Home General A Peek into the Future: How Telecommunications will Evolve in the Coming Years
Telecommunications, as we have known it over the decades, is now dead. Traditional services such as voice, messaging and data are increasingly getting commoditized, and subscriber acquisition costs keep rising in a cut-throat and fragmented marketplace. Over-the-top (OTT) service providers and other new-age “digital native” competitors are leveraging telecom operators’ network infrastructure to take away market share and customer relationships from the latter. Not surprisingly, telcos like yours today face declining revenue growth, lower customer lifetime value (CLV), increased customer churn, and plummeting EBITDA margins.

And, with the expectations and demands of millennials and other discerning consumers evolving rapidly, you have to deliver personalized solutions on demand. Similarly, on the enterprise side, you must overhaul your value proposition by positioning yourself as a one-stop enabler of connectivity for driving next-generation digital solutions and services.

So, how will different emerging technologies and consumer behaviour impact the evolution of your business and operating models in the coming years? Here are some macro trends that will significantly influence the telecom landscape:

5G: The expected rollout of 5G by the early- to mid-2020s will usher in next-generation wireless high-definition video streaming and virtual reality experiences, through lower latency and greater capacity. By decoupling the network infrastructure hardware and software, 5G will enable telcos to come up with new offerings around high-quality content, advertising, etc.

That’s not all – the transformative technology will facilitate a rapid commercialization of IoT-driven services by providing the requisite network capacity and performance across various applications, and by ensuring security, trustworthiness and scalability.

IoT: Many of the future innovative enterprise solutions will be driven by IoT, with you and your peers harnessing hardware and software data around NFV, SDN, M2M, etc. to launch various high-margin, differentiated services. For instance, IoT will power services like device management, customer care and billing, and product catalogue handling.

Smart cities, too, will come up in large numbers, as real estate developers, utilities and local governing bodies partner with telecom companies to promote road safety, reduce accidents, and so on.

As connected devices and sensors generate more and more data going forward, telcos will also actively manage IoT platforms, data and devices, and provide wide-ranging solutions such as fleet management via a managed services model. As a case in point, auto-makers will partner with carriers to make connected cars mainstream, with telcos offering weather updates, roadside assistance, etc. to drivers.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: The telecom industry’s ongoing transformation will be significantly shaped by the rising adoption of AI and ML, which will foster automation and enhancement of several back-office operations and mundane customer interactions. Self-learning algorithms will help carriers to realize major cost savings through automated customer support and service – via chatbots, voice services, speech recognition, etc. – and predictive maintenance and superior infrastructure.

Blockchain: Telcos will increasingly embrace blockchain to protect customer data. With regulators worldwide imposing stricter norms around individual data privacy and fraud prevention, industry players will adopt the distributed ledger technology to conduct transactions with each other in a secure, reliable manner.

Real-time marketing: Over the next five to 10 years, collaboration between brands and telcos will gain traction, as far as orchestrating better marketing initiatives is concerned. You will partner with companies across verticals to activate contextual, real-time campaigns, based on your customer and network intelligence.

Similarly, your data analytics insights on customer sentiment, engagement and churn will enable brands to fine-tune their customer outreach and segmentation programmes.

Conclusion

While all these technologies will empower telcos to unveil innovative services and solutions, they will also come with their fair share of challenges–particularly around network and data security, identity management, and so on. You will have to actively, and continuously, collaborate with other stakeholder across the digital ecosystem to address these challenges, even as you will transform your business with new-age digital services. Leapfrogging into the future won’t be easy; instead, a gradual transition from the current state to the desired end state would be a more realistic goal for you to set and achieve.

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