Firstly, I must apologize for not writing anything for a whole week, but there is good reason. I’ve been at two remarkable events and I have been talking to industry people almost non-stop in that time just trying to get a feel for where we are heading as the telecommunications industry as a whole and, more specifically, in terms of managing and maintaining revenue.

TM Forum’s Management World in Nice was a real eye-opener. The Revenue Management Summit was jam-packed with presentations from all quarters and the crowds that turned up to hear about the direction of this sector were remarkable, not only because of their presence, but also in the level of participation. The Catalyst Program featured four teams from this sector and they were literally run off their feet with people wanting to know more about issues they are also grappling with. Most summit presentations ran over time handling the number of questions from the floor, something I have not seen happen for a long time.

However, that was only the tip of the iceberg! It was the networking factor that was most amazing. The three thousand attendees seemed hell-bent an seeking out information, not only on the exciting new areas like cloud computing and new services, but also how other operators and vendors were addressing issues around generating revenues and how to ensure that existing revenue streams are not compromised.

I have always found it amazing that in the right environment, even competitors in the telco industry are happy to share their experiences with others and that vendors are approached for advice without the fear, necessarily, of becoming targeted as prospects. This is the sign of a mature industry and something that may be unique, not only to the TM Forum, but to the industry as whole.

Make no mistake, we are threatened not only by competition amongst each other for our customer dollars, but also by our own inability to adapt to the changes from outside that threaten our very survival. Only when we get together as an industry do we seem able to forget our petty differences and start viewing those threats as a united group and determine how best we can address the challenges in our own markets. If we don’t do this we could well fall victim to those disruptive technologies we know about but are not necessarily sure how to manage.

I was also asked to be part of a panel discussion at WeDo Technologies user Conference on the island of Madeira along with renowned industry journalist, Alun Lewis, Susan McNiece from Stratecast, Eric Priezkalns from TalkRA and Nick Mann from the GSMA Fraud Forum. I attend a number of similar events on behalf of the TM Forum each year and find that even though they are more relaxed than conferences, the level of networking and information sharing is much greater. It is sometimes difficult for vendors to hold such events and not fall into the habit of trying to ‘sell’ up the existing customers and impress potential new customers they invite along.

At this event, almost the opposite happened! Whilst customers were heaping credit on the hosts (there was almost a competition amongst those present about who had received the best service and who had the best implementation with one scoring points against the other). All the while, the management of WeDo was playing down the praises by stating they could always do better and that was the Portuguese way of doing things. The situation was almost surreal and I thought it may have been the effect of too much fresh Atlantic air and the copious quantities of food and Madeira wine, but it wasn’t.  It was the attention to detail that stuck in everyone’s mind. If any company can organise its user event with such meticulous attention to detail with an emphasis on making everyone comfortable and happy, then it must be a indication of how it runs its business. Brilliant.