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Home | New Service Delivery | TM Forum, Martin Creaner - Preparations for Nice
  Martin Creaner, President and CTO, the TM Forum
  Martin Creaner, President and CTO, the TM Forum.

Preparations for Nice

Martin Creaner, the TM Forum’s president talks to InterComms about how growth in the Forum’s activities and membership are being reflected at TeleManagement World now and other events around the world

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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 TM Forum. Prior to joining the TM 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 are things going at the TM Forum?
A: Things are going really well in the TM Forum. We have just had the most successful year ever, and while we maintain a ‘weather-eye’ to what is clearly going to be a difficult year ahead, we are very well positioned for the coming year. We are in the run up to our Management World event in Nice, which obviously dominates minds as it has become the de facto event for the industry. In addition to that, we are also very much absorbed with a range of other interesting collaborative initiatives which are being driven by the board.

Q: Relating to Nice.
A: The keynote session in Nice should be the best line up of key notes we have ever had. We are delighted to have speakers of the calibre of Sanjiv Ahuja who is the ex-chairman of the Orange Group and is now with a new venture business called Augere. We have Werner Vogels who is the CTO of Amazon. It will be particularly interesting to get a view from someone who has made their money out of clever management of the supply chain. We also have Matt Bross, CEO BT Innovate & BT Group CTO, Kevin Peter who is the Executive VP of AT&T, Rory Sutherland the vice Chairman of the advertising group Ogilvy. In addition to these keynote draws, we also have Simon Wright, CEO of Virgin Entertainment Group and Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi, Chairman & CEO, 2020 Venture Partners and previously the CTO of AT&T. The speakers will be sharing their views on the overall state of the market and specifically about the operational and business challenges of service transformation, which is really the theme of the whole show.

Q: How will Nice address the economic problems members are suffering at the moment?
A: The title of the show is ‘Strategies & Tactics for tough times,’ which is very appropriate. Survival in tough times is not just about huge cost cutting, although that has to be an element of it. But real success comes from a balance of growing yourself out of tough times while cutting yourself out of tough times. There is no long term business model for savage cuts in this industry. I recently heard a quote by Winston Churchill where he said that trying to cut yourself out of a recession is like trying to lift up a bucket while you are standing in it. You are working against yourself.

Q: What about continuing activities regarding the continued evolution of the Forum’s ‘staples’?
A: We have got our ongoing work surrounding the content value chain and how you knit that value chain together. There is a Content Encounter showcase where we are showing the art of the possible, relating to how you pull together the value chain and identify the real challenges. We have been focusing on identifying a few of the points of friction in the value chain. The Content Encounter highlights how you pull this all together. Specifically, we are looking at the market data model of how you take content from thousands of different content providers and feed it into thousands of different service providers in a consistent fashion. Also how you standardise data structures and how you standardise some of the payment and settlement charging mechanisms across value chains that increasingly are running on revenue share models. The other area looks at how to manage customer issues and service quality management across the value chain.

We have also spent a lot of effort over the last nine months evolving our core business process and information models (the eTOM and SID) towards SOA. These models have almost universal adoption across the industry. This will also allow us to prepare for the launch of an initiative on cloud computing later in the year, which is very dependent on SOA. We have also got an increasing amount of work in the area of revenue assurance and revenue management and that is becoming a very mature activity within the TM Forum.

Q: What about new departures?
A: We have begun working on the implications of 4G mobile/ Long Term Evolution (LTE), which seems to be the key to pulling together the mobile world. 3G was supposed to pull everything together into single global UMTS standard but that never happened. It seems however that LTE is actually going to achieve that, so we need to know the management challenges of LTE: what business models are opened up by it and how you handle some of the main operational issues? The fact is that LTE is potentially going to be offering 100Mbps to the handset drives a huge increase in backhaul. How do you manage that and how do you run it in such a way that it is still going to be profitable for the players that don’t own their own backhaul network?

Q: How is the Forum’s membership continuing to evolve?
A: The membership of the Forum has now grown to about 750 member companies, in about 75 different countries and it is continuing to grow by about 15-20 percent per annum. I can’t imagine that membership will grow that fast in the coming financial year but it has definitely been the trend we’ve seen for the past three to four years.

The TM Forum has gown into three new and separate sectors over the last few years; one is defence, one is the cable and one is content and media. We are beginning to get some real attention with those different sectors at the moment.

Q: You have given the Defence sector a high billing at this year’s Nice, not an area traditionally associated with the TM Forum. What is happening there?
A: One of the areas where we have seen a lot of growth has been the defence sector. I spent a few days in Washington where the TM Forum organised a large workshop, involving the DoD and their suppliers, many of whom already happened to be TM Forum members such as Cisco, Netcracker and Juniper. There were also a lot of other participants who wouldn’t normally consider joining the TM Forum but who are now interested due to our defence initiatives. There is already widespread usage of the TM Forum standard amongst the whole defence community.

We are setting up a bespoke team for defence and there is defence-led catalyst that will be showcased at Nice. This is going to be using the exact same sort of technology as other Forum catalysts but it is talking a very different language in term of deployment environments (i.e. aircraft carriers and so on.)

Q: What have been your key take-always from the Washington workshop?
A: Firstly, was the high level of current usage of TM Forum standards and the sophistication of usage. That really struck me. I had a somewhat prejudiced view that the defence industry was considering using things like the eTOM and the SID when in fact, they have been using it in anger for several years now. Some of the implementations that were being talked about were at least as advanced as anything I’ve seen across the traditional telco world. The second thing that struck me was that they see the world in a very different way and have different sets of priorities. The scale of spending is enormous and it seems to move on a different cycle to the rest of the world economy. I think that is going to be a very attractive area for a lot of our existing members because there is hunger for the type of solutions and technologies that our members already offer. The problems they face are almost identical to any large telco in terms of their desire to offer comprehensive, well managed services to their customer base in flexible ways.

Q: What does the drive to IPv6 mean for the TM Forum?
A: IPv6 crops up on a range of different activities that we get involved with. If I look at lot of our catalysts, a number of them will be implemented using IPv6. The need for it is hugely important and from a management point of view, particularly from a value chain and device management point of view, it has started to become in huge demand by industry because of a proliferation of devices and the way that consumer devices are turning into internet ready devices. In terms of management challenges of IPv6, I am not sure it changes things for the TM Forum because we are really at the layer above that in terms of the management of the services that people want to offer as opposed to the core IPv6 internet layer. We do manage the transport layer but it is really when you get up to the applications layer and the service layer above that we just expect IPv6 to work.

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