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TM Forum Recap: The present and future of telco digital transformation

TM Forum Recap: The present and future of telco digital transformation
Abdullah Muhsin, Senior Content Marketing Officer at Apigate

Last week, the Apigate team was part of the TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World in Nice, France. Here’s a rundown of key takeaways, hot topics, and what’s in store for telcos.

Last week, the Apigate team was part of the TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World in Nice, France. The event gathered hundreds of industry leaders who talked about the latest trends in digital transformation in the telecommunications industry.

Through a series of lectures, round tables, and campfire sessions, the 2019 edition covered topics such as digital operators, AI and data, digital customers, network transformation, and cloud-native IT.

Our team had a chance to join the conversation and help shape the path for telcos undergoing digital transformation. We also met with a number of MNO representatives and together addressed some of the key pain points and ways to overcome them.

Here’s a rundown of key takeaways, hot topics, and what’s in store for telcos.

Between the hype or reality of 5G

The arrival of 5G created by far the most buzz throughout the Forum. The opportunities that this new network improvement will bring are vast and numerous, but the jury is still out on its ultimate contribution.

Despite expectations that 5G will slash latency, amp up network speed, and allow for consumption of 4K video content without any obstacles, the lack of a substantial number of use cases is worrying.

Most operators are flocking around 5G and the opportunities it will create. But, there is a fair number of industry leaders, including Apigate, who think that the 5G alone is not the answer.

Having said that, let’s just be a bit more specific. The far-reaching 5G bandwidth will allow us to connect devices, wearables, homes, and public infrastructure to IoT and deliver interconnected services right to the end-users’ phones.

Still, we believe that telcos should not rely solely on 5G to find new revenue streams. Which brings us to one of the key messages from the Forum.

Open up resources

The Forum highlighted the benefits of operating on open APIs and the benefits of such an approach. This type of architecture allows stakeholders from different industries to use existing APIs, create new services for customers, and team up through a series of partnerships to become a reliable and innovative service provider.

This is especially interesting from the point of telcos. By utilizing their network assets telcos could — and should — morph into digitelcos. So, not just be a means to an end, but also start delivering content and services to end-users. There is a lot of potential for monetization here and telcos should be wise to seize it.

Flourish through collaboration across industries 

During the 2025 Digital Operator Panel, our CTO, Venura Mendis, underlined the significance of moving from closed proprietary architectures to more open, modular architectures.

And this year’s Forum had plenty of examples to showcase just how powerful open architectures can be. We had a chance to see a number of partnerships between various industry players who came together and offered successful solutions to customers. As part of the Catalysts projects, telcos partnered with stakeholders in gaming, healthcare, and smart cities to deliver user-friendly, robust services that really do make a change.

And for all telcos looking to find new revenue streams, we suggest following in their footsteps. Change the paradigm and combine assets with other industries — there are plenty of untapped streams here that allow not just to deliver great customer experience but to monetize on it smartly.

Digital transformation

One of the conclusions of this year’s Forum is that digital transformation for telcos is well underway. To ensure a successful transition from a mobile operator to a digital operator, telcos should keep several things in mind.

First, successful digital transformation should be about customers, not technology.

Second, digital transformation should be inclusive and available to everyone.

Finally, telcos need more collaboration. They should find partners across industries and close the gaps together. That’s the only way everyone benefits — customers, telcos, and service providers.

That’s all from this year’s TM Forum. 

Next stop:

TM Forum Digital Transformation Asia, 12-14 November in Kuala Lumpur. Let's connect there!

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