September 12, 2019

The Complex Role of the CTIO

As we see consolidation in the C-suite, how are companies able to ensure support for traditional lines of business while gearing up for new services?

Many CSPs have converged the roles of CTO and CIO and coalesced their teams in a move to reflect the increasing convergence of network and IT functions as part of the digital transformation drive. But with many CSPs running a two-speed approach to digital transformation, it begs the questions as to the logical timing and positive impact of making the move at the right time, ensuring proper support of the traditional core business alongside newer business areas. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of the CTIO movement and how it’s impacting the day-to-day challenges of the back office. 

The previous demarcation between the CTO and CIO roles was a reasonably clear. The CIO’s role was to manage all IT systems within the company, and the CTO was responsible for network operations and planning. However, it appears that the CTIO role is not just a merger of these two responsibilities but now is even greater than the sum of its parts. Along with the change in title comes one of the most formidable obstacles in telecom: cultural change. The new department and its boss are expected to shoulder the majority of the responsibility to transform traditional telcos into 21st century digital service providers.

The Challenge of Developing a Clear and Unified 5G Digital Strategy

The original motivation for the unification of network and IT strategies was the requirement to meet growing demand for capacity and data, while also ensuring the rapid rollout of new services and capabilities. As it comes online, 5G will need a different underlying core and backhaul network than LTE did at the same stage of its lifecycle. Simply supercharging the RAN is just a piece part of the 5G era as programmability in the network will unlock the next wave of 5G digital services that are enabled by virtualized network capabilities. 

This strategy is central to the CTIO mindset that all of the technology deployments in 5G or SDN/NFV are just pieces of a bigger picture for future operations. 

Network Complexity Becomes a Bottleneck 

One of the main reasons that the task ahead is bigger than first thought is that the CTIO’s office hopes to fundamentally change the way the company operates and improve the relationships with suppliers and partners. Increased collaboration in the industry is seeing great traction as opposed to building in isolation and then spending time and resources integrating systems.  

The cost of 5G is catalyzing inter-operator collaborations, where typically one would have previously seen a competitive roadblock. The tendency in the past has been for service providers to forge on alone and often end up with proprietary systems and methodologies, with little overarching strategy. Many CTIOs are adopting the attitude that if they do this in the 5G age the spiraling costs will cause major industry-wide issues regarding potential profits. 

Progressive vendors like Netcracker have a larger part to play in the operational picture than ever before due to their vast network of operator customers as well as their ability to influence best practice and technology preference. As such, the modularization of large vendor software suites like Netcracker 12, which use a common software foundation, is imposing a standardization level onto CSPs that will actually help them achieve success faster as the industry adopts 5G and beyond. 



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