Telecom services and products enable digital lifestyles for consumers and digital transformation for enterprises. Given that there is no digital economy without fixed line and mobile broadband, it’s somewhat counterintuitive that telecoms providers lag other industries in the digitalisation of their own processes and customer experience.
Yet research from BCG shows that only 22% of telecom companies have successfully executed a digital transformation initiative. This number is significantly below the cross-industry average of 35% and "presents real risks of declining revenue growth and disruption by digital players," according to BCG.
Even after the pandemic has made people more dependent on reliable voice and data services, the telecom industry has fallen behind the digital transformation curve. Telecoms companies in South Africa have seen their margins eroded by over-the-top (OTT) services like WhatsApp and face growing competition from hyper-scale cloud providers.
Telecoms companies face tight regulation, including pressure to bring their prices down, yet need to ramp up infrastructure investment to meet growing demand. To remain relevant in this landscape, telecoms companies need to innovate faster as well as accelerate digital transformation in their own businesses.
Smarter South African telecoms companies will be considering some of the following cutting-edge use cases in their digital transformation journeys:
- Modern working practices like DevOps and Agile: Digital transformation will change how companies operate and organise themselves. Many telecoms companies are moving away from hierarchical structures and siloed departments to more agile, collaborative structures. Telecom companies will accelerate their adoption of modern practices such as agile methodologies and DevOps in order to create a solid foundation for digital transformation.
- Digital customer experience: Leaders in telecoms will focus on improving their customer experiences via cutting edge omnichannel customer care service, chatbots and social media offerings.
- Automation of business processes: Telecoms companies will focus on automating workflows across the front-end, back-office and network infrastructure to drive cost savings.
- AI and IoT: Smarter tech like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) will enable cutting edge use cases like predictive maintenance, network optimisation and automated customer service. AI and big data will also help telecom operators to make smarter operational and strategic decisions.
- Cloud and FinOps: Most telecom operators have embarked on their journey to the cloud as part of the digital transformation strategy. This year, smarter companies will be looking at how they can drive more value from their cloud deployments and simplify operations. FinOps practices will be high on the agenda as telecoms companies look to contain cloud costs and improve business outcomes.
- Product and service innovation: 5G networks, the cloud, IoT and other digital technologies promise to open up new revenue streams for telecoms companies, allowing them to innovate and create new services and applications. From enabling e-commerce for SMBs to offering IoT solutions for fleet management, there are many ways telecoms companies can leverage their networks and data centres to drive revenue growth.
- Network virtualisation: Embracing software-defined networks gives network operators the flexibility to define virtual network functions and alignment their networks with the evolving demands of their customers.
In the years to come, digital transformation will drive significant changes in the industry and create new opportunities for companies to grow and evolve. By leveraging technologies such as 5G, AI, and cloud computing, and by reorganising their operations to be more agile and customer-centric, telecoms companies can stay competitive in an ever-changing market.
At Nebula, we innovate smarter to accelerate digital transformation. We partner with leading telecom companies in South Africa to drive growth. Get in touch to learn how our knowledgeable team helps companies with DevOps, FinOps, Cloud Security and Networking, and other aspects of digital transformation.