The traditional approach for operators to run their business forever changing, now the telecoms industry needs to be more open to collaboration to truly thrive.
TM Forum CEO Nik Willetts opened Digital Transformation World in Copenhagen by painting a positive landscape where technology has “delivered welfare and wealth improvements such as we've never seen in history before”, but the industry must now “face the reality that we're at a crossroads” that must be addressed to chase further industry growth.
The telecoms industry has to evolve from being that traditional connectivity provider that delivers the connectivity “glue” that digital economies rely on, this is “not sustainable” in the long term said Willetts.
Opportunity to grow is abundant, Willets broke down growth paths into three key areas the industry must rally behind: building the right technologies and moving away from silos, embracing the true value of data through machine learning and AI, and thirdly building the right operating models to utilise those technologies efficiently.
“We could unlock that value as we co-create value with others in growing platforms and ecosystems, then we can really harness true industry potential to solve many challenges and find growth which has been elusive for at least a decade,” said Willetts.
The chief executive also pointed to Google Cloud becoming a TM Forum member to illustrate his point on collaboration, and how such hyperscalers can be partners to unshackle companies from telco tunnel vision.
The Jio example
Indian operator Jio took to the stage to showcase how it has worked to better collaborate with new sectors to bring in new revenue streams, since launching in 2016.
The company pointed to its support of NB IoT across its network since its launch, to be the only operator in India to offer connectivity to IoT devices on its network.
This has opened doors for the operator to work in the utility space and the government looking to embark on their own digital transformation journeys.
“Everything from electricity, water, gas, all of that is getting modernised in India and this NB IoT platform provides a pretty seamless way to bring in that capability of connectedness to enable IoT. This will only get better as 5G comes along with things like MMTC (Massive Machine-Type Communications), which will even create denser networks of the IoT ecosystem,” said Jio president and CEO Kiran Thomas.
Jio has 421 million mobile subscribers and each consumer on average consumes 20GB of data per month, this is a 66% increase from last year. This shows how India is rapidly becoming a leading digital society, claimed Thomas.
He explained the operator is seeing success due to focusing on two strategy pillars: building the infrastructure needed to connect India’s 1.3 billion population, while simultaneously building “planet-scale” platforms that can be used to improve India.
“We wouldn't stop with just providing connectivity. We would rather extend those capabilities and strengths to building what we call digital solutions that can address not just the telecom business but a number of other industry verticals as well. And digital connectivity is the foundational building block for starting and building a digital society,” said Thomas.
Its clear collaboration is needed among experts across the technology space and its vast segments and niches. But what is clearly uniting them all is connectivity, one needs the other to truly thrive and deliver true life-changing difference to societies in emerging markets.