October 30, 2023

Telus and du Describe the Challenge of Building Platforms and Changing Telco Culture

During DTW23 - Ignite, Telus’ Hesham Fahmy and du’s Jamal Najem joined Netcracker President Sylvain Seignour to share how they are transforming their businesses to compete in the digital-first era.

Just weeks before it gathered the telco industry together for its annual Digital Transformation World (DTW) event, TM Forum issued a 'code red' to the community.

TM Forum's CEO Nik Willetts reminded telco executives of the need to transform their collective mindset in order to flourish in a digital-first future. 

He warned: “We’ve reached a strategic breakpoint. We’re calling ‘code red’ on the global telecoms sector. Our industry’s investment – some $1 trillion in the last five years – has delivered 0.9 percent growth. This is simply not sustainable. We must face some uncomfortable truths and address them at speed."

However, Willetts expressed confidence that industry leaders will meet the challenge. He believes they can "fundamentally rethink their operating models, partner to deliver solutions not technologies and adopt firm positions in new value ecosystems. Critical to delivering this will be simplifying, modernizing and automating how we as an industry do business.”

He's right to be optimistic. In a session titled Drivers for telco evolution: Why and how to make the techco journey?,Hesham Fahmy, CIO of Telus, and Jamal Najem, Chief Transformation Officer at du, both  years into their digital transformation journeys, shared their insights with Sylvain Seignour, President of Netcracker.

In his presentation, Fahmy told the audience that he agreed entirely with TM Forum's code red sentiments. "They're advocating that telcos de-layer themselves and become platform companies. Well, it's what we've been doing for the last 10 years... We are now active in healthcare, agriculture, home automation... We have gone from being a connectivity provider to truly being an end to end solution creator."

Fahmy said Telus’ ambitious transformation was built on four pillars:

  1. Building a modular and reusable platform built on APIs by working with partners like Netcracker to reach a point where nearly 60 percent of the workload is running cloud-native.
  2. Focusing on developer experience by investing in teams that build toolsets to make the 'path to production' very easy for developers. 
  3. Investing in talent by aiming is to recruit people that embrace a customer-first digital mindset.
  4. Changing the culture by fostering a culture "with a bias for action, moving fast and taking risks."

In her talk, Jamal Najem reminded the audience of the danger CSPs face by standing still in such a dynamic commercial environment. She quoted the examples of Blockbuster, Blackberry and MySpace, concluding that “history shows that companies that don't innovate, well, you don't see them around today.”

Like Telus, du is also many years into its digital transformation journey – a journey Najem is personally responsible for. And Najem argued that success absolutely centers on mindset. "You have to start with a vision," she said. "It has to be company-wide, and it has to start from the top. The questions must be: Who are we? What do we want to be? And how are we going to get there?"

Najem also outlined the relentless nature of competition, not just from other telcos, but from the digital giants that are defining customer expectations in the current era. Looking back at recent history, she stated that, "you can never stop. The minute you blink, Steve Jobs is standing on stage and the world is a different place."

Of course, the speakers each emphasized the need for partnerships as they reinvent themselves from connectivity suppliers to platform solutions providers, and both are working closely with Netcracker to achieve their ambitious goals.

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