All topics in the digital hemisphere were up for grabs as a panel of esteemed industry innovators came together for a discussion to deliberate the route to becoming the digital operator of the future.
- Michael Lewrick, Chief Innovation Officer, Swisscom Enterprise Customers
- Shawn Mandel, Chief Digital Officer, TELUS
- Erik Meijer, Strategy GPM, Group Innovation, Deutsche Telekom
- Steffen Roehn, Senior Adviser, Reliance Jio
- Martin Bell, CEO, Bell Ventures
Defining the digital operator
Definitions of what a digital service provider (DSP) is, or could be, are relatively scarce, so firms are creating their own path. As expected, there was an assortment of opinions on being a DSP.
“For me there are two kinds of digital innovation: pull and push,” explained Meijer. “Pull being more customer-centric and focusing on their wants and needs, push is preparing for the digital environment coming towards us like blockchain, AI and machine learning.”
Bell’s road to digital success came in four parts:
- To internalize the customer and customer expectations
- To allocate capital thoughtfully – or his preferred way of saying it “Put your money where your mouth is”
- Strip off outdated burden
- Attract the right new digital talent
“We were fortunate enough to start as a digital operator,” Roehn stated as he told a little of Jio’s story to help the audience envision his answer. “We have a lot of good practice as to how you do internet and IT; we already call ourselves a digital operator.
“One element is having very easy interaction with customers,” he added. “In the Indian market, we implemented the ability to digitally onboard a customer which was not possible before. It resulted in a complete change in dynamics of the market and made our customers happy, and customers of competitors very happy because they [the competitors]adapted their approach soon after.”
Roehn commented: “It’s about customers doing stuff in the way they want to do it, in a modern way, with yourself as provider.”
Getting in 5G gear
With a 5G world being tantalizingly close to reality, Mandel addressed some potential hurdles/food for thought in selling 5G services:
“For us the challenge is not only partnering and creating an ecosystem of players that complement our existing and future revenue streams, it’s also a mindset shift. We spend a lot of time on B2B business, what we find – especially in traditional B2B business – is that the salesforce isn’t used to selling those types of services.
“We spend a lot of time not only figuring out how to partner and curate an ecosystem, (whether those are third-party/wave services augment existing revenue streams), and grow new ones, but also, what are we doing to train the salesforce and equip them with the right tools and have the right conversations. The salesforce isn’t equipped to sell it and they’re used to selling traditional services.”
A question from the audience: “Many operators were founded on a national scope. Main digital players, like GiffGaff have an international scope. Do you have examples of successful services shifts into an international mindscape, an international scope?”
Lewrick responded with the potential of a worldwide ecosystem stemming from a product. “So we’ve launched mobile operator bills, which sounds very unsexy, but it is terribly sexy. If a customer can bill with once click on their phone, you are in business. I’m really looking forward to do something with other operators [around the world].”