Accelerating the digital transformation journey in the telecommunications space
Remote working, e-learning, and physical distancing have become the buzzwords in the present business landscape, and digitization is the driving force that is propelling this radical change.Updated: Oct 26, 2020, 14:30 IST
Thedigital transformation has pushed the hard-reset button for businesses across industrial sectors, and the telecommunications sector is no exception to this phenomenon. Remote working, e-learning, and physical distancing have become the buzzwords in the present business landscape, and digitization is the driving force that is propelling this radical change.
In the mobile-first world of today, these changes in the business environment have led to a paradigm shift in consumption patterns. It has specifically led to an increase in the consumption of OTT services, telemedicine, digital learning etc. – services that have become an integral part of an ‘always on’ digital lifestyle.
According to a recent report from TRAI, there were 1157.75 million wireless subscribers in India as of March 31, 2020. This presents a vast potential for telecom service providers to shift from traditional service delivery to a more customer centric. Towards this end, service providers need to accelerate digital transformation and adopt cloud-based solutions to improve workflows and transform their workforce.
Why digital transformation is a need of the hour?
According to the recent Ericsson Mobility Report, mobile broadband technologies accounted for 58% of mobile subscriptions in 2019, and this figure is predicted to reach 82% by 2025. Hence, customer experience and technology supremacy are at the epicenter of digital transformation for the telecom sector.
In order to remodel the sector into a cost-effective, agile, customer-centric environment, it is imperative to bring in advanced digital innovations across diverse areas.
With the use of connected devices – such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. – witnessing a steady upswing, consumers of telecom services are preferring to engage with service providers digitally, leading to a shift from physical stores towards digital engagement channels.
This is driving businesses to replace legacy software with digitally managed software, which can offer greater possibilities for automating processes. As a result, existing legacy software systems, such as billing, CRM, order handling, are being transformed. Another reason for the shift to digital is that technology-backed systems with in-built ‘self-healing’ algorithms can protect and repair any technical abnormalities within the software, thereby leading to minimal down-time and requiring less human involvement.
Taking that thought further, companies are now considering doing away with datacenters as they migrate to the cloud. Maintaining a robust on-premise datacenter entails regular assessment, upgradation, and replacement of software, as well as hardware by telecom operators.
As companies modernize, automate, and digitize operations, they will be able to bring new services to market faster; offer innovatively priced plans; and increase the pace of collections. This will directly impact their customer acquisition and retention, as a result of improved quality of service and an enhanced customer experience.
Drawing the roadmap for digital transformation
The adage ‘different strokes for different folks’ holds true for the telecom sector. Some see digital transformation as a new technology challenge, others as a new business opportunity, and still others who peg it as a cultural makeover. While digital transformation is an amalgamation of all of these, it is also much more.
In order to facilitate a seamless digital makeover, the first step is to lay down a well-defined digital transformation roadmap. This involves strategic considerations, such as whether to first migrate from on-premise datacenter to cloud, or to first replace legacy software with the latest digital systems; and if the software can be shifted in stages and so on.
The management then needs to strike a balance between revenue-generating options and modernization of systems. In the telecom space, operators are facing challenges due to the surge in the usage of OTT for voice calls and messaging, job cuts due to impact from pandemic, etc., which have contributed to declining revenue streams. Thus, they need to weigh in the options of investing in digitization strategies or other revenue-generating business, such as driving 5G adoption.
There also needs to be a shift in focus from traditional software development and implementation processes, which are often time-consuming and can turn redundant in an ever-evolving telecom space. Therefore, it is essential to shift the mindset of both vendors and operators to finding a Minimal Viable Solution (MVS) within a short span of time to maximize value.
As the companies evolve, so must their employees. Hence, it is necessary to continuously re-evaluate existing training and development modules to ensure that the employee base is provided training opportunities in a fast-changing technology environment.
How to design a framework for digital transformation
In order to deliver change by successfully achieving the organizational goals as well as creating significant value for its customers, it is vital to ensure that processes are streamlined and structured.
One way to do this is to identify the pain points in the existing software stacks, such as integrating diversified products and services across different types of subscribers. This should be followed by understanding the scope of digitization of customer acquisition and retention as well as interconnecting the digital channels of the company to provide a single, user-friendly customer experience.
Building strategies based on different lines of business to ensure a hassle-free migration to cloud and integration of new digital software stacks can provide some direction – and so can engaging with software service providers/vendors who play a critical role in a business’ digital transformation journey by designing a viable strategy.
As we look ahead
The customer is the nucleus of the telecom industry. Therefore, the success of digital transformation lies in creating a compelling digital experience for consumers, while also achieving the organizational goals of business efficacy, agility, and profitability. Going forward, telecom service operators will need to reimagine customer experience and assess their digital transformation strategy in the light of ever-evolving modern technologies. Improvements in business agility will not just enable service providers to achieve operational efficiencies, but also secure long-term brand loyalty of their customers.
(The author is Samit Banerjee, Division President at Amdocs. Views expressed are personal)