Charting the Road to Digital Transformation Excellence
Digital transformation is more than a buzz word on every telecom operator’s strategy book. It has become much more an imperative for the operators to move from connectivity providers of yesteryears to a converged role of digital service provider and digital ecosystem enabler of 2020 and beyond.
The pressures to change come from both threats that operators have faced, and the opportunities presented to them by the new market and customer dynamics. On the threat side, for many years, operators have to watch internet companies overtake them both in customer relationship and in overall revenues, all while using their networks to do so. On the other hand, the market opportunity from digital transformation is simply too large to be ignored. The research published by the World Economic Forum estimated that the value of “Beyond the Pipe” business could amount to $650 billion between 2016 and 2025. In addition, digital transformation by telecom companies could potentially also create $290 billion worth of societal impact.
Many in the telecom industry have also recognised the potential of digital transformation. In the latest Telecoms.com Annual Industry Survey, the largest group of the respondents believed that revenues beyond the traditional voice, text, and data traffic would contribute to 25% of their business in 2019 but could go up to 50% by 2022.
However, the remit of digital transformation covers almost every corner of operators’ business landscape from product development to customers service, from internal operation to network architecture, and everything in between. Moreover, not all the necessary changes can take place at the same time or with the same degree of easiness. This makes it extremely difficult for telecom operators to set tangible digital transformation targets, assess how successful their efforts have been, and define concrete steps to take and investment to make to close the gap between their current position and the desired status. The industry desperately needs a set of tools to support operators to onboard their digital transformation journey.
Whale Cloud has stepped up to the task with the Digital Telco Maturity Map (DTMM), created with the profound knowledge and rich experience of the telecom industry among the leading experts and thought-leaders of the company. This is a multi-dimensional, spatial but easy to use model as a guideline for companies like telecom operators to make the digital transformation journey through clearly defined, industry-oriented roadmap.
The model covers four dimensions critical to the telecom companies’ digital transformation success. They are: Customer, Technology, Operation, and Innovation, each of which is then cascaded down to subcategories and each subcategory has different check points.
The “Customer” dimension is about “Customer Satisfaction”. Satisfied customers are not only less likely to churn, but also present opportunities for upsell. To reach these objectives, operators need to focus on three subcategories: Digital Channel, Digital Experience, and Intelligent Service. Mobile devices have increasingly become the centre of consumers’ digital life, which should also be the focal point of operators’ Digital Channels. Mobile applications, mobile-optimised websites, and other tools should be applied to all the digital touch points. But only covering all the touch points is not enough. Consumers need to be able to enjoy a seamless Digital Experience, in particular they should be able to manage the services they subscribe to with real-time information on the status of the services, contract balance, content updates, billing, etc. with standard experience. Furthermore, gone are the days when one service fits all customers. Intelligent Service, as the name suggests, needs real time intelligence. This depends on analytics that operators can generate and can use to personalise service offerings. For example, a heavy video user can be offered a package different from a heavy text user who should be billed differently. This will also create upsell opportunities for operators.
The “Technology” dimension is about operators adopting technologies in a holistic approach, or “Technology Fusion”. Specifically, to achieve digital transformation goals, telecom operators should have sound strategies related to Cloud Infrastructure, Unified Business Mid-End, Unified Data Mid-end, and Security. The objective of combining these measures is to develop front end applications with high efficiency and agility to quickly meet changing consumer needs while maintaining back-end data intact. Such a layered approach should also be applied to security, which includes both the infrastructure layer and the application layer.
The “Operation” dimension focuses on network automation to achieve “Operational Excellence”. This includes three subcategories. Intelligent Operation is needed to manage the whole system in a more intelligent, automatic way, for example preventive measures are implemented based on analytics created with AI to minimise the risk of network breakdown. Digital Resource Platform is needed to efficiently carry out tasks including resource calculation, resource orchestration, resource synchronization, and real-time resource inventory. Intelligent Orchestration is especially needed when virtual network technologies are more broadly adopted, for example NFV and SDN in the 5G era, to calculate and allocate virtual network resources, addressing the functional requirements for service definition and service orchestration.
New technologies, especially 5G will open doors for telecom operators to broaden the B2B service offerings to other industries and verticals. Therefore the “Innovation” dimension is about “Vertical Innovation”. Telecom operators are in an ideal position to drive the Platform Economy by either collaborating with 3rd-party businesses to offer new values their customers, or incubating and growing 3rd party innovations on the telecom platform. This approach can create values for both Digital Enterprises and Digital Governments.
In addition to being multi-dimensional, the DTMM model is also spatial. Operators can measure themselves against the depth of each dimension and each subcategory on a scale from “Beginner” to “Developing” to “Mature”. These are developed by Whale Cloud in a digital majority framework with well-considered checkpoints, which CSPs can use to assess their digital maturity level.
The granularity of the model also makes it easy to use. Operators can choose to aggregate all the check point positions to get an objective overview of how mature they are on the digital transformation scale, but they can also focus on specific dimensions or subcategories that they need to improve on. They can set high ambitions, but they are able to start from simple steps.
DTMM is designed to support telecom operators, but it is only the first of series of tools Whale Cloud has been developing. With our new corporate home, new strategy, and our new ambition to expand into other verticals, we are in a good position to provide more tools to support digital transformation in a broad range of diverse industries.