Last week saw representatives from across the industry gather for the first ‘Great Telco Debate’ – an event organized by analyst houses Lewis Insight and BWCS to discuss the future of the telecoms industry.
Held at the American Square Conference Centre, with Tower Bridge only around the corner, attendees were advised that they could throw themselves into the river if discussions should take a depressing turn. Peter Day, from BBC Radio 4’s In Business, in fact summed up the day as “manic depressive – we’ve had some real highs and lows”, after several analysts and vendors made their case for change.
Whether it was realizing the untapped potential of the SME market, or moving to a wholesale model, whereby OTT/ DSP/ Next Generation competitors (no one could agree on the appropriate term to use) became customers, everyone had strong views on the changes operators needed to make to leverage their position in the centre of the disrupted digital world.
As Theresa Cottam, Chief Strategist at Telesperience, put it: “the failure to shift the business model is the biggest risk to telecoms”. And while there was lots of talk about “breaking down walls” – a chunk of Roman wall glowed eerily and appropriately behind the panel.
Among the different views was a strong consensus that operators needed to rethink risk, and adopt a try and fail model if they wanted to be a genuine service innovator and maintain a role in the new digital value chain. The format of the day – lots of short, sharp presentations – almost mirrored the model that operators were agreeing that they urgently need to take: harnessing new ideas, testing the methodology and then implementing – fast.