As the technology is filling each and every corner of our lives, businesses feel an ever increasing need to go digital. Companies in every industry are struggling to anticipate and satisfy rapidly changing consumers’ needs and telecom is not an exception. The rapid growth in the use of smartphones has transformed customer interaction with telecom providers. Gartner anticipates that tens of billions more devices will come online and become connected by 2020 and it exerts a profound impact on telecommunications. More and more telecom companies adapt their operations to meet the evolving needs of their customers. They leverage the power of technology to reimagine their business models, rebuild their market positions, and create innovative offerings for customers.

The universal connectivity trend gives people on-demand access to all their business and social activities from simple instant messaging to global money transactions. If telecoms use these new opportunities wisely, they could improve their profits by as much as 35% in the near future. So let’s have a closer look at 7 major technologies fostering digital transformation in the telecom industry.

1. Big Data providing valuable insights for telecom providers

Undoubtedly big data analytics brings in considerable value to decision making and provides more accurate and actionable insights. Big data may enable telecom providers to prepare their networks for future demands. For instance, it helps businesses take advantage of the available information within their networks to make them robust, optimized, and scalable by analyzing network traffic in real time. Reviewing a network from a mobile perspective helps reveal areas that require improvement as well.

Furthermore, the examination of user behavior can play an important role in understanding how to deliver media content more effectively and deliver better customer experience. This detailed understanding of customers helps establish customer-centric KPIs, which eventually brings competitive advantages and increases cost structure efficiency.

By gaining insights with the help of big data, telecom companies may leverage this information to create personalized customer profiles and launch targeted ad campaigns. With global mobile advertising expected to reach $41.9 billion in 2017, telecom providers can gain profits by serving better targeted ads. Therefore, with the help of big data, telecom companies can deliver customer-tailored experiences, grow their user-base, and increase revenue.

2. Effective digital transformation of telecom with Business Intelligence

A typical telecom business encompasses a huge array operations and processes. Those providers that have already realized the importance of analyzing their key metrics, started gathering information about their business performance and customer experience at all levels. However, making sense of all that data and taking advantage of it is quite a challenge. Business Intelligence technologies offer the tools for interpreting the collected information and using these insights for more predictable and smarter business moves. 

BI allows telecom companies to analyze their customers’ needs and tailor all their business processes to effectively meet them. Thus telecom providers are widely adopting BI solutions for reporting, dashboards and analytics. They include Tableau, Power BI, QlikView, Cognos etc. These technologies are widely used for predictive analysis, data mining, forecasting, and optimization. Overall, the adoption of BI in telecom is aimed at improving core operations, eliminating risks, identifying market trends and producing data-driven forecasts. 

3. Digitizing financial operations in telecom with Mobile Money

Although mobile payments, mobile banking, and mobile commerce might seem to be very distant from telecom, they present endless possibilities to the industry. Many telecommunication companies that have already embraced digital transformation deliver simple money transfer services within their solutions. In addition, they offer wider availability and lower costs than traditional banks by integrating fintech platforms like Currencycloud into their existing systems.

For instance, our telecom client Lebara has created Lebara Money, a cross-border mobile money transfer service. It is easily accessible via smartphone and allows to make reliable, peer-to-peer money transfers in just a few clicks. Moreover, Lebara users can top up their accounts, check their balance, and view payments history with MyLebara digital wallet. This is another opportunity unexplored by many telecom businesses. Yet the global mobile wallet market is expected to grow from $235 billion today to $721 billion in 2017.

Bringing all the financial operations to one place may help telecom providers significantly improve the user experience of their clients. Thus more and more businesses are likely to use mobile money technologies in their digital transformation strategies.

Evolution of the global mobile money landscape (2001 to 2016)

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4. Transformational potential of messaging technologies

Without any doubts, messaging technologies have revolutionized how we communicate, and today more than 2.5 billion people are actively using at least one messaging app. These technologies integrate features like video, photos, voice, e-commerce, and gaming with plain-old messaging. A recent report of telecommunications industry analysts Juniper Research predicted that instant messaging will account for 75% of all mobile messaging traffic by 2018. This would be the equivalent of almost 63 trillion messages.

