Features and Analysis

Don’t be ‘digital hungry’: Plan rationally

I avoid going to supermarkets, especially towards the food aisles, on an empty stomach because I end up buying a lot more than I can actually eat. Is that impulsive buying behavior or just over-estimating your appetite? Whatever it is, I have now started going shopping when I am not that hungry so I can focus on what I am there to do.

I guess this is similar to what is happening with many telco operators right now. Digitalization and digital transformation are what everyone is talking about. They are hungry to go ‘digital’ as soon as possible and work hard to push in that direction. But are they overlooking something?

I think one critical aspect which they are overlooking is that not all of them have the same appetite. Maybe some of them overestimate, and a  few underestimate, their hunger pangs and go on a shopping spree without realizing what they actually require. Mostly because of the market dynamics and sliding revenues in traditional services.

Do not be an impulsive buyer who sees everything through rose tinted lenses. Social psychology says that we have a tendency to believe we are better than average looking, better than other drivers, better than other parents, and we and end up deluding ourselves.

“Objectivity is an elusive virtue. Rather than look back and reflect on our past actions with anything approaching a balanced scorecard, we look to the future with an idealized view of what it might be like.” (Article on Psychology Today)

So instead of acknowledging what we have done in the past, we like the idea of increasing revenue by 500 percent in the future.

Every operator is different, with different environments, complexities, expectations and ambitions. But still, they go for one-size-fits-all models. All of them talk about big data, irrespective of the fact that they are not really convinced why they need it in first place.

They want to be part of the digital economy but if asked how they are going to contribute to it, I guess very few would be able to explain it. They want to offer diversified products and services but are reluctant to collaborate with OTT players and third parties. They want world class customer experience but fail to assess what customers actually expect (outside-in).

Ask yourself:

  • As a telco, are you aware of the gaps which your current solution has when compared to the digital solutions available in the market?
  • Are you aware of all the pain points which you are facing currently and is it documented with an action plan?
  • Is your marketing team in agreement with your IT teams for all the issues? Are you happy with your current operations management?
  • Do you have a clear strategy at organization level to manage a cross-department digital initiative?

I have seen operators who do not even have their own IT architecture diagrams and are pushing to go ‘digital’. They imagine ‘digital’ to be a box which they can plug in and wait for the magic to happen. Having a clear vision of what you want can help you to think rationally and to come up with a more practical approach for digital transformation or transition.

Different operators have different working styles. Some like to emphasize innovation, others like to come up with a diversified product portfolio and a few go for fast market penetration. You also need a team which is capable of developing business strategy with a vendor-agnostic viewpoint and a multi-dimensional focus — critical success factors for digitalization.

So, go digital but understand first your appetite. Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Do not be a blind follower – you can follow the model but it can never guarantee that you will add numbers or increase revenues.

Telcos should focus more on the outside-in business approach and define digital milestones relevant and specific for their scenario, and then optimize it with industry standards. Assess first how mature you currently are and then decide the roadmap.

“To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are”.  (Eric Hoffer)

Go digital…rationally!

[Editor’s note: Along with members, TM Forum is developing a digital maturity model and metrics to provide operators with a practical roadmap describing the journey to digital maturity. Find out more.]


    About The Author

    Consulting Partner, digiCaaS Consulting

    Chaitanya Priya has 18 Years of telecom experiences in business consulting, telco operations and solutions. He has core expertise in digital BSS, revenue assurance and fraud management and is fascinated by the future of digital Ttlcos, working on digital enabling solutions and roadmap, digital maturity assessment, and digital RA modelling.


    1. Nabil Ahmed Zia on

      Very well put CP. Probably in the endeavor to be the first or not to be left behind, it is becoming a more of a fad to have a fancy Go-Digital strategy and start its execution asap with whatever is available. This well intentioned move, could spell disaster, unless it is backed by a proper assessment of the existing organization & its strategy for the next 5 yrs and the vision is aligned with the vendors/partners chosen to get this implemented.

    2. Mohamed HMAOUI on

      Great article, agree that digital strategy should be focused on real opportunities based on CSP size, market maturity and ecosystem readiness. Automation is a common mandatory milestone to realize, in order to remain profitable in core Telco business as remain the main stream of revenues. For digital innovation I believe not all CSPs can reach this target, the opportunity to success is limited to big fish having capabilities to build ecosystem locally and globally. After two years of digital move few success cases, no innovation in Telco business model, complexity remains in Telco pricing models and online experience still in early stage compared to other industries like banking. In coming year will see more consolidation, merge of CSPs and infrastructure sharing initiatives. CSP success will depend on use cases innovation around 5G and IOT technologies.

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        Chaitanya Priya on

        Thanks Mohamed. I agree, every CSP has its own share and the key to success would be how much they are realistic in their approach.

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