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May 18, 2017

Survey Says: Disruptive Competition Challenges Telecommunications Sector

According to a recently released study from EY, more than one third of CTOs and CIOs see disruptive competition as the single greatest strategic challenge facing the telecommunications sector. The report, Digital transformation for 2020 and beyond, goes on to say that nearly three out of four survey respondents place it in their top three challenges, followed by lack of organizational agility and lack of return on investment.

"Over-the-top (OTT) communications players such as WhatsApp, Facebook and WeChat have redefined the customer experience in messaging and video services, luring traffic away from telco offerings such as SMS,” said Prashant Singhal, Global Telecommunications Leader, EY. “These trends are playing in response to a market in which consumers and enterprises increasingly see value in multiservice packages, with quad-play and cloud packages driving new opportunities.”

2020 strategic agenda
Operators are focusing investment through 2020 on digital business models and improving the customer experience to address new competition from outside the sector. When asked about their main strategic priorities, 39 percent of survey respondents identified customer experience as their number one focus area and 61 percent said it's one of their top-three initiatives. Digital business models emerged as the biggest strategic priority for 24 percent of those surveyed and a top-three priority for 71 percent of respondents.

Asked which digital services offer the best opportunities for incremental revenue growth, the survey respondents cite a wide range of service areas. Operator confidence in Internet of Things (IoT) services is rising, with 31 percent of respondents viewing smart home as one of the top three drivers of future revenue growth. Meanwhile, 37 percent see 5G as the network access technology with the greatest impact on the industry over the next five years, the number one answer when respondents were asked about technology trends.

Legacy IT impeding digital transformation
Turning to the obstacles facing operators on their digital transformation journey, legacy IT is seen as the main impediment to transformation — cited by 65 percent of respondents as a top barrier.

"Looking ahead, all players will have to strike a balance between more proactive support of the customer experience and more dynamic business and operating models to thrive in an OTT world,” said said Adrian Baschnonga, Global Telecommunications Lead Analyst, EY. “The rise of the software-centric operator, where IT is interwoven in the fabric of the business, will determine the winners and losers." 

For more on these topics relating to the communications industry and landscape, check out Communication 20/20

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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