Such dominant apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and Whatsapp have already overtaken SMS as the consumer’s favoured form of communication and our client Lebara is also actively adopting this messaging trend.  In cooperation with N-iX dedicated development team, they have built an HD quality calling and messaging app Lebara Talk. This app offers low cost international calling rates, with no connection fee and free credit on download. And this is just the beginning of the development of innovative ways of communication telecom businesses will have to face. 

5. The Internet of Things (IoT) revolutionizing telecom sector

As technologies evolve, the Internet of Things (IoT) is increasingly becoming a part of our daily lifestyle and is widely influencing telecom as well. Technavio’s market research analysts estimate that the global telecom IoT market will grow steadily with CAGR of more than 42% by 2020. IoT has a pivotal role in terms of infrastructure management in telecom. It serves as an intelligence platform for achieving significant energy savings and enhancing workplace experience.

IoT provides a unified console to manage several devices connected across the telecom network in an integrated manner. Its applications in telecom are likely to extend across both consumer and enterprise applications. These services will be concentrated on connectivity, consulting, implementation and operations services.

Leading telecom providers have already exploited the possibilities major IoT applications. For instance, Intel has launched its integrated suite of IoT solutions under its Intel IoT Platform. It provides device connectivity, cloud hosting, and analytics support. AT&T in cooperation with IBM and Spain’s Telefónica offers an IoT product called Thinking Things. It allows individuals to develop programs which adjust climate and lighting in rooms and offices. In the future, it will control all of the home and office equipment and data they interact with. Moreover, UK’s telecom provider Orange has launched a machine-to-machine (M2M) communications system. So this move towards a digitally smart world is representing major opportunities for telecom providers.

Forecast growth of connected objects in telecom (billions)

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6. 5G fostering digital transformation in telecom

In the age of digital technologies, mobile internet and its speed play a crucial role for telecom providers. The rise of 5G networks is expected to represent a major leap forward from current telecommunications technologies. This may include revolutionary changes in radio interfaces and spectrum use. While this technology has not yet been fully defined, lab and field trials are being actively carried out for at least the basic connectivity elements. The promise of 5G rests in providing more speed, greater efficiency, and less latency. 5G networks will be highly reliable and efficient in terms of handling a very large number of devices (including smart objects in the Internet of Things). According to Deloitte, there will be full, mass market 5G coverage by approximately 2020 and it will have a transformational effect for telecom.

7. Media & entertainment technologies in a digitalized telecom business

One of the major offerings of telecom providers is the all-time access to media and entertainment streams. Now internet television bypasses cable and delivers video directly to viewers through a broadband connection. According to Fortunelords, 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV. The total number of hours of video watched on YouTube every month has reached 3.25 billion. What’s more, people are increasingly watching media content on their mobile devices. In an average day, 4 in 10 users who watch YouTube do so only on their smartphones. 

Such telecom providers as Lebara have already leveraged the opportunities of media tech. Their solution Lebara Play allows its customers to enjoy high-quality video streaming to watch the worldwide multi-ethnic movies and live TV. It is dedicated to migrant communities across the world who want to watch various content from their home country without any limitations. Moreover, different video-on-demand services are now available with the help of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Along with the above-mentioned services, linear streaming services are gaining traction including Sling TV and DirecTV which stream dozens of cable channels in real time. Thus telecom providers may offer limitless connectivity and real time access to any kind of media and entertainment content worldwide.

On the whole, connectivity and mobility have become firmly entrenched in our lives, and their power is almost limitless. The development of technologies such as IoT, big data, BI and others allows telecom providers to gain competitive advantages by transforming their businesses. Telecom companies are actively adopting new ways of analyzing their customers’ needs and changing their traditional business operations accordingly. Therefore, the ongoing change in this sector is likely to make 2017 a year of innovation and digital transformation in telecom.