May 28, 2019

4 Key Takeaways From Digital Transformation World 2019

According to TM Forum's annual event this year, the industry is looking more aggressively at cloud, automation, customer experience and strategic roadmaps with respect to digital transformation.

Another Digital Transformation World has come and gone, with service providers and technology suppliers descended on Nice, France for networking, technology showcases and a status check on the direction of the industry. Based on the keynotes and catalysts for 2019, several key themes emerged, all of which show an industry that is actually delivering on the promises of transformation and automation.

1. The Next Three Years are Critical for Transformation Roadmaps and Rollouts

As the industry languishes in an interim period between 5G hype and profitable 5G services, the industry is seeing new competition enter the marketplace and create significant disruption. Nowhere is this truer than in Japan with Rakuten entering the market. Creative services, membership and cross-service loyalty have opened the eyes of its Japanese competitors and forced other operators to take notice.

One of the key messages of the keynotes from this year was for operators to get past the hype of 5G and make it real. They need to fix a cost basis of legacy and non-integrated customer experience in order to ensure a strong competitive position over the next 10 years. Because more than 70 percent of 5G offerings require a radical rethink, transformations must be designed around open digital platform strategies that can ultimately accelerate concept-to-cash from 18 months to 18 days.

2. Intelligent Operations Should be Front and Center

As consumers and enterprises move along a trajectory that takes them into a hyper-intelligent world, the impact on telecommunications business operations must evolve at the same pace. Digitization is occurring in virtually every industry and the eventual fusion of human intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI) introduces a platform strategy that should reduce internal friction, accelerate business outcomes and make service and customer targeting more precise. Because the evolving telecommunications digital business is diverse, operators must be ready to support teams that can change course quickly and bring fresh ideas.

At a time when the industry continues to lose billions of dollars per year in paper-based procurement processes that impede business processes, the move to automated operations is paramount to long-term profitability.

3. Cloud-Native IT Will Bring New Levels of Business Agility

For service providers, the shift to cloud-native is a way to overcome the barriers caused by the complexity of legacy IT, OSS/BSS processes and old-school ways of working. Competitive threats are forcing operators to innovate, reduce time-to-market and deliver a contextual digital experience. This introduces the need for new operating models both in the front and back office. The shift to cloud-native not only redirects the way that applications are created and deployed but shifts IT to a newly malleable structure that can operate in public and private clouds.

Service providers are recognizing that any transformation requires a strategic evolution that enables them to build and operate cloud-native applications and services that facilitate the concepts of DevOps, microservices and continuous delivery. While the industry may still be in nascent stages here, the roadmap and ultimate benefits are already clearly visible.

4. Will Online Gaming be the First True Consumer Killer App for 5G?

The industry is struggling to identify the “killer app” that will amortize ongoing investments in 5G, yet there is one consumer service area could potentially create a service windfall. Today, the gaming industry is a $150 billion market and it will soon become the largest part of the media and entertainment industry. With 50 percent of the gaming market already in the mobile space, the eventual future of connectivity for most games will likely increase this share. One critical aspect of gaming is quality of service; gaming doesn’t allow for buffering, as it can destroy the consistency of experience. Thus, guaranteed bandwidth must be in place to ensure that gaming sessions are consistent.

As more complex gaming moves to digital streaming, 5G networks will bring real cloud-based gaming to the market and mobile edge computing will help provide an extra guarantee around the experience.

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