The ROADS experience: embracing digital transformation with an open view

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Advances in ICT technologies are blurring the boundary between the physical and digital worlds. This has impacts far beyond computing and communications technology; it affects and shapes how we live and think. For business, it’s clear that companies able to leverage this digital transformation will have a competitive advantage and achieve long-term success.

Dr. Howard Liang 490x372
Dr. Howard Liang: Senior vice president of Huawei and chairman of Open ROADS Community

According to a 2015 user experience survey, more than 49% of respondents believed that online shopping delivers the best user experience compared with other industries such as radio, TV, telecommunications and media. The reason online shopping stands out is because it can best satisfy the five dimensions of user experience, i.e. Real-time, On-Demand, All-online, DIY, and Social (ROADS) at the same time. Satisfying these five dimensions is why online shopping has emerged as the “most preferred” option among the available industries. Nevertheless, this research is alarming for operators as it means new pressure and challenges for their businesses. Telcos facing demand for the ROADS experience are looking to digital transformation as the ultimate goal for both operators and solutions providers.

Huawei’s challenge is to demonstrate how an operator can successfully deliver the ROADS experience for end-users such as individuals, families and enterprises. At the same time, Huawei needs to develop a roadmap for helping operators navigate digital transformation, showing how it can be achieved systematically when aiming to deliver the ROADS experience.

Improving user experience and satisfying user demands in a timely manner has become the driving force for Telcos in managing digital transformation. Operators must be able to understand end-user demands and customer experience by using an outside-in approach. By leveraging this as measurable metrics, they can transform their operating models and overhaul their legacy infrastructure more easily.

From the operator’s perspective, the driving force for digital transformation is to be able to quickly provide users with their favourite services, and the ROADS experience should set the standard for service in the consumption process – “purchasing-using-sharing”. A paradigm shift in their business operations and applications will mean fundamental changes for operators in their operating models and enabling platforms for ICT resources and business. At the same time, ICT infrastructure will need to adapt to changes in operations, migration to software-defined networking, virtualisation, data-centre cloudification and ultra-broadband. All of this aims to provide real-time, flexible, and scalable ICT resources for enterprises. 

The process of implementing the ROADS experience for end-users does not happen overnight, nor will reconfiguration of operations and infrastructure. Implementation and optimisation takes place via the accumulated learning of each customer experience and changes in operations and infrastructure. 

To create the necessary guidance and improve the operability of the concept, Huawei took the initiative to establish the Open ROADS Community in 2016. We brought operators, solution providers, industry opinion leaders and analyst firms together and explored the future direction of digital transformation and user behaviour. We helped facilitate expert opinion exchanges and alignment of the ecosystem, so as to achieve our common goals. 

At the first Open ROADS Community gathering in Singapore, 40 leading industry voices came together to discuss a wide range of pressing industry issues. The group discussed the challenges that the industry had yet to adequately address: the lack of defined objectives, consensus on methodology, frameworks to guide transformation, guidance and roadmap on evolution and the inability to assess the outcomes of existing digital transformation.

After fruitful discussions, three business taskforces were established: Universal Customer View, Service Landscape, and Master Digital Framework, all of which were interconnected. Universal Customer View aims to improve understanding of customer demands, while Service Landscape will re-define how best to meet those demands. The Master Digital Framework group is tasked with defining the business and ICT framework, identifying and closing gaps in business capabilities, activating new businesses and the ROADS experience, while optimising return on investment for operators.

Conference participants envisioned new ecosystems for delivering customer experience, Omni-channel management, operations management, data analysis and SDN/NFV. Based on the specific needs of each industry, the best solutions providers together with industry-promoting associations and partnerships will join forces to prepare the ecosystems needed to ensure success. 

From concept to implementation, the Open ROADS Community will play the role of an ICT transformation incubator. For operators, the Community shares best practices, while offering the fundamental structures and operating models required for enterprises. The Community also strives to assist operators in completing their ICT transformation journeys and operations’ digitalisation. 

Recently, Huawei and HKT signed a letter of intent to create a strategic partnership in order to resolve customer challenges over the next five years. The partnership is an outcome of the research of the Open ROADS Community and learning experiences from other project implementations.

With a goal to promote openness for the public good, the Open ROADS Community advocates that all parties in the ecosystem collaborate more closely together:

Promotion of industry openness: 

The ROADS experience is applicable to various industries. Collaboration across industries is a key driver in order to deliver a better user experience for all end users.

At the Singapore Conference, a great deal was learned from one of the participants, Grab, a travel tools and reservation services provider. While most companies are still using GPS data to predict location-based changes in market demand and supply, Grab is taking the lead in providing similar free data from its vehicle fleet to Open Traffic, a company under the World Bank. Thanks to open attitudes like this, data can increasingly be used to bring the progress of digitalisation to a wider range of industries to solve more underlying problems in society.

Openness to partners in the ecosystem: 

The establishment of an ecosystem creates value and opportunities for all the participating businesses. Experience tells us that by sharing capabilities via APIs with partners in the telecommunications market for example, more new, innovative and valuable services are created. Such services would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement outside of an ecosystem context.

Openness to industrial organisations: 

To promote industry development, trade associations such as GSMA, TM Forum, The Open Group as well as the Open ROADS Community can together play an important role in promoting broader industry consensus on digital transformation.

Openness to cloud laboratories for innovative incubation and validation: 

The objective of the Open ROADS Community is to incubate best practices. To meet this end, Huawei is committed to opening up cloud laboratory resources for validation of Open ROADS Community projects. We believe in keeping our minds open to future possibilities – Huawei hopes that service providers will be able to open up their production environments for project validation and implementation.

Driving demand for the ROADS experience are the digital natives of the millennial generation. They represent a massive market segment on the rise, but even within their demographic there are huge discrepancies with ages ranging from 19 to 35. Consider the range of income levels, consumer behaviour, preferences for communication, and content consumption across that demographic. 

A comprehensive understanding of consumer needs should be the basis which operators use to drive their digital transformation and optimise their operating models, as well as to reengineer their infrastructures and resources. 

It’s difficult to imagine how digitalisation and ICT technologies will shape our world. But we believe that by continually improving users’ ROADS experience, improving service delivery response, transforming operations and infrastructure, and adopting a more open-minded approach, we can create a better connected world.