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You’ve changed!

Just two years ago if you spoke to someone who worked for one of the major service providers, like AT&T, Vodafone, Orange etc and asked them what their company did, then you’d be fairly confident of the answer. Most would say their companies were telecoms operators, or communication service providers.

I’ve just spent the last hour looking though the boring part of press releases to see how companies describe themselves. The ‘About’ piece at the end of a press release that no-one ever reads, unless they need a quick cut and paste job to describe the company, sometimes can give an interesting insight into a company’s ambitions and beliefs, which in turn drive strategy and tactics. Just looking at how some of the major service providers describe themselves now and how they saw themselves just two years highlights the change that we’re undergoing.

So let’s start by looking at AT&T. In 2014 they were “a premier communications holding company”. Now in 2016 they “helps millions around the globe connect with leading entertainment, mobile, high-speed Internet and voice services”. Entertainment has come from not being mentioned two years ago to getting top billing today. Voice is mentioned last. This gives an interesting insight into AT&T’s priorities.

One of the most innovative service providers is Telefonica. In 2014 they were “one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world”. All change in 2016, as they promote the aspiration to become an ‘Onlife telco’. Their current vision (taken from their website) is “Telefonica – Digital life is life itself, and technology is an essential part of being human. We want to create, protect and boost connections in life so people can choose a world of unlimited possibilities. And by focusing on people, we aspire to become an Onlife Telco”. This is a substantial jump from being a ‘telecommunications company’.

Elsewhere in Europe, Vimplecom is moving on from their 2014 position of being “an international telecoms company” to being “an international communications and technology company, headquartered in Amsterdam, and driven by a vision to unlock new opportunities for customers as they navigate the digital world”.

You get the idea.

This change of corporate positioning on press releases is well and good. But it needs to be supported by a change in the mechanics of running a business that will enable service providers to turn their vision and corporate messages into day to day reality for their customers and employees. One of main components that will enable this transformation is how service providers develop, market and make money from the new services that digital enables. Openet has just published the results of an operator survey on the role of BSS in digital transformation. One of the key findings was that operators don’t have the time to go through large, lengthy and expensive BSS transformation project (which have a high percentage of failure). Instead they want smaller more agile projects that can fast track transformation. This makes sense. Just looking at the advances in corporate positioning from some of the leading service providers shows the change in their corporate strategy in two years. The last thing service providers need is to be left behind because they’re waiting for a four year BSS transformation project to finish.

Download Openet’s research paper: BSS and Digital Transformation – Operator Survey Results

Stephen O’Loughlin

VP Product Management