TM FORUM

How is the TM Forum evolving to fulfill the “Digital Era evolution”, what are the main challenges to be faced and how does this impact the role of Service Providers.
We recognized the changes taking place in the business landscape for service providers in 2013, and launched the Open Digital program to begin to prepare our members for the transformations to come. This program has begun the process of creating a common language and APIs for ecosystem partners to work together easily, and a number of catalyst projects have already proven the key technical and business principles behind this work. This program explores a broad range of use cases for digital services and Internet of Things use cases, and embraces a broad set of industries digital health, energy, utilities and other verticals.
In addition to this, the scale of transformation of the service provider business has become clear, leading to the launch of our Agile Business & IT program in 2014. As every industry goes through its own digital transformation, the opportunities for service providers are significant. But seizing these requires a radically different approach to product innovation, creation, customization and delivery, as part of an "elastic infrastructure" offering.
In 2014 we created the ZOOM (Zero-touch Orchestration, Operations and Management) project to create a living blueprint for a new generation of service provider support systems to deliver true business agility. Our goal is to make sure that service providers can move at the speed of the rest of the digital ecosystem.
The time has now come to pull all of these activities together, and at TM Forum Live!  (June 1-4, Nice, France) a new vision for the digital ecosystem will be launched. This provides a common vision and language for us to move forward working in key areas: Firstly, Customer Centricity to keep the end customer at the centre of our members’ businesses; secondly the digital bridges of technical and business processes between ecosystem partners to enable them to build the end to end management systems needed to ensure those customers experiences; and then the fundamental building blocks such as security, privacy and metrics. We intend to leverage the existing maturity of Frameworx to help make this a reality.

How is the TMForum making the whole of Frameworx more agile to align with the evolution of needs of Telcos. Are there plans to make it more easily usable by Customers?
Frameworx is very much at the centre of the fundamental building blocks mentioned above. Digital transformation is putting enormous pressures on telcos and the way they operate. This, in turn, drives the need for Frameworx to evolve to support emerging business models in the digital fabric. Frameworx has been continuously evolving to support these needs over the past two years.
As Frameworx expands to cover an ever-wider ecosystem, and be used in a much more agile business environment, we also recognize the need to keep it easy and efficient to use. We are working on this in a number of ways. Firstly we are ensuring that Frameworx is being driven forward by real use cases for complex digital services, identifying the common business processes, information elements and APIs and ensuring there is no duplication. Several key pieces of this work are included in the latest version – Frameworx 15.0 – being made available in June 2015, with many more planned for the coming months.
Secondly we are creating toolkits to guide businesses wanting to adopt Frameworx directly to the relevant sections, a piece of work that came directly out of the experience of working with other verticals in the Open Digital Program. We’re also working on new ways to consume and interact with Frameworx in addition to the many modeling and visualization tools already commercially available. Going forward we are looking at our packaging, whole release and collaborative development lifecycle to ensure it keeps the stability needed for certification programs and the agility needed for new business models.

One of today’s key issues is Virtualization of Networks; TM Forum has ZOOM among its strategic programs which is addressing interesting topics such as impact over Management Systems, transformation of NetOps toward the ore agile DevOps, Workforce evolution, etc. What are the challenges for the next few years and what is TMF is planning to better and more operationally support Telcos in deploying suitable infrastructures and to identify new business opportunities?
The evolution of digital ecosystems is where new business opportunities will emerge. The Forum intends to push forward with an agenda of connecting ecosystems, simplifying exchange of valuable data between ecosystems and establishing parts of the foundation for creating cross-industry ecosystem service offerings.
The TM Forum ZOOM program has already delivered several pieces of work that are already helping digital businesses today, future deliverables within this program will focus on accelerating this work in areas such as:

  • Complete policy management framework, validated Information Model and management APIs
  • System, Process and organisation transformation approach including use of catalogues
  • Automated procurement processes through the use of catalogues and relevant metrics.

Many of these changes will have major impacts on business processes, and the applications that drive those processes. The benefit of approaching these in a holistic way with in the TM Forum is that we will be able to reflect those changes in the Operations Framework and Application Framework, and allow members to have a consistent way of optimizing the operation hybrid platforms.

Once a new important topic such as NFV becomes “fashionable” all SDOs want to gain the most of it risking overlapping with others, and thus reducing efficiency. How TMForum plan to address the relationship with other groups to cooperate in the translation of TMF best practices into standards?
TM Forum has always been focused on the end-to-end management aspects of new industry dynamics, and we work collaboratively with other bodies to ensure we are complementing the work they do. While there are always "fashionable"topics, we find a lot of the work has sustaining themes. NFV and 5G are two good examples of this.
We work hard to avoid "reinventing the wheel" and in the example of NFV, have been closely involved with the ETSI NFV ISG since early in its life, coordinating with the leadership of this group to ensure our role is clearly understood. This has resulted in a number of ETSI Proof of Concept projects being housed under our Catalyst program, and universal respect for the Forum’s role being recognized by SDOs and many major analyst houses.
Another emerging topic, for example, is 5G. We consulted with NGNM during their white paper process, and plan to work closely with the Open Group on the Enterprise architectural aspects of our new digital ecosystem vision. Similarly, we are working closely with MEF on B2B NaaS.

 

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Nik Willetts
Chief Digital Officer for TM Forum. Nik is responsible for driving the Forum’s success and value-delivery across a broad range of competencies, including digital services. Previously, Nik held a number of executive positions within the Forum, including responsibility for marketing and communications, global events and IT. Prior to joining TM Forum, Nik ran a successful consulting business working with multi-national companies including BT, WestLB and The Carphone Warehouse.