InterComms :: International Communications Project
  Intercomms Issue 23

TM Forum logoManaging Future Changes

Carl Piva, VP Strategic Programs, TM Forum, talks to InterComms

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Carl Piva, VP Strategic Programs, TM Forum
Carl Piva
VP Strategic Programs, TM Forum

Carl Piva is serving as VP Strategic Programs at TM Forum. Carl is passionate about market and technology disruptions, and about helping TM Forum's members to transform into successful digital service providers in the emerging digital economy.

Q: Can you give me an overview of TM Forum’s three strategic programs and why you chose these programs as a future path for the Forum?
A: Absolutely. In 2013, the Forum set out a new strategic plan with the goal of helping our member companies continuously transform to be successful in the digital world. We want to enable the rapid emergence of a vibrant, open digital ecosystem to both innovate and overcome common business and operational management challenges. To deliver on this goal, we launched three core strategic programs.

The first one, Agile Business & IT, aims to bring agility into all aspects of how we run our business and identify what the new operating model looks like in our increasingly virtualized world. The second program, Customer Engagement, is all about putting customers at the center of our universe and how to apply innovative new technologies to better understand and serve them. The third program, Open Digital, which includes the Internet of Things, aims to equip the different actors in the digital ecosystem with the required assets and know-how to engage and partner with each other reliably, quickly and easily.

Q: What does it mean to be an agile business and why is it important to the Forum and its 950+ members?
A: While a core principle of digital innovation and operations is simplicity, the ecosystem itself is only becoming more complex. This being said, becoming an agile business is first and foremost about serving customers with speed and efficiency while adapting to their changing needs and requirements. And, doing so at the right cost point.

To support this agility, the Forum has, over the years and with our diverse members, developed a rich asset base of best practices and standards we have packaged into TM Forum Frameworx. Many of your readers, I am sure, are aware of the Business Process Framework (eTOM), the Information Framework (SID) and the Application Framework (TAM).

We did a survey a while back that revealed that the three key observable benefits of deploying Frameworx are simplification of IT architecture, clarity of understanding between project members, and standardization of data within the organization. A large number of service providers report savings of hundreds of millions of dollars by deploying Frameworx. For example, China Mobile’s largest subsidiary GuangDong Mobile expects $3.3 million in CapEx savings as a result of a broader digital transformation effort that included the use of Frameworx.

Furthermore, we all know that the market isn’t standing still. We are now at the beginning of a new era where the digital transformation is completely changing the answer to the question: “What does great look like?” For this reason we have launched an ambitious Zero-touch Orchestration and Operations Management program that we call ZOOM. The purpose of this program is to create a living blueprint designed for the virtualized world. We have a broad community with more than 100 member companies participating or taking part in this effort.

Q: As service providers transform to become agile digital businesses and deliver digital service offerings, what challenges are they facing and how is the Forum aiming to help?
A: In addition to developing the assets and best practices, we also aim to speed up this transformation to digital. As a result, we have launched a series of invitation-only Digital Leadership Summits, an exclusive program for technology and business leaders focusing on the challenges of digital business transformation. The first Summit was conducted on September 11, 2014 in Mumbai and attracted 90 senior executives from more than 75 percent of the Indian service provider marketplace, including six CIOs.

We debated what needed to change around the board table, which topics require our focus and leadership alignment when transforming to digital, and also the details of what the transformation journey looks like. As an example, it became clear that customer centricity, supply chain innovation and cultural transformation are some of the key topics the leadership team needs to align around to be successful.

Q: Virtualized operations is a really big concern for service providers today. What is the Forum doing to help its members get a handle on understanding the challenges and navigating the complex journey toward a virtualized operations environment?
A: I mentioned the ZOOM program which is our response to this critical requirement. In this program, the Forum and its members are collaborating to deliver on four key themes leading up to our flagship TM Forum Live! Digital Disruption conference being held in San Jose this December. For each of these themes, we will deliver best practice guides, blueprints and virtualization-ready Frameworx enhancements. The key themes we are focused on are developing a DevOps transformation framework for the digital ecosystem, a blueprint for end-to-end management of services across multiple providers, and operations and procurement readiness guidance (for example, how to procure virtualized solutions).

The DevOps transformation framework is targeting the transition from NetOps/SysOps to a more IT-inspired DevOps approach and the benefits that this transition affords to service providers. Agility and continuous deployment are key topics in this work.

By developing a blueprint for end-to-end management of hybrid services across administrative boundaries, the team is drawing experience from a number of our Catalyst rapid-prototyping projects that were run at TM Forum Live! Nice in June 2014. These projects are addressing some of the out-of-scope management areas of ETSI MANO and building on this work and that of other collaborative efforts in this space.

The operations and procurement readiness theme is addressing the questions: “How do I buy a virtualized solution?” and “How can I determine which changes are necessary to reap the benefits of increased agility?”

Q: Customer engagement and big data analytics are another key area for your members, especially as they begin to implement omnichannel customer experience. How can providers overcome the organizational and process changes needed for omnichannel?
A: You are right; these are key areas for our members and for us, and we are working on several interesting projects that will be coming out in the next few months. Omnichannel is definitely important in all markets, as are concepts such as Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and understanding the customer journey across touch-points with organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Omnichannel and improving NPS must start with taking a hard look at the organization and the silos that typically stand in the way. The discussion should start in the boardroom. Digital approaches should play a big role, especially learning from digital and social on how these things should be designed going into the next phase of the digital revolution. Once the approach is identified, I personally think you need to lead from the top and let the cultural changes happen when people start noticing improvements in customer service and how positive customers find the changes to be. Customer centricity is today characterized by a “five 9s” approach driven by anecdotal data, while the desired position is to move to a customer-centric mindset with data analytics driving better decisions and outcomes. Looking broadly, I believe the service provider community has a lot to learn from the digital native companies out there. Some of these companies are obsessed with their customers and unreasonably aspirational.

Q: With Digital Disruption in San Jose right around the corner, what will you be highlighting at the event and why should our readers attend?
A: At Digital Disruption, we will focus on the three strategic programs we have been speaking about earlier. Why? Because they are THE key challenges to get right in order to succeed in the digital ecosystem. We are bringing together the best and brightest in the industry on these topics so that delegates can learn, collaborate, network, and also have fun. I hope to see you there!

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