The FINANCIAL — Telecommunications companies are having a challenging time dealing with technological disruption and are all too aware of the threat of being left behind.
According to the telecommunications executives responding to a new KPMG International survey a large majority (79 percent) are concerned that their organizations are seen as just a ‘fat pipe of bits’ side-lining them as commodity players. And, a similar proportion (70 percent) fear their businesses are not equipped for the new, disruptive world.
According to the KPMG International survey, just 11 percent of respondents feel strongly that their organization has a clear strategy and mission for disruptive technology and only 23 percent feel their company is very prepared in terms of a strategic vision for disruptive technology. In addition, four-fifths are worried that they don’t have the capability to take advantage of opportunities in key areas like Over-The-Top (OTT).
Of those respondents reporting a negative impact from disruption, more than half (54 percent) believe that their company only invests in proven technologies leaving them ‘behind the curve’. A further 36 percent claim they ‘saw the technology trend too late,’ and 69 percent feel disruptive technologies are bringing in new competitors from outside the industry.
According to Peter Mercieca, Global Chair, Media and Telecommunications, KPMG International:
“Telecom companies may be accustomed to change – but the accelerated speed of disruption is something they haven’t experienced before. However, the majority of the 580 telecommunications executives we surveyed are excited about the potential of disruptive technologies to enhance their business models and operations, with 58 percent of those who have adopted one or more reporting a positive impact.”
The survey found that telecom companies are using disruptive technologies to improve how they serve customers and support operational efficiency. More than 70 percent say data and analytics (D&A), mobile, cloud, social media, the internet of things (IoT), marketing platforms, digital payments, and artificial intelligence (AI) are being used and changing how they serve their customers. Overall they are using D&A (80 percent) to create real time change in the way they service customers (i.e. creating new products, services, delivery models, marketing approaches etc.). Mobile was next (78 percent), then cloud and social media (77 percent equally).
However it’s not D&A, but IoT (54 percent) and wearables (53 percent) that are the top two technologies for supporting customers after their purchase thus enabling their companies to keep in touch with their customers every move – to predict and react to their needs.
“Despite having billing information on millions of customers, many telecommunications companies are not using it to the fullest advantage to offer a heightened experience,” comments Alex Holt, Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) KPMG in the UK. “Indeed, D&A plays a vital part in understanding customer behavior, giving insights on how to better serve customers, which in turn should increase customer loyalty and reduce churn.”
On the operational side, improving productivity is a high priority for telecom leaders when investing in disruptive technology. IoT (54 percent), wearables (52 percent) and digital payments/currency (50 percent) are seen as having the greatest impact along with D&A considered the most effective tool for raising quality. Another disruptive technology with the potential to make telecommunications companies more productive, and drive greater quality, is virtual/augmented reality – with 44 percent of respondents citing this innovation.
With numerous disruptive technologies changing the telecom environment, having the right talent in the organization is critical. The traditional organizational model in telecom consists of large teams of customer-facing staff and network engineers. According to the survey, 43 percent of telecom leaders claim their organization has the staffing and skills in place to contend with the effects of disruptive technologies. In addition, 46 percent say their company plans to hire new talent specifically to help implement these technologies.
Bob Hayward, Principal, Management Consulting, KPMG in Singapore, comments:
“This is absolutely not business as usual, and there’s a huge cultural challenge for companies accustomed to running large networks and customer service operations with significant staff numbers. Many are burdened with these traditional ways of thinking and have yet to undergo the kind of cultural shift necessary to embrace new disruptive technologies. To compete effectively and be agile and flexible, the telecommunications company of the future needs to be staffed with digital architects, data scientists and developers. Many companies have considerable work to do to reach this position.”