TM Forum tackles thorny question of how to measure digital transformation

TM Forum has unveiled a new tool that it hopes will help operators to improve the effectiveness of their digital transformation initiatives.

The industry body’s new Digital Maturity Model (DMM), unveiled at the TMFLive! event in France, has been designed to enable operators to assess their digital maturity and plan their digital transformation across their entire organisation.

Staff answer questions via an app across five “dimensions”: customer, strategy, technology, operations, and culture, people, organisation.

In total, the DMM assesses 175 metrics.

TM Forum CEO Nik Willetts told European Communications that his organisation had worked with a range of operators, vendors and consultants to improve on other models that operators had been using.

“Unlike other models where you are asked to rank how good you think something is on a scale of 1-5, we’ve determined what those five levels are so it’s very precise,” Willetts said.

“By collecting that data through the app we can provide a picture of how operators are aligned internally, what the views are across the business and start to redirect their energies and investments appropriately to make the change they want to happen.”

He added: “The whole point of our model is to provide a common reference point to say where we are today, where do we want to be tomorrow and how do we measure our progress.”

Operators including BT, Orange and Vodafone are expected to start trialling it over the next few weeks.

Willetts said there are some key things that operators need to focus on improving.

“What we see is siloed activity around customer experience and technology functions, in particular,” he said.

There is “frustration” that some parts of the business are changing while others are not, according to the CEO.

“They’re not embracing some of the deeper operational and culture things that need to change,” he explained.

“We view [the DMM] as a tool to help navigate that journey.”

Willetts rejected the notion that adding a new tool into what he described as a process of “radical change” would create more confusion and uncertainty.

“If you’re already in the middle of a transformation, [the DMM] will give you a view of where you are today and when you need to get to next,” he said.

“Settling realistic goals and measuring progress can be very difficult to do when transformation is occurring in different siloes across the business.”

Changing the culture of a telco is one of the key hurdles that must be overcome in digital transformation programmes.

According to European Communications Q1 2017 survey, a lack of leadership and a lack of qualified staff and skills were the second and third biggest challenges operators face.

“The DMM tries to measure digital behaviours, such as acceptance of failure and [the] fail fast mentality that you see at the likes of Google and Amazon,” said Willetts.

“[Telcos need] a different organisational structure in which you have all of the people required to deliver a solution working together as opposed to a more siloed approach...so there are a series of questions around those points.”

Willetts said the fact that employees could contribute to the DMM anonymously meant that they could be more open than in “a traditional internal survey”.

Tracking and analysing progress can only get you so far, however.

Digital transformation success will be measured by some very traditional metrics, says Willetts.
“Ultimately, it comes down to the bottom line – are you succeeding in entering new markets and seeing success with new business models?”

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