COVID-19 disrupted plans, forced organizations to adapt and accelerated digital transformations across all industries, including telco. While artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotic process automation (RPA) play increasingly vital roles in telecom software development strategies, telco providers should also continue to invest in big data, cloud computing and cybersecurity. Read on to learn about the 7 key areas driving telco digital transformation strategies.
Telco CEOs navigating the post-COVID landscape need to contend with new working models, changing customer expectations and stringent security requirements. The most effective means of overcoming these challenges and excelling in a dynamic market is by turning to disruptive solutions, chief among them AI.
AI will continue to be crucial to any telco’s successful digital transformation
Though there are doubts about AI’s level of proficiency, the practical advantages AI brings to organizations is clear. More and more companies are leveraging AI in their customer experience (CX) offer, as chatbots, voicebots and callbots provide reliable self-service that reduces waiting times and increases the speed at which customers can complete basic tasks. Beyond boosting the quality of customer service, virtual assistants increase internal operational efficiency by allowing organizations to redirect workers to more high-value duties that require the human touch.
In telecommunications, business responses need to be immediate and spot-on to meet rising expectations for speed, availability and scalability. AI solutions like TensorFlow, Elasticsearch and Jupiter are already helping telco operators automate processes like EPC application life cycle management. High levels of automation, supported by AI, will be a key element for successful telco operators seeking to improve response times and provide increased reliability.
Higher customer satisfaction and optimized workflows impact the bottom line. According to Gartner, by 2025, 40% of physical-experience businesses will improve financial results and outperform competitors by expanding their virtual capabilities. Telcos can also apply the predictive opportunities presented by AI to network maintenance and security. The scope of AI is so great that it should feature in forward-thinking telecom software development.
A future-proof telco digital transformation must look beyond AI
As mobile devices are multi-functional in everyday life, the efficiency and dependability of wireless networks has never been more important. Knowing that one of the key drivers to achieving this goal is fifth generation technology, telco providers are including 5G in their digital transformation strategies. Not only does 5G achieve faster data transfers, but its high speed and low latency are key differentiators in a competitive telco market.
Additionally, the use of network virtualization to divide single network connections into separate, virtual connections that employ various resources based on different types of traffic, or network slicing, is continuing at an unabated pace. ABI research shows that 5G network slicing revenue will grow from $297.3 million in 2020 to $598.6 in 2021, and by 2026 will reach $8,901.1.
Telco CEOs looking to drive their business while achieving a digital transformation are also exploring how to further incorporate the Internet of Things (IoT) and embedded services. The near ubiquitous of internet-connected devises in consumers’ lives means fast and reliable connections are expected. The digitization of customer service increased throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. McKinsey research reveals that from December 2019 to July 2020, global digital interactions increased by 22%. IoT makes it easier for telecom providers to remotely monitor their facilities, proactively trouble-shoot problems and avoid a breakdown in service – which has a disastrous impact on a telecom provider’s reputation.
Another trend of note is the growing investment in robotic process automation (RPA). Like AI, RPA enables staff to concentrate on value-added tasks, as the intelligent automation (IA) capabilities manage repetitive tasks associated with reporting, administration and customer service. This means telecom providers cut costs while improving employee experience, which is why RPA is playing an increasing role in telecom software development.
While it supports all industries, RPA is especially advantageous for a telco digital transformation, where tedious, rules-based processes essential for maintaining effective service delivery are ripe for automation. RPA can also be leveraged to support invoice and purchase order processing, customer onboarding/offboarding, FAQs, data collection and analysis. With such benefits, it is understandable why, according to Gartner, worldwide RPA software revenue is expected to reach almost $2 billion in 2021.
A successful telco digital transformation strategy must factor in big data and cloud
One industry study indicates that in 2020 there were over 1.1 billion fixed broadband subscribers and roughly 7.7 billion active mobile broadband subscriptions. Clearly, the amount of data generated is staggering. For a successful telco digital transformation, data must be front and center. Gathering and sharing data is not enough – telecom providers must analyze and operationalize data. Adapting telecom software development to reflect this is important, especially in how data is stored.
Handling vast amounts of data in a secure manner poses challenges, and understandably telcos may struggle with storage. As a result, research suggests that by 2024, 30% of digital businesses will mandate DNA storage trials, to address the exponential growth of data that will likely stretch existing storage facilities to the limit.
Having greater flexibility, not just in terms of data but entire operations, has encouraged cloud migration. Besides unlimited storage capacity and the ability to back-up and restore data, cloud boosts a telco digital transformation through automatic software integration, high speed, and increased mobility. Already deployed in IT domains, cloud technologies optimize costs while delivering portability and scalability.
Cloud computing is winning over the telco industry for its reliability and security – figures show that the 2019 telecom cloud market value of $21.93 billion will rise to $62.68 billion by 2025. Telco CEOs understand the link between digital transformation and cloud migration.
The last trend crucial to a telco digital transformation centers on cybersecurity, which, while not new, should nonetheless be a primary concern for telco CEOs. Statista reports that the telecommunication services industry is a trillion-dollar market which is projected to grow in the next few years, making it a prime target for cybercriminals. CPO magazine explains that the 11 telecom companies in the Fortune 1000 study are the most vulnerable to data breaches and account takeover attacks (ATO).
To combat this threat, telcos should implement strategies which ensure secure management of data. Inevitably, this means advanced authentication and encryption to achieve privacy and access controls and firewalls to provide confidentiality.
An increasingly popular method of ensuring network and platform security is the implementation of solutions by offering open access to their source codes. Beyond guaranteeing transparency of platforms, it significantly increases security.
The gold standard of security certification is SOC 2, which is only awarded to organizations that meet strict security requirements. This classification not only recognizes steps taken to guarantee secure processes, but also acknowledges the ongoing enhancements to security measures to deal with emerging threats.
A telco digital transformation requires dedicated telecom software development
Telco providers aiming for a digital transformation should outsource this work to a trusted partner that has experience dealing with the unique challenges of telecom software development. That’s why telco CEOs turn to Software Mind, the Polish leader in delivering agile, scalable software development.
Looking for a personalized approach to support your digital transformation? Want a dedicated team of engineers who understand your needs and will commit to helping you achieve your goals? Get in touch to learn how to achieve a tailor-made digital transformation for your telco by clicking here.
About the authorPrzemysław Jarecki
A keen believer in responsible, forward-thinking digital transformations, Przemysław has over 20 years’ experience in telecommunications. Passionate about delivering tailor-made strategies that align business goals with IT ambitions, Przemysław helps leading telco providers drive their growth through intuitive, evolutive software innovations that enhance operational efficiency, cut costs and improve customer satisfaction.