The Why, What and How of DX in telecoms

Understanding the key factors in digital transformation for telecom companies in Middle East & Africa

Tags: Digital transformation
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The Why, What and How of DX in telecoms Telcos need a bold vision supported by clear expectations for revenue generation or other benefits of their digital transformation programs, says Dib.
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By  Cedric Dib Published  March 15, 2018

Digital Transformation (DX) is a very hot topic nowadays. 62,500,000 results in 0.43 seconds are what you get from Google for this specific search. If some companies are facing challenging implementation topics on how to start with, telecom operators in the region are among them.

Indeed, as much as your mobile device supports your digital lifestyle (you most probably access your bank account and other services such as Facebook, Messenger or LinkedIn on your mobile), digitalizing the services that telecom operators provide to their customers is not a straightforward move.

Here below are some common, and frequently occurring key points that I came through during my discussions with several telecom operators in the MEA region. In fact, it looks fundamental to run a profound assessment of the following insights.

1. Most of the decision-makers consider that the ‘W's (Why, What, Where, When and How) should be investigated in a parallel way to avoid moving into siloed approbations. This is strongly recommended to align the interactions between the ‘W's that impact directly the cohesion steps and the investment overlaps.

2. Digital transformation (fractional or complete) is subject to a deep evaluation of the end-of-state objectives that business-driven organisations are targeting to reach (such as customer experience enhancement, retention, revenue growth versus investment, profitability, NPS/CES ...etc.).

3. ROI assessment is a very sensitive point for the main reason that telco operators have to deal with their legacy. It can push them to simply add a ‘digital' front desk interface or layer on the existing legacy systems without an exposure to a high risk. Changing their full legacy looks to be a challenging direction considering the heavy investment already in place that is not absorbed yet. To keep running their existing business, we have seen some Middle East operators preferring to opt for a new separate brand that operates under their current network infrastructure.

4. The interface that facilitates the online interaction of the customer with the operator (transaction such as ordering, selecting a plan, payment ...etc) is for a true digital transformation what Uber is for TCP/ IP. The first aspect is for the upper business layer and the second aspect is at the lowest technology layer. A deep digital transformation may start from the lowest layer to the most top layer to take advantage of innovative protocols, disruptive technologies, new processing software, and a rethinking of almost all the technical and business processes from top to bottom.

5. The digital customer experience is obviously an exciting journey from both business and technical perspectives. However, and even if the ‘Why' high-level objective is the same, the ‘How' framework cannot be a simple replication for any country/region. New technologies and market requirements are pushing operators to reinvent themselves but the ‘digitally-savvy' maturity of a targeted population/market segment is one of the major measurement points to assess the digital transformation suitability (including cultural aspects, local regulations...etc.) to balance the real market requirement versus the appropriate technology to use. The projected and tangible potential benefits are undeniably the priority.

For business-driven organisations, expected revenue-generation/benefits supported by a bold vision of the digital services/roadmap, help a lot in re-adapting mentalities of the decision-makers in place, stabilizing the focus, and optimizing the magnitude of the innovation. It reduces the inducted entropy around the subject and injects more clarity on appropriate business models/approaches (full re-invention of business processes, bi-polar approach, Iterative adjunct or digital additional layers).

Each telco operator has its ecosystem specificities based on its local business environment and each approach has its contextual advantages and inconveniences.

I personally believe that pro-active business assessments of these overall aspects are the key to a successful path forward. However, and considering the fast-paced evolution of technologies and systems that can catalyze a larger vision of new business directions or adoption of emergent/innovative technologies (such as IoT platforms, AI...), the time-frame to absorb the ROI is currently becoming a key factor for the appropriate path to move forward.

Cedric Dib, PhD, Executive Director and Digital Transformation Adviser

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