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Who’s really shaping the future of telecoms?

June 12, 2017

Bob Laskey   

Blog Contributor

The future of wholesale telecoms might not be in our hands. We’ve seen the market disrupted by new players, applications and services repeatedly over the last decade. That is why it might be time to ask, “Who is really shaping the future of our industry?”

I attended International Telecoms Week (ITW) in Chicago in May, and there were a lot of discussions about industry collaboration and managing disruption.  A shared vision and a set of strategic industry priorities is a good start – but there’s more to it than that.

I think there needs to be a realisation that carriers are not setting the agenda in wholesale anymore. Enterprises and end users are.

It isn’t 2005, and wholesale carriers no longer hold a privileged position with high voice revenues and massive growth in data consumption. No matter what is discussed and agreed on at ITW, the real drivers for change are coming from the bottom up – from enterprises – rather than from the top down.

Enterprises want to see service providers evolve their businesses and reshape their offerings to better match their needs. That cascades across the value chain. The wholesale industry should take note and focus on how they are going to enable transformation and help service providers to serve new enterprise demand.

In a global study commissioned by Tata Communications, we found that there is a gap between what service providers are offering and what enterprises really want. Focus areas are not aligned and there’s work to be done to make transformation effective and real.

The study showed that 43% of enterprises are prioritising cloud services while only 24% of service providers are. Enterprises want network services that reflect the journey they are taking to the cloud. At the same time, they are looking for cloud consulting and help with migration, whereas 36% of enterprises said their network providers could do better to help them with this.

Similarly, the study shows that 22% of enterprises are concerned about their service provider’s current network not keeping up with new applications or usage patterns, while only 3% of service providers say they are prioritising this.

While service providers are proud of their progress in managed services, enterprises are still concerned about networking. 30% of enterprises include “problems experienced with network providers” in their top 3 challenges but only 18% of service providers believe it’s a top 3 enterprise challenge.

I think this all adds up to a need to refocus on delivering solutions that match today’s expectations. Enterprises have very different needs than they did back in 2005, and they want service providers to change quickly to meet their new needs.

They want to collaborate with service providers and for their services providers to have a partner strategy that enables them to offer borderless growth and the agility to deploy new applications and services wherever they’re needed.

Enterprises want ubiquitous access to their applications and services while delivering seamless customer experiences regardless of device, platform or location. As the fight against cyber criminals gathers pace, the reliability and security of enterprise IT systems is more critical than ever, helping CIOs to manage business risk. Ultimately this will accelerate organisation-wide digital transformation.

Anticipating this shift in enterprises’ requirements and the growing role of cloud computing in powering their digital transformation, we have made it our mission to make the Internet fit for business. We have taken the best of both worlds – the security and predictability of private networks and the reach, scalability and cost-effectiveness of the public internet – and joined forces with scores of leading ISPs and the world’s biggest cloud players to create the IZO cloud enablement platform. It lowers the barriers that large multi-national businesses face in adopting cloud computing, making it quicker, more secure and less CAPEX intensive. By partnering with us, service providers are able to offer the full range of IZO services to enterprises to support them on their digital transformation journey without having to invest in building their own cloud solutions from scratch.

In this whole new world – powered by the cloud, petabytes of data and ubiquitous connectivity – the path to a healthy and sustainable wholesale market will come from understanding the entire value chain. Even for the largest providers in the world, the future of wholesale will be defined by the end user. That’s really where disruption starts in our industry.

Read Bob’s last blog post on the four business challenges that service providers must help enterprises to address.