While the telecom industry provides the infrastructure that is moving the global digital revolution forward, the industry as it stands now is headed toward a point of revenue stagnation. By 2020, traditional telecom companies are predicted to see only 0.7 per cent growth for CSPs worldwide. While these statistics are merely forecasts, changing the future is only possible if CSPs identify what has caused the drastic downturn in their business.
Operators are often large, complex organisations that have been in business for many years, making it difficult to inspire substantial change. When asked to list obstacles to digital transformation success, 65 per cent of telecom executives cited legacy IT systems, while just over half reported a lack of digital expertise. However, these factors can be overcome, and far too many CSPs are currently preventing their companies from capitalising on digital strategies.
How can the telecom industry reverse course? Here are three ways that CSPs can drive revenue in the digital economy:
Pay attention to SMBs
While SMBs have historically been hesitant to adopt new technology, today many are eager to dive into digital services with the proper assistance. Nearly every SMB in the United States has launched at least one cloud service, with market penetration reaching 94 per cent by the end of 2017. While digital services are a natural fit for SMBs, these organisations often lack the time and resources required to invest in technology deployments or an IT staff to support them. As the number of cloud services continues to grow, many SMBs feel overwhelmed by the volume of digital applications available in the market, and need help navigating their options.
Only one in five SMBs claim they are satisfied that they have all the support they need from their digital
services. There is a tremendous opportunity for CSPs to take on roles as trusted digital technology providers to their SMB customers by providing on-demand digital software. Coupling this offering with a stellar customer experience will help CSPs differentiate themselves to SMB customers and open up new revenue streams.
As connectivity providers, CSPs are uniquely positioned to play a critical role in the industrial IoT (IIoT) revolution. While IoT is often associated with smart speakers, fitness trackers, and other connected consumer devices, there is also great potential for IoT innovation in industrial applications. The manufacturing industry currently dominates IoT network connections, showing 84 per cent growth in 2017 alone. For the telecom market, operators are well-equipped to provide the infrastructure and connectivity to power billions of IIoT sensors and digital applications. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that increasing IIoT demands on bandwidth and data usage will be so high that it could generate $65 billion for CSPs.
While the market has shown that relying on connectivity alone can lead operators to commoditisation, CSPs should strive to differentiate their IIoT offerings with implementation, management, and other professional services. A large majority of companies today need help deploying complex hardware and software solutions across multiple sites. If implemented effectively, these services are expected to drive an additional $75 billion for operators, surpassing the value of the bandwidth itself. While manufacturing may seem to lie far beyond most telecom operators’ expertise, IIoT offers immense opportunity for CSPs that are looking to drive innovation and set themselves apart in the digital economy.
Enhance customer experience
It is widely known that the telecom industry has a poor reputation when it comes to delivering satisfactory customer service. Today’s digitally savvy customers have higher expectations than ever before, demanding quality and seamless interactions across every touchpoint.
There are several elements that can help telecom companies improve customer experience and increase retention:
- Contextualise touchpoints: Both B2B and B2C customers expect personalised experiences that cater to their unique needs, such as dynamic product or content recommendations based on past purchases or browsing history. CSPs must implement the right digital tools to follow customers across their purchasing lifecycle and make relevant recommendations along the way.
- Onboarding and training: Following a purchase, customers often need support setting up a new digital service. Forms of guidance can be a simple phone call, or an ongoing series of training sessions providing customers with tips on how to effectively use their new technology.
- Omnichannel strategies: CSP customers go from device to device without pause, and they expect a product experience that is seamless across different environments. For example, if customers start researching a product on a desktop computer, they should be able to switch to a provider’s mobile app to complete the transaction. Customers also demand payment and delivery options that are fast and easy to navigate.
Create a Profit-Growing Future
Instead of shying away from the new opportunities introduced by the digital economy, CSPs must realise that meeting customer demand is critical to driving revenue. In an industry ripe with potential for innovation, it’s time to rethink your approach to digital services.
Dan Saks, President and Co-CEO, AppDirect
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