The Australian telecommunications (telco) industry is largely responsible for the highly connected and digital world we live in today. Their networks and services have fostered professional work environments and have brought together family and friends amidst Australia’s vast distances, and remote global position. But to continue doing so at an ever-changing pace, telco providers must accelerate their digital revolution.
In fact Accenture, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, has estimated that digitalisation could contribute approximately $100 trillion in value to the telecommunications industry over the next decade globally.
With that in mind, Accenture sees four main areas of digital impact for Australian telco companies over the next several years:
Networks of the future
Australian telecommunications operators have long maintained vast networks, held together by complex infrastructure. The next stage of digital transformation will involve virtualising networks that are otherwise bound to physical hardware. This is becoming ever more important as the lifecycles of current physical networks reduce. Being locked into the wrong physical network decision can be debilitating with escalating investment profiles. Even nbn, an organisation focused on the physical connectivity of premises, is applying virtualisation for future benefit.
Virtualising the current physical hardware promises to fundamentally change the basis of future service, by creating self-optimising and secure zero-touch networks. This will provide improvements in customer experience and flexibility through exposure of virtual capabilities. It will also create stepwise improvements in operational efficiency for the network providers. In fact, 64 percent of telco operators globally believe that the adoption of these technologies will be driven by the appeal of cheaper purchase and maintenance costs.
Beyond the pipe
Connectivity has been traditionally in the sphere of humans through phones, pagers and now smart-phones. However, the increased digital transformation of consumers’ lives and businesses presents the Australian telco industry with important opportunities to extend revenue streams beyond human connectivity, through integrated internet of things (IoT) solutions.
For example Telstra recently deployed Narrowband technology in its IoT Network which connects millions of new devices by sending small volumes of data over Telstra’s mobile. The network offers coverage in major Australian cities and many regional towns, and supports millions of devices like sensors, trackers and alarms to have a battery life of years.
Redefining customer engagement
To win the race for customer loyalty and mindshare, Australian telco players will need to increasingly deploy features and tools that deliver delightful digital experiences. Beyond the strict new complaints system recently proposed by the Federal government, earning and retaining customer loyalty will continue to be a central concern of the telco providers. In fact, Accenture’s research found that over 75% of consumers are quicker to retract their loyalty to brands than they were three years ago. This goal is especially important as digitisation has increased expectations - customers now expect the high-quality digital experiences they receive in leading industries to be matched by companies in other sectors.
Bridging the gap on innovation
The telco industry is fuelled by innovation. The need for rapid innovation, greater convergence and new services means that telco providers must fill capability gaps using new innovation models and revamped talent strategies for a digital workforce. A prime example of this is Optus, which recently-unveiled their Innovation Hub in Sydney. The hub is a dedicated workspace that will see Optus’ small-to-medium (SMB) businesses collaborate with start-ups and tackle current and future-state SMB issues.
Across Australia today, industry leaders are quickly realising that digitalisation has immense potential. A core enabler of digitisation is the leverage of ecosystems to power an organisation. Telco’s have the potential to play a key role in the connection and cooperation of digital ecosystems.
The time is now.
Jonathan Restarick is the communications, media and technology lead for Accenture in Australia and New Zealand.