Before I discuss transformational operationalization, I need to make a couple of statements to let you know where I’m coming from. Firstly, continued reference to a service provider as a CSP does not recognize what’s going on in the digitally connected world that our industry has enabled. The word communications is far too restrictive for what our industry delivers. We are unfortunately our own worst enemy concerning this term since we continue to structure, run and defend our business based around us remaining communications companies (still making “almost enough” margin) which results in our marginalization to this role by ourselves and users of our services. Therefore, we at Parhelion-GCA have coined the term “Information Enablement Provider”© (IEP) as the name for the “enlightened” industry player who has recognized or is starting to recognize their role in the new digital ecosystem and use this for our discussions around transformation with our “IEP” clients globally.
Secondly, to add to all this, our space is becoming crowded – with many other companies (device, OTT, apps, vertical solution providers and others) eating both our lunch and this margin we treasure so much. These other companies, however, still expect (really demand) us to deliver high quality services/availability and extend investment in our assets (mainly network but increasingly also IT) to meet “their” bandwidth needs without necessarily paying for these services. Therefore, we need to look at the structure of our business going forward, what are our core capabilities and assets and where we should be investing to maintain our treasured margin.
In my preceding blog post (http://www.telcoprofessionals.com/COrviss/blog/922/), I referenced the Parhelion-GCA three layer model to which we see IEP’s and global standards bodies like TMForum start to align. Both of these types of organizations recognize the need for a new business architecture to enable them to not only survive but to thrive. The big challenge, though, is that CSPs are not moving aggressively enough and, from our perspective, could end up with the worst of both worlds – a costly transformation that misses the window of opportunity and does not create the environment for successful growth and ongoing business agility. Going through the transformation from a CSP to an IEP is not easy. Let me put some stakes in the ground through some statements/opinions that, from our experience, will make the transformation more successful:
Define an Overriding Strategy
A transformation is NOT an IT transformation but a BUSINESS RE-DESIGN and must NEVER be started without a forward defining business architecture framing what an IEP is targeting to be at each stage of the transformation (e.g. which one or two of the three layers from our three-layer model will be the primary focus). Too many transformations are, at best, just a convergence and possibly simplification of some “traditional” (voice/data communications) business functions with some new labels being attached.
The Business Architecture must identify the role(s) and related functions that the IEP will play in the various eco-systems (e.g. enterprise, OTT, mhealth, finance, connected home/car/city, utilities, etc.) they target to support. This is a critical factor for the investment decisions of the company - why would you invest in things that are NOT your core business in the future! “Real” QoS/QoE based connectivity, solutions/services aggregation, Cloud service brokering, charging, transaction management and monitoring, Customer empowered management, etc. are examples of some of the roles and functions.
The Business architecture must identify what the core assets and investment focus will be (enhanced or divested) and the associated transformation business case must include business outcome target KPI’s/KQI’s. Each element of the transformation must be measured against these KPIs/KQIs – too many transformations are, at best, just a rationalization of some operational functions and upgrading of technology (primarily information systems).
Define a Realistic yet forward looking Operating Model:
The target operating and organizational models must be derived from the business architecture and be framed by clear definitions of accountability with success measured by business target metrics (KPI’s/KQI’s).
The process optimization and re-design needed to reflect the operating model should NOT come from an upgrade of the existing way of working but is inherited from the solutions that an IEP’s transformation partner(s) deliver to them. An IEP MUST embrace changing the way they work rather than force extensive changes to the solutions from their partners! BUT an IEP MUST choose a PARTNER rather than just a vendor and treat them as such!
Governance and oversight of transformation is the IEP’s responsibility. They MUST enhance skills in this function to make it work effectively. Program management has never really been a strong point in the old world of the CSP!
Define an appropriate Migration Approach:
The probability is that MOST CSP’s cannot transform themselves into IEPs using an “evolutionary” approach (the “updating” of their existing operating model, processes and organization) but must define a new target model using a “Greenfield” approach (a new environment [systems, processes and organization] is established for the new IEP direction). As IEPs venture into the new world of digital transactions (e.g. aggregation broker, wholesaler, M2M and new instances of “traditional” services, etc.) the digitally (inter)-connected ecosystem demands that Partner(s) be engaged to complete the end to end customer experience – the target architecture (function, data, process, organization) must be structured to deliver value in and between the selected Partner(s) in the ecosystem – this is, from our perspective, the IEP’s core business.
Select and Engage a Partner(s) to assist with the transformation:
Your engagement model with your chosen transformation partner(s) MUST be based around payment against value as measured by business outcomes (KPI/KQI) in order that your partner and you are incentivized to work together to enable the customer experience and to achieve maximum value. The engagement and operational models must be flexible in the event that the partnership fails to meet changing business objectives and new partners must be retained.
Data is the transformational catalyst for your future - embrace it!
The REAL success of an IEP will be based on their ability to manage, contribute to and appropriately value transactions and data (“big”, real-time, personalized and relevant). To highlight the importance of this, Parhelion-GCA has created the term M2IA4© to represent the progressive use of data from intelligent access, through aggregation, to analysis and finally, the most valuable element, actioning the data (IA4). M2IA4© also refers to the transaction and the various “flavors” [e.g. relevance/context] of it as it relates to Device/Monitored Entity/User/Customer in real-time. The “M2” element of our term is deemed to depict Machine (as in M2M) but also humans (Me) as being the generators/initiators of the data and the recipient of the “conditioned/actioned” data (IA4).
Note: In the IEP world, we at Parhelion-GCA use the term “Transaction” for representing the capabilities that are enabled by the IEP since we view “Service” is too limiting and has too many associations with the “old world” of CSP.
Naturally, the above only provides a flavor of some of the things that we view are needed to help a CSP move to becoming an IEP and remain relevant and vibrant going into the future. As Parhelion, we have experience with all of the above and are working with the future IEPs to reach their desired objectives. As is hopefully apparent from the above, PARTNERING is a critical element and requires a different and new approach to your partnering and sourcing strategy. Since this is such a complex topic, it warrants it’s own blog – see Mary Whatman’s views around this at http://www.telcoprofessionals.com/MWhatman/blog/923/).
In addition, even though it seems like it, I haven’t neglected the Consumer/Customer. I believe that our industry view of Consumer/Customer is too restrictive (especially in the world of the IEP) and there is a need for a different way in which the Customer and their data is managed. Therefore, I’ve a new blog around Customer Empowerment that will address this area that will be coming out soon. Watch this space! As always, critique and comment appreciated!