Harsh, maybe. A recognisable characterisation? Unfortunately, with some notable,partial exceptions*, yes. So what should these telcos do to become the nimble, lean, dynamic friendly operations they need to be in order to avoid an early death?
Are you the exception? A Lean** 4G/5G focused Telco.
Labouring the analogy, Telcos need a lifestyle change, to make some hard, perhaps painful & radical choices; in order to increase their life expectancy.
So as your (self-nominated) lifestyle coach here are my top 12 recommendations that will help you achieve your Vision & Start to define the Lean, toned, svelte, Digital Service*** & Connectivity Telco Platform hiding inside you:
Act to shed those pounds (hardware), think leaner & flexible (software), not fatter & unadaptable.
Aim for toned not muscle-bound, let someone else do the heavy lifting but don’t jump the gun. Move to a Cloud First Model. Perhaps, Private in dedicated hosting environment managed, operated, maintained & secured by you for ‘Business Critical’? Hybrid for non-core activities & key customers? Public/Shared - are you in beta or is cost a key issue? Cloud RAN?Latency is still an issue, particularly at the edge.
Regularly measure your progress. The new you will be reached by taking small steps. Learn from each new step. Walk, trot, run. Starting to move towards your goal is the hardest. Create a common outsourced shared ownership national 2G & 3G roaming model with clear shut down objectives with back-ended payments & TUPE. Use 4G to steer towards & prepare to Leap ahead & test the ground for that big 5G play. Focus investment on 4/5G developments that customers want.
A slice of Marmite on toast or Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Make sure you eat well but just what you need. Start to Define, Learn & experiment with Network Slicing in 4G today to make the 5G move easier.
Discover activities that work for you: a bootcamp in the local park or even Paragliding. Going outside on a Cloudy day isn’t for everyone, ask a Native (software vendors or SIs) to help in this area rather than Gym Bunnies (Equipment vendors). Little & often is often better than Big & seldom.
Avoid a long Gym Contract lock-in, spend on your passions - maybe Abstract Art. Move to Open Source software and Open Stack principles, virtualise & abstract on COTS Compute, Network & Storage Products. Leap to Containers for speed; test and measure new products, pivot (or Persevere).
Create playlists for your Exercise Regime. Aspire to be the Carl Cox of Gym Playlists. Alternatively, use your favourite streaming music service linked to your smart wearable to choose the track from the catalog that matches let Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning help you automate track selection using your favourite streaming Service & personal catalog to select tracks in line with whatever exercise you are doing, automatically & intelligently adjusting the rhythm, seamlessly linking to your desired work-rate? Providing the best experience will be complex. Rapid Service Orchestration & rapid Service Chain creation will be critical to your success; they need to be your core competence.
Free up more time to pursue & focus on your ultimate fitness outcomes. Finding time for all this will be hard. Make your life easier & free up time for the fun stuff. Identify unnecessary, dull or repetitive tasks whenever possible; remove, automate, eliminate them; accelerate or augment the rest. Explore how AI/Machine Learning, Mixed (Virtual, Augmented & 360) Reality, Big Data & Robotics can streamline or augment operations - begin with Customer Care, Service Orchestration, Capex Decisions, Field Maintenance.
Exercise with others. Accelerate, your Personal Growth is important too. Open up to to others, it may be that your new found fitness & agility makes you an attractive partner, whom you may choose to share your data with, explore new experiences together or embark on a new partnership that produces something truly amazing & unique that you both value.
Free up space to create an area to work out. Outsource Storage or get something delivered to your Drop Box, so you can run more.
Measure how your fitness is developing. Capture, analyse, combine & share data to improve.
Do you really need your car? A depreciating asset, taking up space outside your house with high maintenance & other ongoing costs. A whole spectrum of options such as sharing, joint ownership, ‘Pay per use’ & leasing models may provide significant cost benefits. Innovate. As networks continue to grow reduce your spend. Less capital intensive approaches are key. 5G will need more sites (macro, micro, pico, femto) - use the data and emerging technologies available to make better choices.
Act Now. Embark on a series of fitness initiatives now. Alternatively, life may be a lot shorter.
* Three UK's Core Network to the Cloud, Telefonica's Digital Transformation & AI Assistant Aura, Vodafone 3G switch-off by 2020, Vimpelcom's repositioning from telco to Veon Global Tech Company & AneedA assistant, Telenor's AI Lab.
*** Telco is the worst performing sector in the Institute of Customer Service's 2017 Customer Satisfaction Index.None of the major telcos are in the Top 50. Notable exceptions are GiffGaff (9th) & Tesco Mobile (19th), Both of these are MVNOs running on O2's Network.