For transformation, learning is the new fitness says Telenor’s Ruza Sabanovic

Like many communications service providers (CSPs) worldwide, Telenor’s transformation journey is far from over, but rather than expect transformation to happen all at once, the company has learned to adapt to a “step-by-step” approach, according to Ruza Sabanovic, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Telenor Group, and recent addition to TM Forum’s Board of Directors.

She shared some of the company’s key transformation insights that can be applied universally, learned over the course of its digital expeditions in this video, recorded at this year’s Digital Transformation Middle East.

Below are a few key takeaways and words of wisdom from Sabanovic.

For digital transformation, learning is the new fitness

The company no longer holds fast to the all-at-once “big bang” approach, according to Sabanovic. Instead, like many of us who are understanding, adapting and improving our fitness regimes to see through our New Year resolutions, the company has learned to adopt an incremental approach as it digitally develops.

“This is what we all need to understand. It’s step by step. The steps are basically enabling us to learn. And that’s, I think, extremely important for us to understand, because learning is the new fitness, as we say.”

Self-disrupt or self-destruct

Telcos cannot be complacent in the face of a world that is quickly digitally evolving. She says “We believe that if, as we all expect, the next generation of technologies are going to basically support the [digital] modernization of both the private and public sectors and the whole industry, it has to start from ourselves.”

She added, “We need, first of all, to disrupt ourselves. We need to digitalize our value chain end-to-end, and we need to be ready to start innovating on the business model and go-to-market strategy.”

Competency is core to transformation

Sabanovic interestingly suggests that change and/or development of competencies within an organization is equally or maybe even more important than developing and innovating the business aspect. This is echoed in a recent article by the World Economic Forum, written as a part of its Annual Meeting, which states that over half of business leaders say the skills shortage is hampering digital transformation, and that businesses must widen the talent search to untapped demographics.

“The worldwide labour skills shortage is predicted to reach 4.3 million workers and roughly $450 billion in unrealized output by 2030 – and that’s in the technology, media and telecommunications sector alone,” the article said.

Telenor is striving to improve this according to Sabanovic, “We have, as well, realized the gaps and competencies we are missing and [are] systematically working across to basically close those gaps.”

Don’t hate, appreciate

Sabanovic explained that Telenor asks itself the hard questions to ensure that its collaborative approach is genuine. “We talk a lot about the collaboration, and this new 5G era is the real proof. To what extent we are true to the collaboration? And to what extent we truly are opening up?”

In addition, Sabanovic referred to a key phrase mentioned by both TM Forum CEO, Nik Willetts at Digital Transformation Middle East and Action Week, and TM Forum Chairman Dr. Steffen Roehn at Digital Transformation Asia – that companies must discard “egosystems” in favor of ecosystems.

She said that Telenor is combatting this by not seeing other telcos as competitors, but rather by seeing the industry at large as a community to share and to learn from in order to establish both gain and risk-sharing, which will ultimately benefit the entire industry.

Interested in hearing more valuable industry insights from influential speakers? Register for TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World today, which will this year be held at Copenhagen, 16-18 June 2020.

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