Prophetic signals promoting the need for MxO (Mobile Network Operators, Multiple System Operators, Communication Service Providers) leadership to transform all facets of organizational culture are not new. Many organizations had the visionary fortitude to attempt the transformation toward an Information Communications Technology (ICT) driven organization a decade ago – including Canadian MNO SaskTel, led by John Hill (former CIO) and Ron Styles (former CEO). However, while once visionary, such transformation is now imperative to the very survival of MxOs large and small over the decade to come.
Fortunately for MxO leadership, the breadcrumb trails for transformational success are now well worn. Many models and patterns are proven and documented for all levels of this journey. This includes strategic, tactical and operational execution as penned in “Ask Your Developer”, Jeff Lawson, CEO & co-founder, Twilio; “Working Backwards”, Colin Bryar & Bill Carr, Amazon and “Zero to One”, Peter Thiel. MxO leaders do not need to re-invent anything here. There are many partner-driven Information Technology organizations offering “phone a friend” assistance at all levels, with deep experience on how to execute such a transformation. However, it is up to those organizational leaders to take the first step in this journey.
Taking a crawl, walk, run approach is recommended. Transformation is hard, and a cultural transformation is much more difficult than the required technology transformation that will go hand in hand with this effort. If we are all honest about natural strengths and weaknesses, then years of time and tens of millions of dollars in precious capital can be put to better use in the name of customer love, over network love. Below is a guide to implementing this approach for MxOs, outlining the crucial steps to successfully evolve within the industry.
Crawl In this phase, the MxO will rely heavily on external partners to expedite the transformation. Many large IT and Hyperscaler partners have been forced to undergo a similar journey moving from license to subscription based goods and services. As such, they know this transition is hard. They also know what to do. Working with partners in a shared risk model monitored by measurable outcomes that are rooted in business value is recommended. This will include open collaboration on sales motion, product definition, operations and support. At a minimum, allowing partners in and offering them an opportunity to “take the wheel” for sales and operations will pay massive dividends.
Walk At this point, the evolution of the MxO should be well underway with measurable adoption of partner-driven “lessons learned” in product, operations and support. Upgraded organizational metrics weighted much more heavily toward Net Promoter Score (NPS) and driven by “customer love” should take priority over the technology driven 9s metrics rooted in “network love”. Additionally, the operational transformation should force a pivot from manual processes to operations that rely on automation, predictive analysis and shared operational risk with IT and Hyperscaler partners.
Run Years, admittedly, will be required to get to this phase. However, you made it. You’re here. Staff at all levels are measured and compensated appropriately based on the success of both consumer and Enterprise subscribers that are driving demonstrated need and adoption of 5G. The MxO should now be able to pull back but not eliminate partners in remaining functions such as sales. MxO staff will have achieved full Trusted Advisor status with subscribers, and the MxO will remain in the driver’s seat continuing to own the customer relationship for years to come.
It's up to MxOs
Remember, evolution is optional. That’s why we have extinction in both the natural and business world. Empowering developers and partners with an open, API driven approach will allow consumer and Enterprise subscribers to finally achieve a “Your network, your way” experience. And ultimately, fostering this new breed of subscriber experience as described by Lawson, Bryar & Carr, Thiel and others will be the key to sustained MxO success. All the technology investments imaginable are useless if MxO culture is not transformed top to bottom along the journey.