VimpelCom has lauded the TM Forum's Open APIs initiative as one that will support telcos working on the digital transformation of their operations.
Nine major global operators threw their weight behind the scheme last month, saying the APIs developed under the TM Forum program would help them minimize the complexity of back-office systems and tap into partnership opportunities. (See 9 Global Telcos Back Open APIs Scheme.)
VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP), which owns Russia's second-biggest mobile network as well as other telco operations, was not among the nine, but one of its senior executives reckons such initiatives will be critical in future.
"Open API initiatives are more than welcome and needed," says Yogesh Malik, VimpelCom's chief technology officer, in a discussion with Telco Transformation.
The TM Forum , an industry association that focuses on back-office systems, is trying to get 200 service providers to sign up to its Open APIs initiative by 2018 and will take encouragement from Malik's remarks.
Service providers now involved with the scheme say the use of APIs that are open and standardized should simplify the process of developing different service and IT platforms.
BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), the UK's fixed-line incumbent and an Open APIs partner, claims to have reduced the number of IT systems it uses from 4,500 to 1,800 over the last few years by adopting similar principles.
While it has not joined the TM Forum initiative, VimpelCom sees digital and network transformation as an absolute priority.
The operator is replacing its legacy technologies with more sophisticated cloud-based systems that should help it to reduce costs and improve service offerings for customers.
Malik says a key challenge for the company involves changing its internal culture and "mindset."
Current employees are being retrained to ensure they have the "DevOps" skills now taken for granted in the web world, and VimpelCom is also bringing fresh talent into the organization.
In a DevOps model, technology development happens in a fluid and continuous fashion. Most telcos have been using a "waterfall" approach, where systems are designed, tested and released in more rigid steps.
Operators are being forced to adapt their working model by the demands of consumers who have grown up in the Internet era, according to Malik.
"We see where the value gets generated for the end consumer and we see how the next generation [of consumers] is evolving and how goods are being consumed," he says.
By taking advantage of new digital technologies, including data analytics tools, VimpelCom hopes to be able to provide the kind of service personalization offered by high-profile web companies like Facebook and Uber.
"These steps will allow us to create a new foundation for partnerships and to be a player in the digital lives of our consumers," he tells Telco Transformation.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading, Editor-in-Chief, , Telco Transformation