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Home | New Service Delivery | TM Forum, Martin Creaner
  Martin Creaner, President and CTO, The TeleManagement Forum
  Martin Creaner, President and CTO, The TeleManagement Forum
Orlando’s bloom

Martin Creaner, the TM Forum’s president talks to Intercomms about the Forum’s expanding remit at Management World Orlando

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Martin Creaner has been working and advising in the Communications Industry for 18 years and is presently President and Chief Technical Officer of the TeleManagement Forum. Prior to joining the TeleManagement Forum, Martin held a number of executive positions with BT, the major UK based European Communications Service Provider, and with Motorola, the global Wireless Networks Equipment manufacturer, where Martin led the 2.5G and 3G OSS solutions development activities.  Martin sits on the board of a number of telecoms companies, and is the Chairman of Selatra Ltd., which is a java games applications service provider for the mobile marketplace.

Martin is an accomplished speaker and regularly is asked to chair or give keynote talks at leading telecommunication industry events.

Q: How does Orlando differ from other events?
A: For years, the US event has been the little brother of Nice. This year, we decided that we would try and take a different tack and focus on some of the newer initiatives we are going after. So we have split the event into three separate summits, which are each focused on very different things. One we have called our Transformation Summit, which covers a lot of the ground you would expect at a TMF event. It will address how telcos are transforming themselves, best practice in operation and utilising things like the eTOM and SID to achieve IT transformation. That will be very familiar to all of our audience.

There are also two other summits, which I would expect to be slightly smaller. At this point last year, we brought the GBA into the TM Forum and we became the place where all of the standardisation in the BSS world was taking place as well as the place. where So our second summit at Orlando, is focused on the whole challenge of revenue management and customer experience. The third summit we have put in place is focused on the areas where the TM Forum has been expanding itself over the last two years – namely Digital Commerce and Advertising. This summit is looking at the real challenges of trying to make money in the converging service value chain that everyone is talking about. We have speakers from a wide range of companies such as Google and Yahoo and companies like Blyk, who would never have spoken at a TM Forum event before.

Q: Why are you focusing on advertising?
A: The TM Forum is focusing on this area, not out of whim, but because there is convergence happening throughout the industry. Lots of companies, like Ogilvy who joined the TM Forum board just a few months ago, are advertising agencies. They have nothing to do with telecoms but they can see the linkages starting to appear. We have had lots of activities in our Content Encounter, working with Disney, Paramount as well as lots of lesser known content aggregators. The reason why these companies are coming to the TM Forum is that they can see that there is a convergence taking place, and can see that there is money to be made. They want to learn from best practice.

Q: What about Catalysts?
A: Catalysts are proof of concept demonstrations, specified by Service Providers and implemented by Vendors that are showcased on the showfloor at the event. What we have tried to do this year in Orlando is to raise the bar even higher, so there are much tighter linkages between the catalyst programme and the overall structure of the event.
We also have our Content Encounter programme, which is going into its third phase in Orlando. Content Encounter is a solution showcase that links tightly to our digital commerce and advertising summit. It shows the art of the possible in this converging value chain; what you can do with existing capabilities in terms of ingesting content and feeding it into a whole range of delivery mechanisms. The second Content Encounter was hugely well received in Nice 2008 and we have continued to grow it, doubling it’s size again with about 20 companies participating in it for Orlando 2008.

Q: What’s the role of the new Large Scale Buyers Council?
A: For years, the TM Forum has been very interested in trying to understand the needs of the service provider’s biggest customers. Large customers such as government agencies, major enterprises and banking institutions who would never have been members of the TM Forum in the past. However, we have now had a few of those companies joining the TM Forum and are looking at how the TM Forum could help. About twelve months ago, the UK government approached us about using TM Forum standards to build a framework for procurement of all of their telecoms and communications services. They are an enormous procurer of communications services, many billions of dollars per annum. That evolved into a discussion beyond joining the TM Forum. We agreed that it could be far more sensible to also use the TM Forum to open a dialogue between other large suppliers and other large buyers to see if there is a consistency of requirements, across a range of large buyers.

Q: How does this help suppliers?
A: What suppliers in the industry desperately want is consistent requirements; being asked for the same thing by many different customers. When this happens they have the confidence to invest in developing this product. The large scale buyers council is about trying to create a table, around which some of the large enterprises can sit and talk about how they would commonly use TM Forum standards to aid them in more effective procurement. This would also allow the suppliers to, from time to time, sit around the same table to discuss the sensible requirements to ask for.

Q: Who is the lead in this?
A: The UK government has joined the TM Forum in order to do this and is acting as the core of this Large Scale Buyers Group and there will be other larger enterprises joining. Almost in parallel to this, we have had number of approaches from large scale defence procurers. They would either be entities like the US Department of Defense or the UK Ministry of Defence or suppliers to those agencies. The common question is how do we take TM Forum standards and use them to build a common approach and language of procurement.

Q: How is your work with the ITU-T progressing?
A: Over the last few years we have been getting a number of TM Forum standards adopted by the ITU-T. We started with the eTOM some years ago. Then we got our MTNM standards adopted by the ITU-T. In the last few weeks we’ve had our SID model adopted too. That is a hugely important success. The ETOM and the SID are part of the core framework of the TM Forum. Everything we do builds on top of those. To have that framework gold plated by being made an ITU-T standard just reinforces the strength of them. ITU-T is the de jure standard body and particularly if you look at emerging markets, the ITU-T standards are hugely important.

Q: How does the ITU-T adopt updates of these standards?
A: The ITU-T doesn’t have a working team making changes to the eTOM standard for example. The working team sits within the TM Forum and as and when we submit updates for our new version for approval, there is an approval process that goes on inside the ITU-T. It is however a very rapid one, because there is no diverging from the standard. Anyone who wants the latest version of the eTOM, comes to the TM Forum website but the latest version, that been approved by the ITU-T is only about six months around the corner.

Q: Is there further work with the ITU-T planned?
A: I suspect the other key areas are going to be around specific interfaces that we have approved such as the ones that have come out of our Prosspero programme.

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