ORLANDO -- MEF 2017-- If there are any service providers that are still on the fence in regards to mapping out their digital transformations, CenturyLink's Eric Bozich has some simple advice: "It's keep up or die."
Bozich offered this advice while speaking on a panel at the MEF17 conference in Orlando, Fla. The panel was asked by moderator Carol Wilson, editor-at-large of Light Reading, about why it was so important to move quickly on digital transformations.
"Creating an environment that allows customers to have a better experience, deploying the networks that are going to enable all of the advanced services and all of the digital transformation services that are required are a pretty critical set of capabilities," Bozich said. "From our perspective, the danger of not participating in that aggressively and participating in groups like this (MEF) is really risking the future of the business.
"So we need to be part of that ecosystem. We need to provide leadership in driving the deployment and adoption of the standards that are required. It really creates an environment where transformation is not just an aspirational type of thing but really in the DNA of the business."
Service providers can't be part of the digital economy and the transformations that are occurring without being part of the underlying technology that drives and enables all of it, Bozich said.
"The competitive environment is changing rapidly," Bozich said. "It's not just telcos competing with telcos, the lines between those different segments of the business, different segments of the marketplace, are getting blurred every day. CenturyLink is going to be as much as software company as we are an infrastructure provider if we are going to compete in this new digital economy."
Epsilon's Mark Daley, director of digital strategy and business development, said his company sees things differently as a wholesale service provider.
"The definition of wholesale really changed for us," he said. "We realized three years ago that where traditionally we would sell and buy from carriers and mobile operators that has changed. The growth segments for us are the CPaaS guys and guys in the cloud stack. In terms of demographics and segmentation those are by far the fasted growth sectors that we have.
"They buy differently. It's on-demand, it's high quality, it's control. What these guys do very well is they take a function and they expose it to someone else. As a direct result they demand that from us. For us, if we don't meet that expectation, they move on to someone that does."
Daley said that while the focus of digital transformation is typically on the end customers, it has had an internal impact as well. By sitting down and defining transformation and e-commerce strategies, Epsilon has reaped internal cost efficiencies and automation benefits.
Daniele Mancuso, director innovation and engineering, Telecom Italia Sparkle , said his company, which provides fiber connections across Greece, Turkey and Italy, was caught between over-the-top Internet providers and telcos, and it was important for service provider leadership not to get caught in geographic comfort zones because they will "fall down quickly."
"Lets look at the market." he said. "The digital economy is running much faster than our internal business processes. Enterprises are always looking to connect with different service providers and cloud providers around the world. We need to move faster because the alternative is to be wiped out."
While 5G solves last mile issues, it also has the potential to bypass some service providers' networks completely, Mancuso said.
"We might be able to work with the 5G guys to leverage our requirements for end-to-end connectivity, but we may lose that if we are not fast enough," he said.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation