Telecom, Digitalization, and Carpe Diem – and the Survival of the Fittest


3 minutes read

Innovation drives economic shifts, which in turn are driven by cycles of scarcity and abundance. Hundreds of years ago, it was unthinkable to most people to own a car. Back then, products were in scarcity and cost was the focus. The industrial revolution changed all that. Then, in the 1950s, we saw the beginning of the consumer economy, with people’s desire to consume being the scarcity.Now, as we enter into the digital economy, mass marketing is in abundance. The new millennials are tuning out TV and no one clicks on Web banner ads anymore. The new scarcity is people enablement. Some were early to jump on the train, like the Facebook, YouTube, and the innovators, like the Uber’s of the world.

The need to reinvent

Paul Saffo, an associate professor in forecasting at Stanford once said, “We invent new technology and then use it to reinvent ourselves.” Some companies are more successful at this than others. Half a century ago, the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company was around 75 years. Today it’s less than 15 years – and that number is continuing to decline.

Telecommunication companies looking to survive and thrive beyond the 15-year life expectancy should consider Saffo’s words. The digital economy offers unique opportunities for telcos to not only continually reinvent themselves and their own industry, but to move up value chains and help transform other traditional industries.

What kind of technology can help the fittest survive?

There is no doubt about it – digitalization is bringing the world together. We’re all part of creating this huge digital machine, which is a big step for humanity. And telcos have a very natural and central position in this new digital society. They are already connecting everyone everywhere and soon they will be connecting billions of machines and pulling all the generated data up into their clouds.

Now, however, this big and fast data must be turned into smart data. With this comes the enablement of customers through contextual awareness, the “Internet-of-Me.” In addition, tasks and processes will be automated through artificial intelligence and the Internet-of-Everything, with support from virtualization and cloudification.

The digital (r)evolution creates pivotal questions in the telecom industry. How can telcos take advantage of the massive and increasing amount of data being generated? And can they create new business models that propel them into the digital economy?

It’s time to shake things up

Clearly, it’s not enough to just keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them; we need new approaches to creating digital business.

Technological advances and innovation are driving new business models that are challenging and reframing beliefs and old long-standing ways of making money. Customer retention and average revenue per user have been fundamental to telecom, but it may be time to abandon these and look for new business drivers.

This is certainly an “easier-said-than-done” proposition, but here are some potential impetuses behind a continuous telco transformation in the new digital age.

From cost to outcome! We are moving rapidly from low-cost to no-cost and outcome-based pricing models. In fact, cost-based pricing is something that should have died a long time ago.

From abundance to scarcity! In scarcity, there is value, in abundance there is not. Today privacy is becoming a scarcity.

From loyalty to empowerment! Rather than making investments to desperately try to understand consumers and what they want, why not provide mechanisms that let consumers decide for themselves? Why not empower them with decision-making capabilities to buy and consume services their way?

From efficient to intelligent! A strong belief in the telecom industry is that improved efficiency means lower cost and improved profits. But efficiency is no longer enough. Some telcos are starting to increase service intelligence through instant insight-to-action. This is quickly becoming a basic requirement for future success. And it will be especially true for self-managing networks that will require real-time learning and automation.

From ownership to access! Major corporations are turning into software-as-a-service companies offering virtualized assets in the cloud. This has the potential to transform traditional industry roles and boundaries. Before long, network equipment providers may be offering virtual telecom resources that are managed and hosted in the cloud to any kind of services providers.

Digitalization is key

Now is the time to fully capitalize on these new opportunities and reinvent the future. It’s time for telecom companies and the industry as a whole to let go. It’s time to let go of what is and become what might be.

The digital transformation is on. Are you?


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