New culture, new opportunity

November 14, 2019 - Martin Morgan

Consumer research highlights opportunities for upselling digital services.

When it comes to digital leadership, mobile operators have stood in the shadows of the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook for far too long. These digital giants have long set the standards, when it comes to driving digital engagement, for traditional telecoms operators to aspire to. This has prompted the global operator community to drive expansive and inclusive digital transformation programmes. The goal was simple – to be regarded by consumers as being ‘digital first’ and viewed amongst global digital leaders. Over the last 2 to 3 years, the traditional telecoms world has been turned on its head – operators have been forced to embrace unfamiliar technology and working practices to achieve this aim. For some, it has led to a new identity, a new brand, even a new culture. These operators have thought carefully about how it wants to be perceived by its existing customers and the new demographics they want to attract.

The key question is, has all the effort and investment been worth it? Are telecoms operators really transforming? Are they successfully embracing new digital identities, or are they simply talking the talk without walking the walk?

A recent global survey undertaken by Sapio Research suggests that it has absolutely been time and money well spent. As many as 70 per cent of consumers from the UK, U.S., Colombia, Indonesia and Singapore now consider their operator to be ‘digital first.’ In fact, the global consensus is that mobile operators now rank higher than the likes of eBay, Spotify and Uber in terms of digital leadership. Quite some progress in the last year.

The once considered utility-like providers are now seen as a credible source of digital services – this is critical as most operators search for ROI on heavy 5G investment. In the same Sapio survey, 73 per cent of global consumers would like to see more personalised digital services from their mobile operator and 69 per cent would like more interaction with them across digital channels. Operator customers around the world have spoken – we want more digital services and we want them from you.

The digital marketing war is being won. Consumers see telecoms operators as strong digital brands. Now it’s time for operators to make good on this new perception and seize the lucrative opportunity facing them. The same digital transformation programs that have changed public perception have also seen operators deploy new enabling technology to deliver the capabilities the marketing promises. Legacy BSS stacks are no longer fit for purpose. They lack the agility and flexibility to meet these changing customer expectations. We now live in an age of digital BSS, powered by the public cloud and enabling adjunct systems to monetise new 5G services that have been defined and created, but also react to those that haven’t.

Operators that cash in on digital transformation will be those that prepare for the unexpected better than the competition. High customer expectations are the only constant in the emerging 5G digital race, and operators will need digital BSS to adequately meet them.


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