A long time has passed since the organizations initiated their journey of 'digital transformation' and made concerted efforts to incorporate technological advancements in their work. One of the early adopters of this trend has been the telecom industry. It is indeed remarkable that digital transformation has moved up by at least a decade in this sector. The pandemic's occurrence has played a significant role in pushing the growth of this concept in the telecom industry. The outcome is that most of the companies are either making the switch or have already adopted the plethora of technologies in their operations.
Digital Transformation, when defined, simply refers to the adoption of digital technology to transform services or businesses. It is all about replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or, in some cases, replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology.
However, for telecoms, digital transformation is all about the modernization of businesses to be capable enough to compete in a better fashion with the new-age businesses. The process brings about various structural and operational modifications in the industry, focusing on creating new value and ensuring that everything turns digital, be it communication or services. It has a broader vision to cater to the customers.
What entails a digital transformation in the Telecom Industry?
Digital transformation in the telecom industry encompasses the inculcation of state-of-the-art technological solutions to boost their operations, have a competitive edge in the market, and ensure the extension of an enhanced customer experience. India is the world's second-largest telecommunications market. It boasts of being the second leading country in telecom subscriptions, internet subscribers, and app downloads as per IBEF reports. The study further states that the industry is likely to exhibit significant growth in the coming times, and technology will have a pivotal role to play in the same. Some of the pathbreaking technological innovations all set to transform the Indian telecom industry are:
Business Intelligence & Analytics
Adding Business Intelligence and analytics using the power of Machine Learning will help the industry manage the bulk of data across various levels. To meet the customer expectations and provide them with a seamless experience, telecom companies would need to optimize their operations, analyze customer data and improve efficiency. Business intelligence and analytics will play a critical role in helping these organizations deliver the same.
Automating Customer Journeys
Introduction of Robotic Process Automation in the telecom industry via chatbots, virtual assistants, and knowledge management systems would help automate various labour-intensive and time-consuming tasks. RBA would facilitate network management, improve network infrastructure efficiency, digitize invoices and emails, smooth customer on-boarding and off-boarding processes, instant customer query resolution, and transform the data gathered into a structured format at a reduced operational cost.
Customer Experience Management
The Telecom industry has always had a 'customer first' approach. Since their needs and preferences are rapidly evolving, telecoms would need to develop strategies to cater to these changing requirements. Therefore, it is essential to foster real-time communication across channels and platforms for internal and external interaction via a communication command centre hub.
Operations Support Systems
They are the software tools that provide business support to telecoms and help make their working smooth and glitch-free. Hence, there is a dire need to have a tech-savvy digital infrastructure to drive support operations effectively by using contact centre software, ticketing, dispute resolution via automation, etc.
Customer Relationship Management
Since 'the customer is the king', hence telecom industry players need CRM software to track, analyze and manage all the interactions of the existing and potential customers. CRM software helps extend an enhanced customer experience by ensuring smooth customer interaction, increasing sales, customer retention, minimizing risks, and providing immediate feedback to the team.
Workforce collaboration tools
Amidst virtual working, the need for workforce collaboration tools has increased all the more. Due to the remote work scenario, tools for project management, task management, and file sharing gained popularity amongst businesses. These tools have become the need of the hour to access essential data and provide better employee engagement while working remotely.
With increased digitization and adoption to remote working comes the associated risk of cybersecurity. Considering that telecoms deal with a ton of sensitive and confidential data, having a robust cybersecurity system is critical to boosting security to protect the data, privacy, and information across the organization.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Telecom players deliver products and services that bring value to their existing networks by using IoT. IoT platforms are utilized to manage IoT devices and enable smart infrastructure for various other sectors. This technology helps facilitate smooth communication between devices and people, ensures efficiency and seamless business processes, and increases revenues.
telecoms companies work with the bulk of data across technological devices. Telecos will need Big data to control this data, move it from device to device, and support it safely. Big data and big data analytics help optimize network usage and services, enhance customer experience, improve security and thereby help in increasing profitability.
Migration to Cloud
Migration to the cloud is another noticeable trend adopted by the telecom industry. Migration to the cloud leads to various benefits ranging from fewer hardware resources, streamline processes, accessibility across the globe, and lower costs. Telecom companies will meet the requirements of next-gen workloads such as 5G, IoT, and machine learning processes via cloud migration. This technology will make the organization agile and bring about positive changes in its network slack.
The efficiency of wireless networks is becoming more critical as people become dependent and reliant on mobile devices. Hence, various telecom companies have been investing in and are preparing for 5G development.
As per Research and Market's report, the Indian 5G market could be valued at INR 32.43 billion by 2020. It is expected to reach INR 19,053.3 billion by the end of 2025. Also, as per KMPG's report, India Inc has the potential to hit $48.69 billion through the deployment of 5G over the next four years. The contribution of 5G to the annual GDP is expected to range from 0.35 to 0.50 %.
These statistics depict that 5G is indeed the future of the telecom industry. It will not only disrupt our daily lives but will also transform the working of the various sectors. And hence players will be focusing their attention towards the development and provision of the same to their customers.
Roadblocks in the path of digital transformation
Even though digital transformation has been introduced in the telecom industry for quite a while, the process hasn't been completely adopted yet. While there are various roadblocks in the path of digital transformation, the three major ones are-
The regulatory framework in which they operate
The regulatory framework in which the telecoms work is traditional and outdated. Hence, there is a stringent need to modernize it to attract foreign investments. The framework of any organization impacts investor behaviour. Telecom players must develop innovative approaches and strategies to have a competitive edge in the market and gather investments.
Additionally, the cumbersome taxation process, AGR, and price competition coupled with the reduction in industry revenue and profits have been other significant roadblocks in the path of digital transformation of the telecom industry. There are no feasible solutions to resolve these issues, and hence the foreign investment has always been comparatively low.
The need for fibre, connectivity, and eventually telecom industry will witness a surge in the coming times. The sector will have to evolve & modernize its regulation to attract investor interest and meet the ever-increasing demand.
Varying tech stacks they work with
The existing data infrastructure of the industry is insufficient and incapable to handle the current needs of the consumers and their rising demands of fibre and connections. Hence, modifying the network and data infrastructure of the telecom industry is essential. Doing so will not only bring agility but will also come with reduced operational costs.
There is a need to adopt 'everywhere networking' via cloud-grade networking that will enable telecoms to build a complete rack of cloud devices loaded with software. Creating this virtual environment will reduce the cost of cabling and wiring. There will be the availability of off-the-shelf equipment, thus making it easy for them to work. Networks could be run anywhere, and this would extend a 'flexibility' factor to the telecommunication industry.
Disaggregation of the varying technology stack is essential so that telecoms can develop and deploy stacks independently and streamline their operations.
IT systems and legacy framework that they have built upon for years
The organizations' IT systems and legacy framework are strong and well-knit. It becomes tough to replace them with technology. However, since they are not aligned with modern times functioning, digitization is essential to ensure that the systems don't crash. The IT systems run glitch-free, and the telecoms companies run smoothly. Fixing up these issues is critical so that you don't run out on business leads. The firm continues treading on the path of growth and development.
One of the primary objectives for telecoms is to survive and thrive, and digital transformation will help them to achieve the same. Hence, technological adoption will have to be in sync with sustainability to ensure that the industry sails through these turbulent times. Overall, the telecom ecosystem is set to witness various shifts. Digital transformation is one of them that will have a significant role to play in shaping the future of the telecom industry and making it progressive in the times ahead.