In 2019, telco companies are feeling the pressure to make technology investments while focusing on devising business models to monetize 5G, and other opportunities.
Once available, 5G will create significant revenue-generating opportunities in the fixed broadband and business-to-business arenas—including smart cities, the connected home, and Internet of Things (IoT).
The big challenge will be realigning business and revenue models to support a raft of new services without losing focus on streamlining processes to cope with the anticipated growth in workloads.
Telco trends for 2019
Let’s take a look at the top telco trends predicted to shape the sector in 2019:
1.) Accelerating cloud adoption
Telecommunication companies are leveraging the scale and agility of cloud to virtualize networks, rapidly introduce innovation, and embrace IoT opportunities. That includes investing in cloud platforms to deliver new digital services—including OTT content, SaaS applications, and cloud-based unified communication services.
Moving ahead, expect to see cloud become increasingly embedded in business processes as telecommunication companies strive to manage and automate their omnichannel interactions with customers and mine big data to tap into additional revenue opportunities.
2.) 5G gets real
Energy, agriculture, transport, healthcare, and manufacturers are all poised to seize on the potential offered by 5G and IoT technologies as they become mainstream. The advent of 5G will see telecommunication companies partnering with other providers to capture new market opportunities —smart city technologies, fleet management, predictive maintenance, data collection and analytics, blockchain — as well as becoming primary OTT providers in their own right.
5G will create a wide range of opportunities – everything from machine-to-machine services and autonomous vehicles to remote healthcare and innovative video delivery services. With their 5G expanded capabilities, telco’s will need to invest in technology to create go-to-market models that capture 5G-IoT business potential.
3.) Ecosystem value creation
To take advantage of IoT opportunities, telecommunication companies will need to do more than just make an API to their IoT platform available. They’ll need to seamlessly orchestrate an ecosystem of independent partners who together create value. Alongside enabling complex integration capabilities and the secure exchange of data, operators will also need the right decision and management systems to support a variety of revenue sharing models.
Finally, in addition to enabling virtual monetization schemas that support automated service delivery, telecommunication companies will also need to become adept at handling complex and extended customer value chains.
4.) Mind the margin – the new commercial imperative
Revenue growth is no longer the only game in town, which explains why we’re witnessing the rise of business plans based on IMPU (individual margin per user) rather than ARPU (average revenue per user).
It’s a trend that’s set to continue as telecom operators initiate digital service portfolios, where direct costs and performance must be governed closely if profitability is to be maintained. To keep an eye on margin, telecommunication companies will increasingly leverage the data they already hold —using analytics and machine learning to gain insights into product, asset, and customer profitability.
5.) Privacy and digital identity move centre stage
Privacy and identity theft will continue to be a critical issue for providers in 2019. In an age where data security is directly linked with customer satisfaction, telco’s ability to offer greater visibility and control of personal data in exchange for personalized services and advertising will win.
With eSIM technologies set to take IoT and mobile connectivity to a new level, telco operators need to understand their digital customer management capabilities, which means blockchain is about to move centre stage.
6.) Blockchain – unlocking the potential
Blockchain will impact all core management systems and services, providing opportunities for efficiency gains and revenue growth through new value propositions. Telco operators should be seizing opportunities to implement blockchain for data and value exchange to reduce fraud, and unleash new revenue generating eSIM ‘identity-as-a-service’ type services.
Blockchain combined with eSIM provisioning will be the key to enabling new revenue streams, service efficiencies and superior customer experiences. Enabling interoperability between internal and external systems, while increasing transparency and effectiveness in operational processes.
7.) Get ready for more industry convergence
Today’s telecommunication companies are at the forefront of rapid innovations in the field of fintech, mobile payments, location-based data services, and more. As money ‘goes mobile’, expect to see more telecommunication companies grasp financial services sector and initiate new alliances that enable real-time payments for individuals and enterprises.
It’s a similar story where media services, health and smart automation are concerned, as telco’s leverage their diverse portfolio of assets—everything from connectivity and secure IT infrastructures to an online, retail, and call centre presence as well as impressive CRM, billing, and data analytics platforms—to seize on new potential markets.
8.) New digital rules of CX engagement
With convenience and speed topping the consumer agenda, telecom providers need to get ready for digital-first customer service and engagement. In 2019, self-service will surpass human support as growing numbers of customers look to take care of business themselves. Prepare for more live chat and co-browsing that supports customers during the buying process.
Providers will need to seamlessly blend their automated and assisted services, ensuring that information relating to an automated interaction is not lost should a human agent have to step in to help.
9.) Revolutionizing field service
In an era when the provision of services built around smart home offerings will require new approaches to the delivery of flexible and fast on-site customer support, telco operators are taking advantage of the gig economy and using ‘crowd service’ to create a vast service ecosystem that can respond to customer service requests faster — and at a much lower cost.
10.) Using AI in new, more creative ways
Until now, much of the buzz around AI has been about the use of chatbots and virtual assistants in customer service environments, but increasingly we’ll see telecommunication companies using machine learning to enable intelligent search and solution recommendations, automated ticket categorization, intelligent ‘call routing’, and the optimization of field service resources. Similarly, robotic process automation will be deployed to streamline complex case management and highly repetitive service process workflows.
We’re on the brink of a new era, where ‘Intelligent Connectivity’ — enabled the convergence of high-speed 5G networks, IoT and AI — will unleash highly contextualized and personalized experiences that will define the future of the industry.