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Issue 20 Articles

TMForum logo TM Forum Helps Industry Navigate the Digital Storm at Management World 2013

InterComms talks to Keith Willetts, Chairman, TM Forum, about the changing communications value chain and what to expect at the organisation’s flagship conference and expo in May in Nice, France

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Keith Willetts, Chairman, TM Forum
Keith Willetts, Chairman, TM Forum

Keith Willetts is chairman of the TM Forum, a global non-profit association focused on enabling service provider agility and innovation. As he heads to Management World 2013 in Nice, France, May 13-16, he talked with InterComms about the changing communications value chain, how TM Forum is adapting to meet the changes, and what to expect at the organisation’s flagship conference and expo.

Q: How is the communications industry changing and what is TM Forum’s role in this change?
A: According to a recent Ovum report, approximately US$ 32.5bn disappeared from the industry last year and, while that may not have an enormous immediate impact in this trillion dollar industry, it can’t go on indefinitely. We’re seeing revenues go up as traffic increases, but margins come down as profitability wanes. Continuing to reduce operational costs by driving efficiency remains a priority, but service providers are looking for ways to provide a better customer experience, improve loyalty and engagement, and introduce new services and find new ways of engagement.

TM Forum’s role is to facilitate this transition. For example, we are helping service providers with continuous cost reduction and market share improvement by providing them with tools like our Customer Experience Guidebook which outlines key principles in implementing CEM programs. We also have a new CEM Index that defines the KPIs that service providers should be constantly evaluating to understand if their investments in CEM are paying off. And our new CEM Maturity Model helps service providers understand and evaluate their programs.

We’re also helping in the new services arena through our Digital Services Initiative which delivers best practices and practical tools that help businesses effectively deliver enterprise-grade digital services in complex, multi-cloud environments. Of course, this focus also carries through to our conferences and events like Management World coming up in Nice.

Q: What is new for Management World 2013 this year?
A: Because partnerships, agility, customer experience and continuous cost reduction are key themes for the industry right now, we are focusing on them in Nice. We are also looking at security, privacy and authentication and data analytics and revenue assurance. In fact, we have dedicated Forums focusing on each of those topics and more.

What’s unique about this year’s Management World is that we’re addressing all these challenges, but not in our traditional way of bringing a bunch of operators together. Instead, we are upping our game by featuring Forums focused on the challenges service providers are facing, and by bringing in the absolute best topic-specific experts to the conference.

Plus, alongside the main conference, we are featuring MasterClass seminars – deep dive sessions on topics like product lifecycle management, additional training programs and our Platinum Program for executives.

A big difference this year is we are bringing in topic-specific experts—from major end users, cloud-based players like Rackspace, and disrupters like BitTorrent—to take an all-encompassing view at the digital services ecosystem from outside the telecom industry.

Q: What are some of the highlights that should not be missed?
A: First off, Our Keynote Perspectives program takes a 360 degree vision of the telecoms ecosystem. Gervais Pellisier, the CEO delegate of France Telecom-Orange is one of our featured keynote speakers alongside other visionaries from outside the telecoms sector, including: Steven Shurrock, the global chief commercial officer of Telefónica Digital, Eric Klinker, the chief executive of BitTorrent, Michael Harte, the CIO of Commonwealth Bank, Hallie Harenski, the CMO of AIG, and Steve Mills, the CIO of Rackspace—all are among the 50 C-level experts speaking in Nice.

Another unique aspect of all of our Management World conferences is the hugely popular Catalysts: Rapid Technology Innovation Projects highlighted on the expo floor in The Hub. The Hub is the place to see TM Forum in action and features multiple zones that are not only tied back to the conference themes, but also tied back to the work TM Forum is doing. It’s the heart of the conference and the place to engage with us and our members.

Q: What will be some key take-aways from Nice?
A: All sides in the digital value chain are realizing they can’t rely on service providers to continue to shift bits, and we’ll talk about that, but also on the agenda at Management World, our panels and eight Forums will cover issues such as customer experience management, big data analytics, enabling enterprise cloud, M2M and digital services, cyber security, revenue management and cable.

Big industry in the digital economy needs to speak to service providers, and service providers, for their part, are moving on from trying to do everything themselves. The key for both sides is to extract value by giving value. However, the operational complexity of even one service delivered at scale is enormous. Very quickly service providers find themselves into a sophisticated scenario, and that’s the kind of challenge we’re trying to anticipate, so TM Forum can educate and enable the move to a more sophisticated market where quality matters.

Q: How can people continue to engage with TM Forum and benefit from the thought leadership and approaches you’re developing after Management World is over?
A: You’re right, it doesn’t end there. TM Forum is increasing the number of ways people can engage with us. For example, we launched our Digital Services Channel, Business Channel and IT Channel late last year where people can follow the digital economy conversation. We’re also upping the game in terms of thought leadership, and you will see far more from us—not only from people that work for us, but also from external thought leaders in adjacent sectors through blogs, video interviews from industry leaders at our sessions in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress, for example, and as speakers at our conferences and summits.

In addition to our Management World, we are increasing our outreach through seminars and smaller, pop-up events for a particular operator or a group of people in a specific city—like our smash hit Big Data Analytics Summit we held in January, and our standing-room only sessions on business transformation for mobile operators at Mobile World Congress.

Plus, at Management World we’re introducing deep-dive workshops that will increase the range of engagement vehicles available to our members. Called TM Forum’s MasterClass Series, these interactive sessions are led by industry gurus who encourage interaction and discussion, so that our members take away ideas, inspiration and connections.

Q: What is ahead for the rest of 2013 for TM Forum?
A: Going forward in 2013, we are focusing heavily on our Digital Services Initiative in order further our mission to create a vibrant and open digital economy.

Already we established an Open Digital Economy Group, which is made up of many of the world’s largest global companies, including Accenture, China Mobile, France Telecom-Orange, IBM, Microsoft Corp., Oracle, Telecom Italia, Telefónica Digital and Telstra, to set the pace with two intensive workshops and goals to produce a lot in the next 90 days to benefit our members, including: a partnering model guidebook, a reference digital services architecture, and a set of major APIs and processes for digital service delivery. So stay tuned and hope to see you in Nice.

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