Nik Willetts, CEO of TM Forum, predicts what strategies and digital technologies could help
What are the main challenges facing the communications sector in 2020?
Communications service providers (CSPs) are facing new threats to profitability, largely due to their inability to attract the right talent and new competition from industry disruptors. Their first challenge will be to rethink their operating models to ensure they can deliver faster and more reliable and secure services than these market entrants. CSPs will have to invest significant amounts of their already stretched budgets to build the new 5G network, so they’ll need to explore new financial models and partner with other companies to share network infrastructures. Finally, they’ll need to transform from single-service connectivity providers into multiservice operators so they’re agile enough to quickly seize growth opportunities driven by 5G.
What strategies should CSPs implement to overcome these hurdles?
First, CSPs should focus on reinventing their business models by migrating workloads to the cloud and using technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and edge computing to quickly scale their connectivity networks and services according to demand. Next, they should look to partner with cloud and technology providers like Microsoft or over-the-top service providers to capitalise on the new business-to-business-to-X (B2B2X) market, which will require them to change how they sell connectivity services. Currently, most customers buy voice connectivity and data plans directly from a CSP and then purchase separate subscriptions for all the online services they want to consume using that data – such as video-streaming platforms like Netflix – from a third party. Today, CSPs must integrate their connectivity services with third-party applications and platforms to deliver all these services as a bundled solution to consumers, enterprises, suppliers and other entities.
How will collaboration help CSPs to drive growth?
Telecommunications is a geographically fragmented market, so CSPs must collaborate to stay competitive. More employees are working remotely, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so collaborating is the only way CSPs can deliver the same high-performance, 24/7 connectivity wherever they are. Organisations like TM Forum can help because we provide a platform for knowledge sharing and co-innovation.
Can you share your vision of how you see the communications sector evolving in 2020 and beyond?
It will be an exciting decade. Digital ecosystems are growing rapidly and now is the ideal time for companies to work together to deliver the innovative communication, connectivity and value-added services and experiences consumers and business will need in the workplace of the future.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issues delivered directly to your inbox.