There are few, if any, industries that haven’t been touched by digital technologies. Telecommunications is no exception. In fact, carriers are in the thick of a digital transformation, investing in new technologies like cloud, mobility, big data, video and more to improve operational efficiencies, better serve customers and reach new ones, and create new opportunities that build competitive strengths and profits. But in an intense market that’s rife with consolidation and new, non-traditional entrants, there’s a lot riding on these investments—and the carriers’ legacy IT infrastructures may not be nimble enough to support them. This is the topic at hand at a breakout session at this year’s Red Hat Summit, featuring experts from the telco industry.
In its Telecommunications Industry Outlook 2017, Deloitte says 2017 may be the year of digital transformation for carriers in both the United States and globally largely because many telcos still rely heavily on manual processes. The new technologies have the potential to help telcos improve a variety of operations including customer care, sales, and billing. Already, carriers are turning to the Internet and social media channels to directly serve customers, instead of relying only on call centers.
For example, Sprint has been actively ramping up its use of online and mobile technology to improve the customer experience. In late 2016, Sprint announced a new chief digital officer, Rob Roy, to oversee its effort to build an end-to-end digital customer journey across all device types that delivers a “seamless, omni-channel approach for acquiring the always connected customer, driving sales and providing support.”
In an article on telcos and the digital revolution, McKinsey and Co. outlines a number of steps telcos should focus on as they move toward digitization. In addition to creating a digital journey for customers that covers all channels, using data analytics, and more, the consultancy says operators are focusing on efforts to streamline, standardize and automate their IT infrastructures, especially since “aging and complex legacy IT applications are a major hindrance in competing against nimble digital rivals.”
Deloitte echoes that sentiment about telcos’ IT infrastructure in its industry outlook, saying telecos won’t be able to achieve rapid growth without upgrading their network infrastructures. The consulting firm goes on to say that operators are moving away from proprietary, hardware-based network equipment to technologies such as software defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) so they can more efficiently and effectively manage their networks and be more responsive to changes in consumer preferences.
Like many telcos, Verizon is actively deploying NFV in its operations. The company has already completed an NFV OpenStack cloud across five of its U.S. data centers, as outlined in this OpenStack.org post. The pod-based architecture is designed to provide the hyperscale capabilities and flexibility necessary to meet the company’s complex network requirements, and Verizon worked with Big Switch Networks, Dell and Red Hat to develop and deploy design.
At Red Hat Summit 2017, May 2-4 in Boston, telco industry execs will take the stage to discuss the digital transformation of the telecommunications industry. The session, slated for May 3, 10:15 am. – 12:15 a.m. in Room 209 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, will include presentations from Red Hat’s Darrell Jordan-Smith and Joe Patteta. A panel will follow with:
- Sandro Mazziotta, Red Hat
- Daniel Bernier, Bell Canada
- Marouanne Balmakhtiar, Sprint
- Laura Parks-Right, Verizon
- David L. Harris, Verizon
- Walter Miron, Telus
- Azhar Sayeed, Red Hat (panel moderator)