Digital communication providers are rapidly evolving from traditional telcos. Multi-partner business models emerge, which require the company to orchestrate extensive ecosystems to enable growth and to achieve simplification for their customers. New-generation communication solutions are increasingly created in collaborative ways, such as through TM Forum’s Catalyst program, where TM Forum serves as a collaboration hub bringing together operators, vendors and subject matter experts to powerfully combine R&D endeavors.
Market pressures force companies to quickly release minimum viable products (MVPs). Non-functioning products, non-compliance with privacy and security requirements, and unprofitable behavior may result from time constraints and complexity.
Transformation into a successful digital communication provider demands systematic incorporation of assurance in the product development and delivery of services. This will result in sustainable growth and happy customers for ecosystem participants. With this goal, TM Forum has launched the “trust initiative” to consistently embed the assurance discipline in TM Forum’s development programs.
Trust is good but control is better
Lenin once said, “Trust is good but control is better”.
Many years back when I worked as an auditor, I regularly applied this phrase while scrutinizing control evidences. Being on the other side nowadays, I am accountable for establishing policies and business rules. In other words, I have to implement and oversee assurance processes and convince people to set up and operate controls. Constant change and ecosystem complexity are the new continuum which also demand a mind shift from assurance people.
If they really care, they proactively approach commercial and development functions in a culturally acceptable way for them, building mutual trust through a common striving to achieve wider objectives such as enabling growth and securing customer satisfaction.
Trust enables reproduction
It is obvious that successful digital service providers need to increase their collaboration levels because a lone wolf approach won’t be sufficient anymore to meet the communication needs of contemporary customers. In the past and the present, some political leaders have built walls to protect one side from the other. Not even transparent walls, or any form of curtain, have ever addressed a problem’s root causes. Walls may have provided protection for some but they have definitely not built trust.
Recently, I read some research which indicated that high walls can be problematic for certain butterfly populations. Caterpillars live in a local spot, they creep, climb and eat to finally transform into beautiful butterflies. Butterflies explore the world before they go back to their old places to reproduce. Reproduction is one of the most essential rules of life, and it is equally essential for business: If innovative people face a wall, no-one is likely to contribute. If there was a collaboration hub instead, people would feel trust. They would eagerly engage and repeatedly solve problems.
How to become a helping hand
In a recent article I envisioned how assurance functions should engage with the company’s stars in product development & commercial processes (symbolized as Usain Bolt) to provide timely support with their specialist knowledge and to embed control where needed.
The article was concluded with the following words: “Bolt is a star, Bolt is a brand, Bolt is a source of inspiration. He gives meaning to the lives of many. Risk and assurance functions are none of that. We are not in the spotlight and we should also not imitate Bolt or Ronaldo.
Instead, we should increasingly focus on supporting our winners, the people who create business, the people who realize our customer’s needs, wishes and dreams. We can work in the background, identify and resolve complex problems early as ‘invisible helping hands’.”
Evolution through collaboration and trust
Sometimes, people ask me why I am using part of my free time for unpaid work in professional forums. My answer is always the same “It is a passion, it’s about sharing and learning from others while building a trusted network with people who have similar motivations and attitudes”. We have a common community interest as we all want to help our companies successfully transform and reproduce.
In other words, we trust that together it makes far more sense to solve complex problems instead of re-inventing the wheel. Community members passionately live this way through active sharing of experience and ideas, guiding others and applying the newest best practices and freshest insights in their companies. Because winners share it all!