Success in the communications services sector is indeed a capricious piece of cheese. In it, every new technology advancement brings new business models, new security and sociopolitical debates, brand-new industries of disruptors, and even new job roles for man and machine. As new technologies mature, the distinction between technology, media, and telecommunications industries blur. Navigating this space to sustain growth and competitive edge is no easy task for the CxO. Decision makers need to wear many hats to be successful — that of a technologist, financial analyst, investment visionary, and even showman.

If you are an infrastructure and operations professional, the challenge is multidimensional. You are called upon to address some of the most important trends and technology progressions ever made and implement them effectively into the core functioning of your organization. The advent of telecom technologies, software-enabled everything, new media, and others are just the tips of icebergs that usher in multiple layers of possibilities to your operations.

The recently evolved communications services sector has cast some view on this evolving structure. In September 2018, MSCI expanded the telecommunication services sector of its market-defining Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) to include companies from the consumer discretionary and information technology sectors, renaming it communication services. This means home entertainment software companies such as Electronics Arts, social media and search companies such as Facebook and Google, and entertainment companies such as Netflix and Disney are all in the same boat now as AT&T and Verizon.

Suddenly the good, the bad, the ugly, the bully, the legends, and the hungry neighborhood teenagers are all aiming for the same pie. Further, with software eating into every sector, each player is also hoping to gain muscle for the future by fishing into the same talent pool at the same time.

And these changes affect all dimensions of your organization:

  1. Communications and network infrastructure. With the looming 5G-enabled use cases, software-defined everything, cloud and subscription models, data center, and colocation technologies, how can you stay practical and capitalize on what is most important for your growth and health? What are the most relevant technologies for you to invest in immediately? What guidance should you seek from your network partners?
  2. Thinking software. Software is the key enabler of many new advancements, including in networks. Whether you are a software producer or consumer, or whether you are enabled by software to run your business, important operational decisions are key — such as make-vs.-buy decisions, pricing models, or simply the right tools for internal operations.
  3. Design for security. As security takes center stage now in every technology decision, security can no longer be treated as an afterthought. It is no surprise that Forrester’s latest security survey research found that the most valuable partners in security for large and medium enterprises are no longer just pure-play security companies — they are IBM, Cisco, and Amazon, among others.
  4. Partnerships and alliances. Alone, no one will go far in this merged sector. Specifically, for emerging technologies such as edge, 5G, cloud adoption, or even bringing analytics capabilities to your organization, how would you think of the most strategic partnerships?
  5. Talent. Simply put, if you are heading the I&O team of a large legacy organization, how can you tap into the top graduates from the nation’s best technology schools who are gravitating toward working for unicorns such as Facebook or Google instead?
  6. Organization, benchmarks, and KPIs. With new-age organizational models, how do you best organize your teams? How do you optimize spending? How will you measure success?
  7. Economic downturn. The economy has been healthy, wealthy, and wise for a while now. But how can we brace ourselves wisely for the next downturn? What are the implications on the CIO?

Together with the infrastructure and operations team at Forrester, I will be researching deeply into these topics and beyond to help our clients lead change.

Watch this space!