John Abraham, Principal Analyst, Digital Transformation, Analysys Mason

CSPs continue to occupy strong positions as primary connectivity providers, but their traditional voice and messaging revenue has declined, and their intricate organizational structure has prevented them from responding quickly to market changes. The ubiquity of the internet has also diluted some of the advantages that CSPs enjoyed previously, such as the direct relationship that they had with their customers through retail stores and call centres. In addition, customer habits, behavior and expectations have changed, driven by the online, real-time nature of their engagement with digital companies such as Airbnb, Amazon and Uber. 

 The four primary categories of telco digital transformation initiatives are across digital experience, network virtualisation, new digital services and cost transformation 

Digital transformation has therefore become a priority for CSPs. The four primary categories of telco digital transformation initiatives are across digital experience, network virtualisation, new digital services and cost transformation. Of these four categories, transformation of digital experience is the most popular starting point and arguably the most important in changing end-customer perception. Our research points to three dominant trends that will direct how CSPs invest in improving their digital experience in the short to medium term

1. CSPs are increasingly shifting away from a system-centric to an engagement-centric model to transforming digital customer experience. In the past CSPs mostly adopted a system-centered approach to transforming their digital experience systems. Under this approach CSPs first considered their existing system frame work while planning for any upgrades such as adding new product or service. If existing systems were unable to support the new requirements, a new system would be introduced to help launch the new service. Over time such an approach resulted in a fragmented architecture framework with disparate information silos which limited CSPs ability to provide a consistent customer experience across its offerings.

In the engagement-centric approach to transformation, CSPs begin by first identifying the channels their customers want to engage on and the type of function that each channel should support such as sales or service. Only then is a decision taken on how to design and architect these systems. This approach of starting at the customer touchpoint and planning backwards will continue to gain momentum within CSPs and will be widespread in the medium term.

2. Another important trend is the growing adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to drive deeper customer engagement and reduce support costs. The use of virtual assistants and chatbots which provide greater selfservice potential and can reduce call-centre traffic significantly are examples of such initiatives. Such technologies are expected to see widespread adoption by CSPs in the medium term.

3. For many CSPs, enterprise presents a strong opportunity to drive alternate revenue streams, especially with the advent of 5G. However, most CSPs are not fully prepared to effectively serve the enterprise because of the inability of existing systems to wholly support the lifecycle from concept to cash for launching products and services for business customers. As a result, CSPs are expected to make considerable investments in the medium term to improve their systems’ ability to better engage and serve enterprise use cases.

Every CSP’s digital transformation journey is unique, often influenced by factors such as competition, business priorities, existing support infrastructure and region of operation among others. Irrespective of the journey path taken, transformation of digital experience will be a common trend across CSPs as they evolve their customer touchpoints in line with changing customer expectations.  



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