November 3, 2020
2020 has seen a quantum shift towards digital transformation, none more so than in the world of wholesale telecoms.
Ever since OTTs arrived onto the connectivity scene, the industry has been discussing the changing role of carriers and speculating on what roles they are likely to play in the future. In a world where everything is digital, consumers are forever looking for new ways to connect.
A recent panel discussion at the Capacity Europe event looked at what this means for digital infrastructure within the connectivity landscape, how are carriers adapting to the increasing needs to expand their services and customer experience and what this will mean for the future of carriers in the connectivity business.
What do your customers want more than anything else?
What’s really clear is that now, more than ever wholesale telecoms customers expect a top-notch service. Despite changes to how business is done, customer service remains extremely important to many.
Customers expect more today than they did a few years ago. One of the most important wants for them is to know that service providers understand their needs and wants and that they will be delivered.
Today’s customers also want more flexible terms than before. Whereas previously very long 12-24-month contracts were the norm, now they prefer and expect much shorter and more flexible options. This gives them more options during times of higher and lower need.
The shift towards digitalisation has also put more power into the customer’s hands. Whereas in years gone by the relationship between customer and wholesaler was a very personal and direct one, nowadays more people are looking towards self-service portals to control their services. This gives the customer greater flexibility and they no longer need to worry about having to contact a real person, in fact some argue that actually they want as little interaction with the wholesaler as possible.
The use of customer portals offers the customer greater value than previously and adds trust to the co-relationship. Ultimately customers want value, both core and added value from their suppliers.
What changes have been witnessed in the last 12 months?
The last 12 months have been extremely challenging for many businesses both in terms of trading conditions but also ensuring that the needs of customers are met.
The changes that have been witnessed during 2020 many expected would take at least 5 years. With more remote working and less business travel as well as a shift to cloud-based applications have meant it’s never been more important to ensure customers have enough capacity and adequate cyber security provision.
The carrier environment is continuing to change. Voice traffic is declining but this is more than being replaced with data and content. The huge growth in OTT has really driven a growth in capacity demand.
What are the upcoming challenges and what partnership opportunities?
There are many key challenges the industry must face in the near future, many of which are driven by changes in working environments.
Besides a shift towards self-service portals for new services, other core services such as IPX and voice can be moved onto this platform approach making it easier for customers to organise their services as they see fit. The shift towards a self-service environment will also drive with further automation and the challenges associated with it.
Partnerships will become more important. The telecom industry is quite unique in that one day you’re competing with another provider, the next you may be partnering with that provider. However, to really meet the challenges faced by the industry, to stay relevant and to deliver the services that customers need and want, quality partnerships will be increasingly important.
A vital consideration in any digital transformation project is the people. In reality, wholesale telecommunications is not about networks or technology – it’s about people. There is a real focus on developing the existing team and then recruiting and partnering when we need to.
The wholesale business is extremely resilient, but carriers must adapt to the new way of doing things, to remain relevant, making things easier, rising to the challenge of automation to deliver what customers are looking for and build trust with partners and customers.