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Digital transformation is a journey – just don’t count on ever finishing

Digital Transformation

It’s a question which has plagued the industry, but Frost & Sullivan’s Karl Whitelock has had a crack at defining the buzziest of buzzwords, digital transformation.

Speaking at WeDo Technology’s Worldwide User Group meeting, Whitelock, who leads the OSS and BSS division, thinks he has it nailed. Unfortunately for the telcos of the world, his definition and action plan doesn’t seem to play into the strengths of the industry.

Digital transformation itself is a thankless task. It is one which is constantly criticized and scrutinized, but there is unlikely to ever be a satisfactory answer to the question. Digital transformation is a journey, according to Whitelock. It is the constant pursuit of remaining relevant and avoiding obsolescence. It is matching the experience of your products or services, with the expectations of the users. In this sense it is a never ending journey.

“There are so many moving parts in the digital world, what you know to be true now, might not be true for that long,” said Whitelock. “To remain relevant, you constantly need to be changing and evolving.”

This is perhaps not the answer which many would want to hear, as there are numerous vendors who can promise to deliver a digital transformation project. Whitelock’s definition contradicts this slightly, as digital transformation will never actually be delivered. It’s a game with shifting goal posts, a race with a moving finish line and a process which will frustrate those organizations who operate with an analogue mentality.

This is a definition which might not be welcomed by the telcos however. It plays into the hands of those businesses which are agile, diverse and fast moving; pretty much the opposite of every adjective which you would traditionally associate with the telcos. It is another sign that there need to be major changes at some of the slow-moving, cautious telcos. Assuming of course they want to have a place in the digital economy.

Over to the topic of the conference, revenue assurance and risk management, digital transformation is highly relevant, and also very encouraging.

“For revenue assurance people, digital transformation is fantastic; its job security,” said Whitelock.

Revenue leakage is common challenge for businesses around the world. It essentially means you are not charging a customer properly. It can occur anywhere in the revenue cycle, from sales to network configuration and rating and billing. It is becoming a bigger problem as mobile commerce becomes a bigger part of the telecom space, due to the growing number of complexities.

Revenue leakage, or the opportunity for fraud, can essentially occur during any internal process, or interface with customers or partners. Considering digital transformation is increasing the number of digital interfaces, as well as the complexity in the way customers are billed, revenue leakage is becoming a much larger issue.

“The concept of fraud and revenue leakage are very real when it comes to digital transformation,” said Whitelock. “You have a revenue model which is moving from static or batch releases, through to real-time, as well as more flexible and changing pricing models. Whereas prices were previously changing in months, they are now changing in minutes to remain competitive.

“Changes are occurring very quickly, creating a lot of complexity, and also a huge number of areas where revenue leakage and fraud is a very real prospect.”

So if you are looking to complete a digital transformation project, forget about it. By the time you finish one of your projects, someone would have caused another disruption elsewhere. It is a never ending journey which creates huge problems, but also much larger opportunities. But if you currently work in revenue assurance, drinks are on you.


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