The rapid pace of innovation in the ICT industry, changing customer demands, and ongoing digital transformation across industries and verticals, all requires important changes in the ways communication service providers (CSPs) operate. At the basis of CSP transformation into digital service providers capable of competing with over-the-top (OTT) providers is the transformation of CSPs' technological foundation — their networks.
IDC and ZTE developed a joint research on the digital transformation of CSP in the cloud era and released the white paper ZTE: Enabling CSP Digital Transformation to the Cloud Era.
CSP network transformation will, in IDC's view, be based on the guiding principles of software-centricity and cloud, which will drive rapid adoption of technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). CSPs will utilize these, and similar future technologies, not just to improve the way they operate traditional telecommunications technologies; the adoption of these technologies will trigger a qualitative change in CSP businesses.
Through NFV and SDN, CSPs stand to gain unprecedented agility, flexibility, and efficiency, but only if the transformation of the way they develop their services, and conduct their business, goes hand in hand with that network transformation. To achieve excellence in service creation and customer engagement, CSPs need to reinvent their processes and organization along the transformational lines represented by Agile and DevOps services and software development methods.
Another extremely important aspect of CSP digital transformation is the necessity for CSPs to adopt the mindset of cloud-scale service providers and large enterprise IT users. This is because most innovation and technologies that enable new competition to CSPs come from these areas. In other words, to survive in the world dominated by cloud players, telcos need to become cloud players, not trying to achieve parity in the services provided, but in adopting technologies and processes that enable cloud-like scale, agility, and efficiency.
The changing nature of CSP operations will also lead to changes in the way that the market for CSP-oriented vendors operates. Networks will become truly multivendor, and the shift from selling "boxes" to solutions with a significant share of value residing in software and services, will be advantageous for vendors that can demonstrate software innovation and fluency in cloud technologies, and can provide customers with support beyond the solution itself, with consultative and co-development capabilities being key in this regard.
In IDC's opinion, ZTE has built on its status as a major network equipment provider, to build a full ICT platform that incorporates cloud-native technologies while meeting the agility needs of its carrier customers. These characteristics make it particularly suited to playing an important role in digital transformation of their customers' networks and operations.