Action Week: Answering the $2 trillion question

Nik Willetts, Interim CEO, TM Forum, opened the biggest ever European Action Week in Lisbon with a keynote on The New Digital Business Reality. Here’s the path he thinks telcos should follow to earn their slice of the $2 trillion digital market.

Willetts began by outlining the six mega drivers of transformation:

  • the unprecedented evolution (and availability) of technology due to digitalization, which continues to accelerate;
  • entrepreneurship, which has reached new highs because innovation can now be put into action by so more people than ever before, rapidly and at massive scale;
  • the Information Age has ushered in the sharing economy, where people tend to consume lots of things as a service that once they’d have bought and owned as a product – for example, using car-sharing and ride hailing instead of the capital outlay and on-going maintenance of a vehicle;
  • the appetite for instant gratification, which has been fed by digital native companies;
  • consumerism – digital native companies build their companies around customers and other companies need to put customers at the heart of what they do to stay in business; and
  • disaggregated and reassembled value and supply chains because of the terrific impact of platform businesses, from Amazon to Uber.

Oh yes – and a share of the $2 trillion digital market telcos enable, identified by The World Economic Forum and analysis by Accenture.


TMF tools


For these reasons, Willetts said, the communications service providers’ goal for 2020 should be to become software-defined telcos. To achieve this, communications service providers should evolve through the stages of digital service provider and digital services enabler, to where the two roles are combined and integrated – see the diagram below.


Put another way, Willetts said we need to shift our thinking about transformation; it’s not a case of digitizing or improving what we do already, it’s a massive change in operations, the business and business models, culture, strategy etc.

Nik cited Oren Harari’s famous quote that, “Edison’s electric light did not come from continuous improvement of the candle”.

He tackled how the Forum helps companies bring about transformation in the second part of his presentation.


About The Author

Snr Director, Research & Media

Annie Turner has been researching and writing about the communications industry since the 1980s, editing magazines dedicated to the subject including titles published by Thomson International and The Economist Group. She has contributed articles to many publications, including national and international newspapers such as the Financial Times and International Herald Tribune, and a multitude of business-to-business titles. She joined the TM Forum in 2010 and is responsible for overseeing the content of the Research and Publications portfolio.

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