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article imageDigital transformation in telecoms to create agile 'open telcos'

By James Walker     Dec 14, 2017 in Technology
Telecoms operators are embracing digital transformation and technological change to develop new networks and improve the customer experience. The telecoms industry is in a leading-edge position for connectivity as businesses start to demand cloud tech.
Becoming digital service providers
Telecoms firms are moving beyond their existing role as broadband and phone providers. As more connected devices and utilities come online, operators will provide the bandwidth that allow these technologies to scale. They'll transition from being pure communication service providers (CSPs) into digital service platforms positioned to support new technologies and connected ecosystems.
This shift will require telcos to alter their current business models. Moving away from communications and into the digital space will be one of the biggest challenges telcos have faced in their history. Telecoms providers need to find an operating model that allows for the efficient support of next-generation services alongside their current networks.
"Unique" opportunity
Telcos have a "unique opportunity" to transform, Accenture reported in a recent article. This is because they already have established businesses, large reserves of data and digital-centric networking expertise. Telcos also benefit by holding existing customer trust, with businesses more likely to choose a telecoms operator when deploying new devices and networks.
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Etienne Franchi, AFP/File
A report from the World Economic Forum earlier this year found digital transformation offers a $2 trillion opportunity to telco firms. As digital transformation begins to take hold in every industry, telecoms providers can expect to see an increased demand for their services. Over the next few years, growing numbers of businesses will switch to a cloud-first, data-first model which makes them reliant on the networks offered by telco companies.
"A series of digital, industry and customer trends is accelerating digital transformation in telecommunications," wrote the World Economic Forum. "The industry is gearing up for a massive increase in demand from other industries. Customer expectations are crossing industry boundaries and raising the bar across industries, forcing telecom operators to redefine network experience."
Increased innovation
Successful transformation will be characterised by several outcomes. The first will be an improved customer experience that offers additional value, enabling new digital experiences to be delivered seamlessly. Networks themselves will also improve, utilising new hardware and software technologies to create self-optimising and self-managing cloud connections.
Providers that transition to the digital service era are likely to reinvent themselves as "open telcos," supporting decoupled network stacks and cross-industry innovation efforts. Telecoms firms will benefit from increased agility and reduced costs, enabling them to increase investment in research and development efforts and create new products faster.
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Concerns such as cybersecurity and network resilience will remain significant challenges. However, the change that's created by digital transformation should allow telcos to respond more proactively.
In many cases autonomous, AI-powered technology will be used to detect problems before they become serious threats. The new approaches being explored by telecoms operators are helping to move the industry forward, creating sustainable telco businesses well-positioned to meet the needs of tomorrow's connected services.
More about digital transformation, Telecoms, telcos, Networks, connectivity
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