The Great Telco Debate 2016, a status report on the digital telco

Written by on November 8, 2016 in Opinion with 0 Comments
geralt / pixabay

geralt / pixabay

The motion that a ‘telco is irrelevant in the IoT’ was squashed by the majority of attendees at the Great Telco Debate a year ago.

It was as if someone had turned the lights up. The relief was palpable.

The same motion, in 2014, would have been passed, without doubt.

During the year leading up to the 2015 event, the outlook had been pretty gloomy for telcos. They were, we thought, too stuck in their ways to address the threats and (in those days theoretical) opportunities provided by digital service providers (known then as OTT players).

The Great Telco Debate 2015 marked a turning point. Before the event, theories about agility, and the digital telco and telco as a software business were seriously being discussed. At the event, telcos were presenting their road maps towards the digital telco. And there was solid progress.

At Telefonica, there is an impetus to transform into a software business and the main initiative is to bring networks and IT together.

At Vodafone, they were moving from an engineering led telco to a design led one, where innovative products worked together with the technology capabilities. Not the other way round. They were even wondering ‘what Google would do’ if they owned the company.

This was all very encouraging.

There were, we admitted, many things still to do. There was discussion about the unseen, yet possibly deadly barrier of culture. There was an admission that the idea that you can change culture from the inside is a myth. Part of this myth, said Martin Taylor of Metaswitch, is that telcos do not think like software companies. In fact, “telcos are going about software the same way they always have gone about things. Instead of being iterative, launch something, then improve, they want it to be perfect from launch.”

Next week will be a fascinating moment – or day – in time, as we gather for this year’s Great Telco Debate and find out where the digital telco is today.

Hosted by Chris Lewis and Graham Wilde, and following the same format of debating a motion and voting on it, one thing is for sure.

It will be entertaining.

With the return of the CIO from Telefonica and the CTO from Vodafone, we will see exactly where they have got to in the journey towards the digital telco.

With updates on Smart Cities, IoT, an economic context and a C-Level panel, it will be a useful day indeed. And one day is a virtue. As the brochure says, ‘we will give you the gift of time’, by condensing what could easily be a two day event into one.

Both Tony Poulos, Managing Editor of DisruptiveViews and Alex Leslie, Publisher will be there, pencils sharpened and ready for some quick, witty insights and discussion. Well, at least Mr Poulos will be.

Join us if you can, it really is a very good event. #GTD2016

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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