The rapid pace at which the world went digital was primarily due to the penetration of faster internet to more areas. The telecom sector is responsible for creating the backbone of the digital economy by enabling more businesses and consumers to interact and transact via the internet. However, as the digital economy progresses steadily, telecommunication providers themselves are often faced with daunting challenges due to poorly integrated technology that powers their daily operations. It might sound amazing, but the very industry that lays the foundation for digital transformation is often failing to transform itself with digital solutions and in turn, is hurting their growth prospects.
At the outset, let’s acknowledge that the sector is a victim of constant technological evolution. As telcos grow, most of them are driven to make ongoing investments in technology infrastructure. As this technology progresses, each succeeding investment adds a layer of complexity to the ecosystem by being different from what came before it. To add to that, as customer needs keep evolving, business units want to create new product offerings. These often call for new pieces of technology. As time progresses, most telcos are left to confront an extremely complex, disaggregated, and disintegrated tech landscape. This landscape is hard to navigate, harder to manage, and near impossible to combine.
Let’s have a look at the top drawbacks or challenges that telecoms face due to poorly integrated tech in their digital ecosystem.
Delayed Launches of New Plans and Products
Telecom companies need to launch new connection plans or products in the market constantly to keep up with the competition. But launching a new product requires multi-level co-ordination between various enterprise systems like customer on-boarding, billing, network management, network provisioning, etc. With disparate tech systems managing these core operations without being synchronized, there will be delays occurring from some or all of the departments that use these systems. This will ultimately lead to delayed plan launches thus making telecoms lose out customers to competitors who manage to get their tech well integrated to work as a unified team and roll out products faster to the market.
Less Knowledgeable Customer Support
As one of the most widely subscribed utility, the telecom industry has to operate an elaborate customer support ecosystem that needs to respond to customer queries and concerns instantly. There is also a need to pro-actively listen and monitor the sentiments of customers on social media platforms and promote brand goodwill by addressing problems faster or even before customers report them. For this to happen, multiple systems handling different functions within the operational realm of the telecom provider needs to integrate well with the systems used by the customer support team. Only when real-time insights are made available to support staff, will they be able to solve customer problems proactively. Without proper information, staff will be poorly equipped to respond to customer queries which will lead to further negative sentiments propagating against the brand on various channels.
For impactful cybersecurity initiatives, it is imperative that an organization follows a unified policy for digital data management and monitoring of vulnerable points within their digital landscape. However, when systems are not tightly integrated and follow individual security protocols and standards, it will be difficult to manage the end-to-end security of the organization’s digital infrastructure. When systems following different security policies interact without prior integration, chances are vulnerabilities could transmit from one system to another or the weak integration can create new vulnerability points that fraudsters can exploit to gain access to confidential enterprise information.
Increasing Complexity of Operations
As the subscriber count increases by millions every few months, telecoms have to deal with rolling out personalized offers, bundles, and plans and handle complex billing, provisioning order fulfillment, customer support, and service configuration on a large scale. When each of these departments or functions are managed by different digital platforms with no interoperable integration, then there will be roadblocks in achieving unified operational excellence for the telecom’s digital infrastructure. Without unifying operations, cost escalations will go above the roof and in the long term, telecom businesses will find it hard to sustain operations as the cost of running the entire infrastructure will outweigh revenue earned from services.
Unprepared for the Connected Era
While telecom businesses have hopped into the digital bandwagon by upgrading their legacy systems slowly, they will find it hard to accommodate the massive growth of data from the connected ecosystem that consumers are more accustomed to these days. From smart devices powered by IoT to cloud services and OTT apps finding more preferences, telecoms need to have a flexible technology backend that can integrate with these new-age systems. There will be a need to redefine business processes, rewrite policies, and form partnerships with content providers and new services to allow for seamless growth. Any or all of these measures will require the entire digital landscape of a telecom operator to act as a single entity. Without tight integration, this unification will not be possible and as a result, the business will be deemed unviable for supporting the connected consumer market.
The telecom sector cannot remain averse to the needs of being a tightly integrated digital entity where each department can have their own degrees of digital freedom but can come together when needed to offer a unified experience for customers. Failure to achieve this unification can cost them dearly and can create problems for their growth ambitions. As the next generation of networks like 5G begins to slowly roll out, telecommunication providers must actively invest in creating a strong digital foundation for their own sustainability.