There were good vibes aplenty at this year's TeleManagement World in Nice...
TeleManagement World, gave the distinct impression that they were taking an upbeat and optimistic view of their particular world. Certainly, in terms of sheer numbers it was the biggest and best TeleManagement World to date, with over 2300 delegates and exhibitors in attendance, including over 80 vendor exhibitors and eight Catalyst showcase exhibits -- the TMF's "living labs" showing multi-vendor demonstrator projects, developed to TM Forum specifications, such as eTOM (enhanced Telecommunications Operations Map) and SID, the data and integration model.
Keith Willetts, TM Forum Chairman, set the optimistic tone when he commented: "This is by far the biggest TeleManagement World yet, on just about every measure. The industry has been in the deep freeze for a few years, but now the ice is really melting."
His upbeat stance was taken up by many of the conference speakers, including BT's CTO Matt Bross, who made no secret of the fun he was having, announcing to the audience that being CTO of BT at this point in time is "the best job on the planet". He went on to describe BT's plans for the Â£10-billion build out of its 21st Century Network -- an all-IP network -- naming Fujitsu, Alcatel, Siemens Ericsson and Lucent, among others, as key equipment suppliers in the scheme. At the same time, he emphasised that BT aims to reduce its cost structure by Â£1bn a year, as of 2009.
Tapping into the much-vaunted concept of the "tipping point", Bross believes that this BT project is tipping the traditional telephony service into something he calls "networked IT", and underlined the changes underway with those words -- so beloved of software vendors over the past few years ---convergence and transformation. But he stressed that convergence simply won't happen if the underlying infrastructure to deliver and support it is not put in place - and that is the role which transformation has to play.
Indeed 'transformation' was a recurring theme for the conference speakers. Not surprisingly, Matt Desch, CEO of Telecordia Technologies, and a standard-bearer of transformation (see story on page 48), stressed that transformation, which is being driven by consolidation and change, was as much about non-technical issues as about technical ones. He warned that companies are likely to have to tackle strong resistance to change -- a fairly consistent human reaction -- but noted that effective commercial survival might well depend on the success of the process.
While not exactly bucking the keynote speeches' trend -- and its attendant enthusiasm for transformation -- Telecom Italia's Stefano Pileri appeared to be taking a more measured approach, emphasising that the company's migration to NGN will be market driven, promoting new services such as IPTV, and only making infrastructure investment when necessary.
Outside the conference rooms, the exhibition floors were busy, noisy and clearly reflected the general feeling that telecoms was, at last, moving out of the doldrums. Most exhibitors said that they were more than satisfied with the level of attendance (a comparatively rare sentiment at industry exhibitions), and many underlined the general view that business was 'on the move'. Many exhibitors timed a whole range of announcements to coincide with TMW, heightening the sense of an active, go-getting industry, as well as taking advantage of the considerable press attendance at the event. CSG, for instance, announced that BT will deploy the latest version of its Kenan Billing Platform. The two companies will work together to upgrade six deployments across the BT group, supporting services including fixed line local and long distance, IP and broadband. On the customer care front, Nawras, the Oman based mobile operator, opted for Microsoft's Customer Care Framework, while Atos Origin also elected the Microsoft route, announcing the launch of a Microsoft-based solution which includes pre and postpaid billing, CRM and order management, for MVNOs and enablers.
The more sombre topic of fraud and revenue leakage was highlighted by Azure when the company announced that research it had commissioned from analysts Analysys shows that telecom operators have lost around $115 billion in revenue since the last TeleManagement World event. The major sources of revenue loss were identified as being fraud, poor processes and procedures, applying new products and prices, and incomplete or incorrect CDRs. At the same time, Azure announced the launch of its interconnect version 9.0, the latest manifestation of its interconnect system and bureau service, which allows operators to analyse call data, bill more accurately and verify interconnect traffic between themselves and other network partners.
Taking up the TMF's much repeated advice on lean business transformation, Denmark's TDC is automating it's back office processes using Cramer inventory-powered automation software to enable the rapid and cost-effective introduction of next generation services and facilitate the phased retirement of legacy systems. Quality monitoring announcements were also in evidence with the likes of Tele.ring opting for NetTest for service quality monitoring of its UMTS network, while Proximus chose Datamat's wireless end-to-end service quality monitoring solution, which will perform quality assessments on such services as voicemail, SMS, MMS and WAP.
There were, of course, many more announcements, and almost certainly several deals struck that did not quite reach the announcement stage in Nice. Exhibitors did not, of course, confine themselves purely to the exhibition floors, and many were also clearly keen to participate in -- as well as present -- a wide range of conferences sessions, which were divided into five tracks: Lean Business Transformation; Implementing NGOSS; Next Generation Network Operations; Customer-Centric Services; and Billing and Revenue Management. They were also -- as was everyone else attending TMW -- much in evidence at the many social functions, where that essential elements of any successful event - networking - is eased and oiled by the copious amounts of champagne, canapÃ©s or, indeed, cordon-bleu level, several-course, meals. Certainly judging by the chatter volume and very evident bonhomie at these events, things must be looking up for the telecoms industry. n