These Four Major Forces Will Disrupt Telecom in 2020
With the advent of 5G and accelerated digital transformation, the telecom industry is being upended once again. Lightning fast networks and digital applications open the possibility for telecom providers to develop innovative and highly personalized subscriber experiences with ultra-fast response times and seamless connectivity.
To compete in this new paradigm, telecom providers need to efficiently use their enterprise data to personalize and expand their subscriber offerings. Often the fastest way to innovation is through partnerships and M&A. As businesses collect more customer data and share that data with third-party entities, staying in compliance with data privacy regulations becomes even more of a challenge while relentlessly innovating to stay ahead of competition.
There are four major technology trends impacting the telecom industry that will force companies to be more attentive to how they handle data to maintain market leadership while complying with global privacy regulations.
1. 5G Gets Real
The continuous progression of network speed and capacity requires vast amounts of capital expenditures on new infrastructure and equipment. Leading U.S. telecom companies have recently announced investments of tens of billions in 5G technology—with T-Mobile leading with $40 billion in 5G investment and AT&T and Verizon earmarking $20 billion each. Governments are also realizing the value of building faster, bigger networks with China, Japan, and South Korea pledging to expand significant investment throughout their respective countries.
While 5G presents opportunities for businesses, it could prove to be a headache if the right data management practices aren’t put in place. The speed and size of 5G creates tremendous pressure to develop the fastest, most innovative applications and services because the availability of applications that run on 5G can make or break a telecom provider as subscribers shop around for the best provider.
Building out applications and services on 5G requires the ability to easily and securely share data across the organization and with partners for development and testing of end-to-end solutions that provide the best customer experience and engagement. The cloud will be a key enabler in providing testing platforms and ease of data sharing, which leads to the next telecom trend, digital transformation.
2. Accelerating Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is still growing strong in the telecom industry. Established providers realize that they must move applications and services to the cloud for a faster response to customer demands and industry trends.
Leading Belgium telecommunications company Proximus wanted to pick up the pace of digital transformation to keep up with increasing demand for new online and mobile customer experiences. Proximus was facing considerable competition from larger, European competitors, and it needed to move faster to maintain its number one position in Belgium and grow their subscriber base.
They recently introduced a new program called Excite that required migrating applications and data to the cloud for speed and agility. The company adopted a DataOps platform to quickly and efficiently move, test, and validate data while ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.
By digitizing their ecosystem, Proximus increased its ability to provide digital services and new customer experiences in response to customer demand and competitive pressure. They continue to be the number one choice for telecom services in Belgium.
Furthermore, over-the-top (OTT) media delivery has become a critical offering for telecom companies as more and more consumers turn to streaming media, like Netflix, on their televisions, computer, and mobile devices. Cloud technology is enabling video services providers to quickly launch new services and focus on providing the best content in a single viewer experience—without having to manage and maintain OTT infrastructure.
3. Leveraging the Partner Ecosystem
Successful partner ecosystems require fast and secure exchange of data to enable development and testing of integrated solutions. In order to rapidly build and monetize applications, telecom providers are adding third-party software developers to their partner ecosystems.
Application developers gain customers through access to the telecom provider’s network, and telecom providers benefit from a handful of native applications that can create new revenue streams and enable a seamless customer experience. Companies are leveraging partners to capture growth in the telecom industry in the following ways:
- Mobile health: More people are adopting mobile applications to make personal health easier. The global mHealth apps market size is expected to reach $236.0 billion by 2026. Not only do consumers today use mHealth applications to count their steps, but they also perform other health-related activities, including staying active throughout the day or taking the proper dosages for medications. Telecoms are not in the business of healthcare, so partnering with an application developer is a better option.
- Mobile payments: Banks and telecom providers are joining forces to provide easy and secure methods of mobile payments. Because telco companies have the technology know-how, the subscriber base advantage, and the identity management expertise, partnering with a financial institution can enable them to develop a robust payments solution that can handle a wealth of transactions and protect against the increasing threat of fraud.
- Internet of Things (IoT): Analysts estimate that IoT will generate nearly $1.8 trillion revenue for mobile network operators by 2026. While there’s opportunity for telecom providers to add innovative applications to monetize IoT solutions, we can expect to see a slew of challenges to burden the networks that control everything from energy usage to appliances and transportation.
- Loyalty programs: Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. By integrating best-in-class loyalty program software into their ecosystem, telecoms can develop a closer relationship with customers through rewards and tailored customer services.
Building a partner ecosystem can introduce new opportunities for collecting data, but it can also potentially expose subscriber data—which brings us to the next trend: regulatory compliance.
4. Regulatory Compliance: Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
The telecom industry generates massive amounts of sensitive data. Faster 5G networks pose an increased data compliance risk as they enable faster connections with more applications and devices that capture, share, and expose more and more personal data.
Regulations such as the GDPR, CCPA, and LGDP not only enforce strict data privacy and security requirements for customer data, but the telecom sector also faces growing regulatory pressure to securely store call detail records (CDRs) and internet session activity. Failure to do so may result in significant legal ramifications and monetary losses.
Storing consumer data is always a risk, and every effort needs to be made to secure, including governing data access and masking personal information in non-production environments used for development and testing. With identity theft on the rise and the awareness of data privacy regulations becoming mainstream, subscribers will make choices based on the security and trustworthiness of the network.
Building a Telecom Success Story with DataOps
All of these trends require data, and lots of it. Managing, securing, and sharing data are all key to successfully navigating the telecom industry. DataOps enables telecom providers to derive significant value from access to fast and secure data in the following ways:
- Accelerate development of apps on 5G
- Leverage cloud to rapidly introduce telecom innovation
- Partner to provide new subscriber experiences such as mobile health and mobile payments
- Fortify policy-driven data privacy and compliance
Adopting a DataOps platform will help telecom providers expand revenue generating subscriber experiences with the ability to deliver and share compliant data for faster application development, seamless migration to the cloud, and an expanded ecosystem, ultimately helping to deliver better business outcomes.