Paul Vedam Paul Vedam President & CEO - TIERONE

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The role of OSS & IT: Another change? Really?

  • It’s been a while since I last posted anything here. But there are lots of interesting things going on out there, for sure. And I’m back just in time for our annual gathering at TM Forum Live, which should be a fascinating event given all the changes of late in technology, networking — and the industry in general.

    Having worked on all aspects of the telecoms puzzle, I am fascinated by the latest challenges. We have moved a long way from building our own systems, moving towards buying custom-developed and COTS products and into the era when the network vendors are trying to do everything. During that journey, the separate OSS and IT groups have undergone a great deal of “silent transformation”, such as replacing technical staff with project managers, outsourcing commodity development and support, and ultimately merging into a single group.


    So what is the career path for the average IT worker? Typically it has involved the management of vendors and the outsourcing of both technical and delivery responsibilities. I’m still a little puzzled about what role the architecture staff have within the service provider. That aside, the group as a whole is about to face its most extreme test: the advent of software as a service. A business can now acquire and use what it needs on an ad hoc basis, without IT playing any role at all.


    This is a scary thought for the average IT manager, who is left with managing legacy systems while new technology passes them by completely. How do they effectively play a role here? Where will their architects (and I use that term loosely) provide value in this new eco-chain?


    If I were a business, I would question why I need IT at all for new products when I can buy what I want over the top. Perhaps it would be necessary for integration purposes? But then traditional integration processes have still left me with a lot of manual work to do. Was the integration worth it?


    Perhaps I need IT to ensure that there is flexibility in existing systems to do what is required for new services. The cost is prohibitive when you discuss anything with IT. Flexibility is not something we have typically experienced. And flexibility in SaaS seems too good to be true. And there is the punch line: it probably is.


    Yet instead of trying to stop this train, IT professionals need to learn to adapt and provide value to the business aka your customer. The days when you can decide for them are long over. You need to help them decide. As IT professionals, we need to understand that this is happening and be ready for the change that is coming.


    Another way to put this is that instead of prescribing the solution to businesses that are very jaded by past failures, IT professionals should provide insightful analysis outlining the pros and cons of various solutions that the business does not have the time to understand. Prescribing is surely no longer the answer. The quicker we accept this and provide what makes sense, the better the long-term results of this latest change.


    Against this background, there will surely be some interesting discussions at this year’s TM Forum Live. If this or any other topic interests you, let’s connect in Nice. I always look forward to a heated debate!

    Paul Vedam
    About Paul Vedam Paul Vedam works as President & CEO at TIERONE
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