Re-skilling the workforce to accelerate change: Insights from Amdocs’ Anthony Goonetilleke

Re-skilling the workforce to accelerate change: Insights from Amdocs’ Anthony Goonetilleke
Anthony Goonetilleke
Anthony Goonetilleke, group president, Media, Network and Technology, and finalist of TM Forum’s ‘CTO of the Year” Excellence Award 2019

This article originally appeared on TM Forum.

How would you describe your organization’s enterprise-wide digital transformation strategy? 

Our changes have really been quite extensive – ranging from adopting open-source technology in our product development processes, to significantly contributing to industry open-source consortiums; from leveraging AI in our global-support functions, to changing the way we work by adopting DevSecOps methodologies. And this approach fits with the reality of digital transformation today, which is that it’s continuous, rather than a final destination – it’s an ongoing daily journey of producing seamless work-life experiences that are digital, intelligent and automated.

What targets does your organization have to guide this strategy?

Each unit of the business maintains its own measures of success based on its business imperatives, but generally speaking, we measure our progress by the velocity of value we deliver – that is, whether we’re able to deliver cutting-edge, flexible and cost-effective capabilities to our communications and media customers. For example, one way that we have accelerated our organization’s transformation is by re-skilling the workforce in key technology domains like microservices, cloud and more. Even the training tools we use are changing – in the past, a new skill would be obtained by attending a week-long course but today, we have partnerships with disruptive companies such as Udacity who provides Nanodegree programs. The ability of our people to continuously learn and adapt is the new currency for success.

What’s the biggest ‘win’ you’ve achieved so far? 

A few years ago, we decided to take a major leap and re-platform our suite of products to a microservices-based, cloud-native architecture that delivered a re-imagined customer experience.  Since releasing it to the market, we’ve received amazing feedback and acknowledgement –  both from customers and analysts – of our best-in-class architecture that forms the basis of our customers’ future experiences.  To us at Amdocs, this is why we wake up in the morning!

 

How does TM Forum help you to achieve your digital transformation objectives? 

 

We’ve worked very closely with TM Forum on a number of initiatives that have supported our evolution including the Application Framework (TAM) for microservices, the Open API standards program, the AI Maturity Model workstream and the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Board, as well as additional Catalyst programs. These initiatives have provided meaningful insights to our continued digital evolution, and I think working with the Forum to drive standardization across the industry benefits us all – end customers, service providers and vendors alike.

In our recent research, we asked CSPs to rank the challenges to converging networks and operations. They cited culture first. Why is it such a challenge, what are the cultural challenges, and what can operators do to address this change? 

I recently hosted a panel at Mobile World Congress with CTOs from leading global operators about what keeps them up at night, and in the end, all of these CTOs identified culture as a primary challenge. Beyond the blurring lines of IT and network organizations, we’re constantly evolving in terms of talent and skillsets, injecting intelligence and automation into the workforce, and accelerating the pace of change more broadly. And yes, this constant change creates opportunities, but it also requires our teams to shift their mindsets, adopt a continuous learning mentality and own their own development – and that’s not an easy challenge for any organization.  In my mind, operators are responsible for opening the door – providing tools, managerial support in terms of time allocation, adopting the latest platforms, etc. and creating an environment that fosters this change.  Not all will make the journey, but this is the circle of life.

How is the convergence of networks and IT affecting the relationship between CSPs and suppliers?  

This is a something I’m very passionate about.  We live in a software world today – it’s basically “software-driven everything” – and as the network becomes virtualized, we will drive large-scale cost efficiencies and a rate of innovation through the backbone and control planes of our networks that the industry hasn’t seen for decades. So I think that at the end of the day, those responsible for technology should maintain an end-to-end view beginning with the first consumer interaction, all the way to the final provisioning of a piece of data on a device or premise.  And suppliers should be thinking holistically about how purchase decisions influence provisioning criteria because for a system to be truly digital, the entire process must be seamless and intelligent.

A diverse workforce is defined as one that is made up of individuals with a wide range of characteristics and experiences, such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, ability and sexual orientation. What are the biggest challenges your company faces in promoting diversity and what initiatives does it have to become a more diverse and inclusive workforce? 

I think our main challenge is one that is shared by many in the tech/IT industry; gender diversity.  While our percentage of female representation at key levels is better than the industry norm, we run many programs to encourage continued progress, including Inspire, our women-in-leadership program. Starting at the ground level, we’ve found that running awareness campaigns, identifying both male and female employee ambassadors, and holding global sessions with leadership are effective tools to facilitate progress.  I think a truly successful organization is a diverse organization –  and it’s not just a metric for social good, it’s a metric we need to improve on to be successful in the business world.

As a leader, what are you doing on a daily basis to address diversity? 

As the founder of our Inspire program, I’ve taken care to adopt practices that encourage a diverse culture – things like re-writing job descriptions to appeal to female candidates, setting goals for recruitment of age and gender-diverse talent, hosting ‘Gen Z’ information sessions, and more. And of course, it’s important to practice what you preach – within my own organizations, I encourage diverse thinking and representation in meetings, programs that are intentional in their goals, and collaboration across business domains and expertise. I believe that addressing diversity should be a core principle, and not a company initiative intended to ‘tick the box’.

In terms of the wider societal impact of digitization, what are you looking forward to over the next decade? 

I think the potential for digitization to create surprising, new, seamless experiences is really exciting. Key technological advances such as low latency, together with high speed 5G services, the changes around eSIM (another hardware to software move), edge computing disrupting the eGaming industry, advances in AI/machine learning and the heterogeneous cloud – these are all fundamental building blocks that enable ‘creators’ to go crazy… so I look forward to disruptive business models underpinned by an array of leading edge technologies. Bring them on!

In terms of the wider societal impact of digitization, what concerns you? 

We’re seeing a massive shift in behavior, generation by generation.  The positive effect of this shift is the ‘borderless’ reality that younger consumers are living in today – no geographical limits, no cultural limits, etc. – all due to pervasive global connectivity. If I have to highlight a concern, it’s that the accelerated pace of change will render the education that younger people are going through today less relevant – particularly from a skills and tools perspective –  by the time they’re actively contributing to the workforce. In some ways, our education system has not changed in a century and re-thinking this is something that is long overdue.

 

 

Summary

Anthony Goonetilleke, group president, Media, Network and Technology, and finalist for TM Forum’s ‘CTO of the Year’ Excellence Award 2019, highlights the importance of re-skilling the workforce in key technology domains and fostering a diverse workforce to contribute to organizational success.

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Summary

Anthony Goonetilleke, group president, Media, Network and Technology, and finalist for TM Forum’s ‘CTO of the Year’ Excellence Award 2019, highlights the importance of re-skilling the workforce in key technology domains and fostering a diverse workforce to contribute to organizational success.

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