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What telcos need to do now …

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Kathy Gibson reports from SATNAC in George – In an increasingly mobile and digitalised world, telecommunications operators need to make major changes to meet the expectations of their customers.
Amdoc Global conducted two survey asking consumers what they want from their telcos; while a survey of telcos found that service providers are not currently working on delivering these products and services.
Vincent Rousselet, vice-president: marketing, insight and strategy at Amdoc Global, points out that there is a lot of money at stake. In South Africa, mobile data revenue will reach $5,05-billion by 2019; and mobile financial services could generate $1,5-billion in fees in sub-Saharan Africa by 2019.
The first survey was of teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 in 14 countries, and indicated what teenagers want, and what they would give up to achieve their desires.
A shocking 78% of teenagers would be OK with have an internet-connect device embedded into their arm, the survey found. In addition, the things their parents grew up with seem terribly inefficient to them. “Most have never used a phone box, listened to a record, bought a newspaper,” Rousselet says.
Teenagers say they love Google, Facebook, Apple and WhatsApp – and their service providers are the companies they like the least. This could be because 92% of teens don’t believe their service providers understand their digital lifestyle and needs, while 24% of teens have experienced bad service from their telcos.
A second survey, that included adults, shows that consumers are looking for innovation; power to control what is going on; and a personalised level of service.
Among consumers of all ages, 73% would consider replacing their current service provider with companies like Google, Apple or Facebook if they offered wireless connectivity; with 27% of them somewhat or very likely to switch in the next 12 months.
The things that make customers churn range from network outage and billing mistakes, to customer experience and a competitor increasing its network quality.
The things that makes them stay, according to the research include rewards for loyalty, the ability to solve problems with self-service and being able to change a pricing plan without having to take out a new contract.
People recommend their operator to other if they experience good network quality, personalisation of products and services; and rewards for loyalty.
“If these things are true today, they will possibly be more true in the era of IoT,” says Rousselet. “So we need to ensure a better customer experience.”
To improve the service that telcos offer, they need to personalise products and services, proactively offer products and services to meet specific customer needs, and be more responsive to customer interactions.
“There are no silver bullets, but there are a lot of things that telcos have to do all at the same time.”
Telcos themselves realise that IoT is a key pillar and one of the things they have to address. A survey found that 82% of service provider executives identified digital transformation as a critical and immediate objective.
However, 79% of digital transformation projects in carriers are executed as standalone initiatives. “The problem with this is that consumers want a lot of things to be fixed at the same time. When its standalone, there is a risk that things go into slightly different paths and you don’t get the connected power,” Rousselet says.
In addition, more than four out of 10 service providers don’t have a digital strategy: 46% says they don’t; 54% say they do.
Interestingly, business and IT leaders see things differently. IT respondents says there is no digitalisation strategy (61%) but the business respondents say there is a clear strategy (64%). “We think business people are writing a strategy, and believing they have one, but not communicating it.:
Within telcos, 89% of those surveyed recognise that the chief digital officer will lead and drive digital transformation – but only 28% of them actually have a chief digital officer.
Another anomaly is that 82% say they are ahead of the competition or leading the industry in digital transformation, but 64% believe that telecommunications companies will be outpaced by other industries.
Worryingly, 50% of service providers predict it will take five years or more to complete the journey to digital transformation. “But five years is actually quite a long time,” Rousselet says. “During the last five years, there have been 15 unicorns: startup companies that have reached more than $1-billion in market capitalisation, for a total between them of $45-billion.
“The point is, there is no time to waste on this journey – you have to start now, and make it happen now. We advise customers to have a clear strategy; adopt new skills and tools; and get outside help.”