO organization participated in TM Forum training courses focusing on the Open Digital Architecture (ODA) and Open APIs. Now, the company plans to extend the training to its network team and other departments.

“Entel started the transformation in 2015, completed the B2C/B2B BSS and OSS transformation in 2019 and are now about three quarters of the way toward completing the B2B transformation,” says Pedro Vieira, Head of Enterprise Architecture and Digital Enablers at Entel. “As part this transformation, the company has also moved many of its business applications and platforms to Oracle Cloud (OCI) and is now implementing an e-commerce solution with Oracle. At the same time, Entel is working with Ericsson to support 5G standalone, which requires a cloud-native core.”

He adds: “So, this training doesn’t come from the need for transformation itself – that’s done already. Now, we want to get closer to standards as we move from telco to becoming a techco.”

Entel has been implementing a new digital architecture, IT landscape and operating model. This includes transitioning as many of its operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) as possible to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and a NoOps (NoIT) model, says Entel CIO Carlos Palito. (Short for ‘no operations’, NoOps is a term originally coined by Forrester Research to describe an IT environment so highly automated that there is no need for an operations team to manage it.)

So far, Entel’s transformation has delivered impressive results. A July 2023 analysis by McKinsey & Co. finds that the company has been able to cut IT spending by 35% – and IT spending as a share of revenue (ITR) is less than 2.8% compared to 4.6% in 2014. Entel also has been able to reduce its full-time IT workforce by 35%, and has cut time to market for new services threefold.

Another important benefit of the open, component-based approach is eliminating vendor lock-in, according to Carlos Palito, making replacement of commercial or custom solutions much easier.

Focusing on standards

Embracing standards is a necessary next step to speed up integration of Entel’s partners and software suppliers. “We are working very closely with Oracle and Ericsson, core product and R&D teams, pushing them to expose and consume Open APIs,” Pedro Vieira says. “We want to talk Open APIs with all our vendors.” Both Ericsson and Oracle are among the first telecom suppliers to offer ODA-compliant products and services.

Toward that end, Entel makes compliance with the Open APIs mandatory in its RFPs. The company also relies on the ODA, a component-based approach that enables CSPs to evolve to a fully automated, cloud-native operations environment, using analytics and AI to deliver zero-touch services. The ODA defines standardized, interoperable software components organized into loosely coupled domains. These components expose business services through the Open APIs, which are built on a common data model.

Over a period of six months more than 700 Entel employees participated in five different TM Forum training courses:

  • Open Digital Framework Overview – this two-day overview explains how all TM Forum’s assets work together. The Open Digital Framework (ODF) comprises the ODA and Open APIs plus maturity models (AI and customer experience, for example), metrics, data depositories including AI training data, and a complete set of transformational toolkits.
  • Business Process Framework Fundamentals – also known as eTOM, the Business Process Framework is an industry-agreed, multi-layered view of the key business processes required to run an efficient and agile digital enterprise. It provides a common language for use across departments, systems, partners and suppliers, which reduces the costs and risks associated with implementing, integrating and procuring support systems.
  • Information Framework Fundamentals – also known as SID, the Information Framework provides an information and data reference model along with a common vocabulary for implementing business processes. This business model, which is independent of platform, language and protocol, provides the basis for a common data model and a common data dictionary, providing a foundation for developing functions, applications, components and APIs.
  • Functional Framework Fundamentals – the ODA Functional Framework details an organization’s activities from a systems point of view. It provides a common map and terminology that enterprises can refer to when navigating functional architecture.
  • Open API Fundamentals – TM Forum members have collaboratively developed more than 70 REST-based, event-driven and domain-specific Open APIs to help with systems integration and partnering, and Entel is working on several Open API certifications in addition to participating in training. Recently, TM Forum launched its Gen5 Open APIs to support the latest event-driven architectures, provide a simpler experience for developers and enable the intent-based automation, which is essential to the efficient operation and management of telecoms IT and networks.

So far, Entel employees have completed a total of about 2,200 courses (many people have participated in more than one course) and passed 1,600 tests of their knowledge. “Ideally, everyone in the company should take this training. We should all speak the same business language,” says Pedro Vieira.

As network functions are virtualized and software-defined networking is implemented, “network should come closer to IT,” Pedro Vieira adds, noting that the two teams are beginning to converge within Entel. “We aren’t there yet, but the next thing is for [network] to come on board with training,” he says.

Encouraging continuous learning

The TM Forum training is happening within a broader effort at Entel to reskill and upskill employees. Entel has had a corporate learning program in place since 2010 called Entel University, but during the Covid-19 pandemic, the company completely digitalized it. Now, employees can easily access courses designed to help them gain new skills in areas like e-commerce, cybersecurity and AI. The idea is to create a digital culture that focuses on continuous learning and self-management.

Continuous learning is key, says Pedro Vieira. Paradoxically, one of the challenges the company has faced in implementing the TM Forum training program as well as other programs is that while employees are asking Entel to offer opportunities to reskill and upskill, when it comes to doing the work they sometimes resist. One specific complaint has been about the added workload on top of busy day-to-day jobs.

But CIO team leaders try to communicate the importance of training and continuous learning to their staff by helping them see the bigger picture. “We want people who are committed to continuous learning, not just within the company but for their own futures,” Pedro Vieira says.

“With the TM Forum training, it took a while for people to realize the importance of being able to speak the same language,” he adds. “We had to educate them and give them a glimpse of where telcos can go with 5G. It’s impossible to get there without standards.”

The pathway to becoming a techco will be a hot topic at DTW24 – Ignite. View the agenda: DTW24 - Agenda (tmforum.org)