Deutsche Telekom employees must understand the company's adopted common standards so they don't get left behind as it digitally transforms. Enter TM Forum Frameworx training...
Deutsche Telekom uses training to improve partnering
Comprehensive TM Forum training into components of the Forum's Open Digital Framework (ODF) is helping Deutsche Telekom (DT) transform digitally. Europe's largest communications service provider (CSP) is training relevant employees to understand TM Forum's Frameworx and Open API's, after recognizing that to create successful partnerships, all stakeholders need a common understanding and language for processes, data and applications.
DT’s IT department is on the path to transforming into a more Agile organization made up of small teams working on products, rather than a traditional, hierarchical IT organization. The graphic below explains the key principles of Agile methodology. DT’s IT landscape is made up mostly of applications purchased as standard products and homegrown systems. In the past, these applications were connected via proprietary interfaces (point-to-point/multi-point). However, the company now is seeking to “decouple and integrate” by implementing an integration pattern using TM Forum Open APIs and underlying microservices.
“The IT architecture transformation is a major goal within our pillar – ‘simplify, digitalize, accelerate’ – and should enable a tremendous reduction of time to market,” says Thomas Brunk, Enterprise Architect, DT. “A simplified and Agile IT architecture is an important facilitator for all strategic business goals and is an explicit part of the DT strategy.”
To achieve this simplified architecture, it’s vital for everyone involved to not only understand the framework components DT uses, but also why and how these components can help the company reach its agility goal, he adds.
DT believes its participation in digital ecosystems will become increasingly important, so at the beginning of 2018 the IT team began using TM Forum’s Open Digital Framework, which includes the Frameworx suite of standards-based tools and best practices, rather than its own models to define its architecture. Frameworx consists of three well-defined models that have been developed collaboratively over many years: By using these tools along with the Open APIs, DT can reuse components and participate in international ecosystems, integrating and interoperating with partners and vendors that also use Frameworx. DT partnered with TM Forum to train its staff on how to use the frameworks and Open APIs. In short phases, various trainers worked with the Forum to deliver 19 days of virtual training over eight weeks to 100 people within DT IT. Brunk and Vera Decker-Conradi, Enterprise Architect, DT, played crucial roles in the training project. Brunk, who serves as DT’s ambassador to TM Forum, initiated the project, while Decker-Conradi led the strategic operations (timing, status of employees, etc.). This is one of the largest onsite training programs TM Forum has delivered to a member company, and while expectations ran high, so did the challenges.
Around 90% of the employees chosen for the training were systems architects working in different roles and from different backgrounds. They needed to understand how the Open APIs could be used to increase agility for their teams. Some business analysts also attended the training to understand the requirements from a business perspective as well as a few systems engineers.
“The major difficulty was that although mostly everyone was an architect, they were quite a diverse group of people – different kinds of architects,” Decker-Conradi says. “There were hands-on architects, solution architects, architects that were more enterprise-focused and some who weren’t technology focused at all.”
She adds: “Particularly for the API training, expectations were wildly diverse. On one end of the spectrum, some wanted to get hands-on as soon as possible, and really get stuck into the code. On the other end of the spectrum, there were those who were more interested in how to design a business-driven API model.” “All these courses start with the very fundamental core Frameworx components, and then go into the API work,” Brunk explains, adding that the standard TM Forum training content did not need to be tailored specifically for DT, enabling interoperability for the company’s partners who may have gone through similar training.
Feedback about the training has been positive. “Most of the people mention that it was very helpful to understand the concept behind an architecture framework. Why should I have such one? What it is used for? How can I adopt these?” Brunk explains.
“We got feedback from a colleague who works in a big transformation project,” he adds. “He wrote an email saying that he had learned so much, and that he will check if they can get this training for their project where they are building REST APIs for billing.”
While the training was consistent for all participants, Brunk stated that the benefits for each trainee were unique to their roles. What the majority of trainees appreciated most was the context that the training gave them. Culturally, this kind of context also plays a huge part in the ‘people’ side of digital transformation, serving to onboard relevant employees into DT’s burgeoning Agile approach to operations. DT’s Frameworx team is now working with the various business departments within the company to ensure the frameworks are put into action following the training and will be used within projects in the right way.