TM Forum: Cultural, organizational issues are dragging down service providers' digital transformations

TM Forum's recent survey finds that service providers are still uncertain about their digital transformation strategies. (Pixabay)

Cultural and organizational obstacles are weighing down communications service providers' digital transformations, according to a TM Forum report.

TM Forum's Digital Transformation Tracker survey found that the lack of clear vision and goals (42% of the respondents) and organizational and cultural issues (40%) were "very serious" barriers to carriers implementing their digital transformation strategies. Another hurdle for communications service providers' (CSP) transformations was a lack of top management support (37%).

Given that it's 2018, it's somewhat surprising that CSPs are still struggling to get their arms around their own digital transformations. The number of respondents that said they were "very optimistic" was just 11%, which was half the level it was when the previous Digital Transformation Tracker (DTT) survey came out in October.

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Furthermore, CSPs were also divided on just what type of carrier that they want to become. Less than 20% responded that they wanted to remain purely connectivity providers while 16% said they would rather become platform providers.

TM Forum's Vision 2020 report outlined a migration pathway for CSPs to evolve into digital service providers (DSPs). According to the DTT survey, 30% of the current CSPs were interested in evolving into DSPs, while 36% responded that they would opt for becoming partnership-led multiplay operators.

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The results underscored just how hard it is for CSPs to shift the direction of their companies' workforces and network strategies. Not having a clear strategy in place for digital transformations, whether in terms of increased efficiency or full-scale business model transformations, increased the difficulty level of digital transformations.

“Any change is hard to implement, and CSPs are no exception. Some identify that they are not risk takers, and making a leap of faith into unproven revenue streams is not easy,” said Mark Newman, chief analyst, TM Forum, in a prepared statement. “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 organization.”

In the first quarter, TM Forum surveyed 176 respondents from 105 CSPs, operating in 59 countries and 91 respondents from 45 supplier companies. TM Forum issues its DTT survey twice yearly.