Industries across the board are experiencing a paradigm shift in their business landscape owing to digital transformation. The telecom industry is no exception, with a range of new and disruptive technologies making it necessary for providers to innovate their products, services and customer channels.
Recognizing that successful innovations are an outcome of proactive and not reactive actions, many global operators are forging new, strategic partnerships in telecoms to keep the innovation momentum up and maintain a competitive edge.
Network Agility Is a Must
With the increasing complexity of telecom service offerings, networks and systems are becoming a more important than ever. The transition from 3G and 4G to 5G wireless networks is especially challenging as it leans heavily on innovative technology being layered on legacy networks. This may result in siloed systems, complex end-to-end management, and reduced legacy performance.
Agile networks address this by introducing automation in how networks and their devices are controlled and configured. This fast-evolving domain draws on areas such as network virtualization, analytics, AI, software-defined networks (SDNs), and intent-based networking. The benefits range from reduced costs and time-to-market, to new business models and best-in-class service offerings.
To successfully navigate this transition, telecoms will need to engage multi-disciplinary teams, including external experts with deep domain knowledge. This approach will future-proof solutions and create an environment where short-term business decisions are guided by long-term strategy.
New and Improved Service Offerings
Over the next five to ten years, the drive to streamline how agile networks are designed and managed will coincide with a sharp increase in the variety of services that telecoms and their partners offer.
Core offerings are likely to include 5G wireless, small cells, network virtualization, and a whole new ecosystem of IoT and digital experiences. Industry estimates suggest that by 2021, the total annual mobile traffic will exceed half a zettabyte, and represent about a fifth of the global IP traffic. If leveraged appropriately, this huge volume of data has the potential to help people and organizations achieve shared societal goals, and collectively solve global challenges of sustainability, healthcare, education and public infrastructure.
To achieve this, service providers will need to adopt best-practice models that include:
- Open APIs that allow telecom networks to be used as open platforms for third-party solution providers
- New and better ways to manage vendors, disruptive technologies, and products, using unified service and data models
- Strategies to manage hybrid virtualized and physical networks
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, strategic telecoms partnerships will enable service providers to combine their understanding of processes and technologies with an ability to create compelling, first-to-market products and services. By leveraging each organization’s strengths, both customers and stakeholders will benefit.
Improved Margins and Customer Satisfaction
Recent years have seen the global communications market flooded with new players, including low-cost service resellers and OTT providers. Demand for bandwidth and services has grown exponentially, reducing profit margins and increasing the risk of poor customer experience.
How providers shape their strategies for the coming wave of the disruptive next-gen technology is critical to solving these challenges. New revenue models will likely come into play—including, but not limited to, QoS monetization, cloud and network virtualization services, OTT revenue sharing, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, and new SLA offerings.
From a customer perspective, speed, availability, and low latency will remain the gold standard for telecom service. A 2015 survey of 1,000 senior executives globally found that the preferred approach to new innovation and product ideas heavily skewed toward strategic partnerships with organizations both inside (35%) and outside (30%) their industry. For telecom providers, strategic collaboration is a future imperative.