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Digital transformation has arisen following the emergence of technologies that drive our world forward through cutting-edge solutions and enhanced efficiency and productivity. The telecommunications industry has tremendously progressed since the days of wired handsets and limited communication features. Telecom networks have undergone a mind-blowing transformation to meet the ever growing demand on data. Today, businesses have to make a choice: either adopt new strategies or lag behind.

Some trends have and are still disrupting the telecommunications industry. They have revolutionized established value chains and business models as we know them while also offering untraditional growth prospects and new opportunities that may have not been accessible a few years ago.

Winning the digital bet

For telcos to succeed in achieving digital transformation, they have to touch every single aspect of their business. The starting point has to be customer relationship. Telcos need to overcome slow design processes, limited customer input and legacy IT systems in order to have an effective customer relationship system. The latter aims to reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction and boost brand differentiation.

Telcos should be able to respond to increasing customer demand by improving their responsiveness through putting in place flexible approaches and accelerating processing. They can start off with basic services then develop new solutions that can be proved efficient and advantageous.

Considering moving into adjacent businesses can also be an option to seize new opportunities and generate new revenue streams. Some companies have already undergone R&D to create new services, mainly digital. Diversifying digital services’ portfolio can be an essential element in telcos’ new strategies. Their portfolio should expand to include new digital services addressing vertical markets and capable of generating high revenue and growth. In this context, partnerships with third parties can be very helpful for telcos to build an improved digital portfolio.

However, they should not neglect their existing assets. Instead, they can learn how to leverage them to drive additional value and enhance their competitive advantages. New digital services can complement existing services that can be further developed and improved to serve the company’s digital transformation.

Every consumer aspires for high speed connectivity and throughput. Achieving the latter requires investment in telecom network enhancements such as fiber and 5G in order to meet the needs of consumers and to prepare for more dynamic and competitive environments. Telcos’ infrastructure has to evolve from traditional and expensive to virtualized and cloud-based, thus the importance of network functions virtualization and software-defined networking (NFV/SDN) models.

On another note, adapting to the ongoing transformation includes strengthening security protection. Telcos’ strategies should encompass a wide security transformation process covering the technologies, data, services, consumers and partners. Knowing the high risk of security breaches and cyberattacks presented by the adoption of new technologies, security measures appear to be a prerequisite.

This leads us to the importance of data. Currently, the whole telecommunications industry is data-centric; therefore, defining a clear approach for data collection, analysis, distribution, security and monetization is crucial, notably with the increase of data traffic. Telcos have to be aware of the importance of applying new ways to understand and exploit data. Analytics can help them to reduce customer churn, make better marketing-spend decisions, improve collections and optimize network design.

Blockchain has also had its effect on companies due to the fact that it could change the way they do business. It is expected to alter the way communication service providers (CSPs) manage their business models and even create new types of models in order to provide higher profits.

Building capabilities

Succeeding in the shift towards digital services goes hand in hand with the reinforcement of talents and capabilities. Telcos have to invest more in building human capacities so that they’ll be able to keep pace with the ongoing evolution. Training employees on the use of new technologies and on how to adapt to the transformation is crucial. They should be able to deploy adopted solutions and applications in order to actually implement the company’s new strategy.

However, reinforcing capacities requires a collective effort from companies, government and academia in order to inform and train the current generations on the newest technological and to raise a future generation capable of continuing on the same path.

IoT: An important pillar

It is no surprise that IoT has to be now a part of every telco’s strategy, given the technology’s ability to improve services, boost productivity, create new products, accelerate operations and increase revenues. However, challenges are yet to be overcome.

A gap still exists in terms of the way businesses use data provided thanks to IoT – mainly behavior predicting data. In addition, they still find it difficult to manage and analyze data and still haven’t integrated the technology in their activities.

That is why in order to benefit from IoT’s revolutionary impact, telcos have to embrace the technology and acknowledge the opportunity it presents when it comes to optimizing daily tasks. Partnerships with IoT specialists appears to be a great start for telcos aspiring to get closer to a full transformation.

Change is a necessity now. Telcos have to be aware of how urgent it is to adopt new strategies that involve more digital and less traditional. Systems, processes, data management, skills and culture should be altered in order to embrace digital transformation that will only happen for telcos willing to undertake this change.

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