Telecoms industry association TM Forum is so into digital transformation these days it has even renamed its big event of the year after it.

Scott Bicheno

May 14, 2018

3 Min Read
TM Forum serves up some digital transformation top tips

Telecoms industry association TM Forum is so into digital transformation these days it has even renamed its big event of the year after it.

At Digital Transformation World, TM Forum is publicizing the results of its Digital Transformation Tracker, a global survey of CSPs designed to see how the industry is getting on with digital transformation. In this context the buzzword seems to refer to a bunch of initiatives and cultural changes designed to make telcos as fast and agile as internet companies.

60% of respondents said they’re already on some kind of digital transformation journey, which seems a b it low to be honest. Among the stated obstacles to getting on with a process that is generally considered vital to the long-term prosperity of the industry are: a lack of vision and focus; cultural and organizational issues and a lack of top management support.

The proportion of respondents who said they’re “very optimistic” was just 11% – half the level it was when they were asked in October 2018. So not only does the process seem to be stalling, but CSPs are becoming increasingly pessimistic about turning that situation around.

“Any change is hard to implement, and CSPs are no exception,” said said Mark Newman, Chief Analyst at TM Forum. “Some identify that they are not risk takers, and making a leap of faith into unproven revenue streams is not easy. Our second Digital Transformation Tracker shows that digital transformation extends well beyond technology itself, and increasingly we’re seeing concerns about organizational and cultural readiness.

“In order to ready themselves for successful digital transformation, operators must not only be able to articulate a clearly defined vision for their transformation projects, but critically they must communicate their vision throughout every level of their organisation.”

The proposed solution is for CSPs to shift their whole mindset towards being a digital service provider (DSP) instead, and TM Forum reckons it knows how best to go about that. “To date, definitions of what a DSP is, or could be, are relatively scarce,” said Nik Willetts, CEO of TM Forum. “The terms “platform” and “enabler” are now being adopted by many CSPs – and their technology suppliers – but there is a lack of clarity and understanding about how to monetise such approaches.

“Our Vision 2020 report seeks to address this by laying out the transition from a CSP, to digital CSP and beyond. From the new commercial and architectural models involved in becoming an enabler and partner, to the best route to take for strategic investments and access to vertical markets, the report offers a clear pathway to allow companies to be clearer on their digital transformation aspirations. This all starts with the CSP setting a clear vision for its business.”

The event itself is a pleasant alternative to the craziness of MWC, offering more opportunity to just sit down and talk shop with CSPs and vendors. The vibe we’re getting so far indicates support for any initiative that clarifies and facilitates the process of digital transformation but, from an operator perspective, there seems to be a feeling that vendors could do with raising their game in this area.

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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