It’s strange to think that although the Telecoms industry fuels the digisphere, for the most part, they do not derive value from it.
However, McKinsey reported that digitization could increase teleco profits by 35%, but that the average global improvement rate is a mere 9%.
In order to thrive in this new digital culture when voice and text are rapidly losing their appeal, there are two primary areas Telecoms must turn the spotlight towards:
- Staying relevant, and
- Customer retention.
Everything else is secondary.
Staying relevant and retaining customers through the customer experience, is where digitization has the potential for a striking impact.
It is data analytics that must drive the nucleus.
For example, data shows that in South Africa, ¾ people access the internet via mobile. Therefore, Telecoms must work on customer-facing processes to enhance the journey via mobile specifically.
In this article, we’ll examine how Telecoms (or any industry for that matter) can stay relevant and improve the customer experience with digitization.
Digital transformation in telecommunications
In 159 years, South Africa went from installing its first telegraph wire to 1 Gbps optical fibre.
Mybroadband recorded the major milestones of Telecoms from 1859 to the present day; in summary:
1859: South Africa gets its first telegraph.
1878: Using a point-to-point network, SA’s first telephones are installed in Cape Town.
1910: Radio communications used for the first time.
1934: Telex exchange installed.
1960: Satellite connection created.
1974: The Post Office is the first to transmit data at 40,800 bps.
1984: SA gets its first 140 Mbps optical fibre line system.
2002: ADSL is launched by Telkom.
Today, the bigger service providers have already introduced new attractive services to their customers, all of which have required infrastructure modifications.
Vodacom and MTN embraced dedicated digital teams to accelerate the growth and development of their offerings, while Telkom joined forces with BCX.
The goal? Become end-to-end ICT and digital solutions providers.
How digitization plays a role in telecommunications
Digitization is driven by new technologies and has reshaped customer expectations and how users live and work.
The evolvement of telecommunications all the way from the 1860s to the 2000s has always been driven by a technological model, up until this point. Today, it needs to transform from a technology model to a customer experience model.
Image Credit: Ericsson
The new model requires shifting away from simple, outdated communication services delivery to powering customers’ digital lifestyles.
As users interact with telecommunication operators through email, voice, website, social media, or other channels, Telcos will need to leverage analytics to improve their offerings based on customer behaviour in order to maintain relevance.
How digitization and telecommunications link up
Telecommunication operators drive digitization into people’s lives and work, but for the most part, stall in using it to drive enhancements into their own core services or operational processes.
Since 86% of people are willing to pay more for enhanced customer experience in this era, the focus of all organisations, including Telcos, should be customer engagement on omni-channel, self-service and segment targeted marketing.
Telcos have all the data they need to make radical service improvements; they just need a way of extracting and acting on it, by developing strategies or new offerings around:
- Products, services and current processes that either make the daily life of the digital consumer easier or more pleasurable.
- Upgrading customer touchpoint processes to make it easier for the user, and beyond that, to delight.
- Out of the box innovation, to enhance customer experience across all channels.
The future of digitization and telecommunications
In a study by Frost and Sullivan, it was found that South African telecommunication companies are just getting started with digitization, especially in comparison to the progress of more developed industries.
This stance is at odds because unlike the progressive industries, Telcos boast the very data which is not only essential for digitization but also ripe for monetization. When data analysis is tethered to trends or customer experience, digitization is born.
Trending areas for Telecoms digitization that impacts customer experience include:
- Innovation around additional business functions like edge computing and real-time business analytics
- Growth in fibre, IoT, cloud, networks, automation
- Self-managed network functionality
- Key network capabilities (speed, latency, security and so on)
- Digital services that support new devices
- 4G and the pathway towards 5G
Image Credit: Ericsson
The difficulty for Telcos around digitization and the customer experience is lack of expertise around CX; the people who work for this technology-focused industry generally keep their focus on technology which is their core speciality. However, to enhance the customer experience, they may need to hire an experienced outsider to drive changes.
In addition, it is the CEO who unwittingly ensures the success of digitization in every organisation and across every industry.