Commercial Innovation

Rakuten Symphony addresses the outdated commercial structures and processes that prevent the transition to a truly modern telco.

Progress requires change to commercial relationships as well, from procurement practice to transparency expectations to new business models and relationships.

The RFP model of procurement has for a long time not been fit for purpose. To reference 2019 industry research by TM Forum:

New industry research by TM Forum shows 30-year-old procurement practices increase costs, decrease innovation and slow down business agility.

Most of the 300 CSPs and vendor participants agree that current RFP processes are not fit for the coming decade of digital transformation.

Recommendations include leveraging proof-of-concepts, embracing agile methodology, and decentralization and digitization of the procurement process.

Starting in 2018, Rakuten Mobile realized the traditional RFP procurement practice was not fit for purpose and replaced it with a partnership, rapid trial to scale model. Using this model, Rakuten Mobile now works with over 50 different suppliers, which does not create an obstacle to scaling, since all are managed through software interfaces and platform management.

In a conventional telco RFP process, the issuer over-lists all possible wanted features in case they might be useful and the suppliers reply with over compliance to maximize the chance of winning. The process takes months to years and the end result is no clearer understanding of ability to meet real needed outcomes and goals. It is a false horizon of progress. It also forces component level comparisons rather than system level possibilities. Incumbent suppliers use the RFP process as weapon to discourage change and innovation. Technical architectures have led to organizational architectures that have led to similar siloed procurement practices.

Rather than engaging at the RFP level, Rakuten Symphony focuses on the business outcomes an operator needs. This fosters a much more productive, collaborative and faster process than with the conventional approach.

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