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Part I of III: TM Forum’s chief Strategy officer on Big Data

The Big Data Summit organized by TM Forum in Amsterdam was my first.
My first on Big Data - well that’s not so surprising as there haven’t been many yet - but also my first TM Forum event. That’s strange as I’ve been in and out of the Telco industry for over a decade – it was a great event so better late than never.

Before reporting on the event itself in part III (BTW you can get a preview with 50-odd tweets from my time-line @nebul2), this blog is the feedback from my discussion with Nik Willetts, chief strategy officer of the Forum. He started by reminding me who they are. Part II covers the rare demos I saw.
TM-Forum is a 25-year-old non-profit US incorporated organization with about 120 staff. It is Telco based with around a thousand member companies, a quarter of which are service providers. These operators account for a whopping great 90% of the world’s subscribers!

Nik told me this conference was in line with the general Telco movement away from pure network management towards more services. His job, and this conference in particular, are to look for the next wave of digital growth.

He sees Big Data underpinning most successful customer programs in the future. “The whole industry must become data driven, with shorter cycles so as to establish new services that can compete with the eBays or Googles of the world. Without this transformation operators will be loosing very real money. Today’s digital services are built around user experience whereas traditional Telco services are built around technology. It’s going to be about market pull or what customers perceive, where it used to be about what engineering departments pushed. Successful operators will have a deep understanding of User Experience.” Nik pointed to an example given during the conference by Cricket, where analytics were used to determine exactly where user calls were being dropped geographically and feeding that experience data to network engineering teams, thus reducing churn. “But cost reduction will also be a key driver for Big Data within service providers as a better understanding of User Experience helps operators anticipate customer issues and reduce truck rolls.”

I asked Willets what had already struck him during this event. He told me it was “different stake-holders playing multiple roles, attacking the issue from different angles. TM-Forum always tries to get different people round the table together.”

I asked about the general squeeze operators are feeling here in Europe, and whether Nik saw it as a global phenomenon or one restricted to developed markets. “TM Forum covers the whole world, so operators in developing markets have the benefit of seeing what operators in developed markets have or haven’t done successfully to cope with new threats and opportunities. That’s exactly what you can see at this Big Data event. TM Forum is instrumental in this knowledge and experience sharing”.

This is the first dedicated TM Forum event on Big Data although the subject has been covered for about 2 years within other conferences.
Willetts was happy with attendance for a launch event with over 150 delegates and 12 CxOs. The event will be replicated in a year somewhere else.
When I complemented Nik for the absence of the usual sales pitches in presentations he told me that “as with other TM Forum events, there is no pay-to-play here i.e. vendors cannot pay to get to speak. The business model is for delegate fees, sponsorship and exhibitors, with all presentations being vetted. We do allow vendors to speak alongside their customers where it adds value to the presentation, as you may have seen with the Cricket/TEOCO presentation”.

TM Forum logo 1

Part II (the exhibition) is here.

And if you want to skip straight to the conference content itself, that's here.

Stay tuned for the full write up of the event.

2 thoughts on “Part I of III: TM Forum’s chief Strategy officer on Big Data

  1. […] If you missed it, part I of this series is an interview of Nik Willetts, TM Forum’s Chief Strategy Officer. It’s here. […]