Digital transformation has touched nearly every industry out there, from manufacturing and health care to transportation and finance. The forces of digital disruption are particularly evident in the telecom space where businesses’ appetite for innovative IT and telecom services continues to grow by leaps in bounds. A 2017 whitepaper by the World Economic Forum predicts that digital transformation in the telecom industry will have a tremendous impact on telecom providers as well as society as a whole. The paper suggests that the digital transformation of telecom is a $2 trillion-dollar opportunity. And, it will center around four major areas: networks of the future, moving beyond the pipe, redefining customer engagement and bridging the innovation gap. (Source: World Economic Forum.) Telecom companies and telecom service providers have a tremendous opportunity to maximize capabilities while helping enterprises better adapt to today’s digital economy. Let’s dive into how the digital transformation is playing out in the telecom world.
- The increased importance of the enterprise network – The World Economic Forum’s Digital Transformation Initiative tells us that the flow of money and information over our digital networks is expanding at a breakneck pace. And, that by 2025, 40% of all data will be stored or processed in the cloud. This is all made possible by faster global broadband speeds, increased connectivity, and a more robust enterprise network. As virtualization technologies and cloud-based computing continue to expand, the role of the network will continue to elevate in the enterprise. Manual and time-intensive network segmentation and policy orchestration required by legacy network infrastructures are no longer sufficient in a world where more connected devices are the norm and employees expect 24/7 access to cloud-based applications, software, and platforms. Telecom companies that offer secure, self-optimizing networks will be best positioned to differentiate themselves and deliver value to business customers. That’s because software-defined networking (SDN) and network virtualization empower businesses to provide a higher level of services to customers with faster time-to-market and lower hardware costs. Networks that can be provisioned in real-time and include APIs to manage and control functions will help to create the blueprint for leading carriers and telecom service providers.
- Leveraging big data and analytics in-house and delivering as-a-service – Digital transformation in telecom is also apparent as companies turn to big data and data analytics to learn more about customers needs and wants and to personalize the customer experience. Telecom companies collect massive amounts of data from call detail records, mobile phone usage, network equipment, server logs, etc. Because telecom companies are the engine behind connected devices, faster networks, and our mobile-first world, they also have a unique opportunity to capture and capitalize on that data by delivering data services back to customers. The data and information that is flowing over telecom’s networks, as well as services offered via the cloud, can be captured, managed and analyzed to deliver any value to customers. And, because many small and mid-size companies don’t have the resources to build out big data architectures and sophisticated analytics technologies, there’s an opportunity for telecom providers and telecom service providers to fill this gap and deliver analytics-as-a-service capabilities to drive customer insights.
On the other side of the coin, leading service providers and those delivering managed telecom services are also leveraging analytics and machine learning to identify trends and insight regarding their network performance and capacity. By monitoring customer behavior, (i.e., upload and download traffic, network faults, security prevention, etc.) providers can make more informed, data-driven decisions about how to optimize services. Providers can also use big data and analytics to monetize networks services in new and inventive ways and to drive more strategic marketing efforts that improve customer loyalty, acquisition and retention.
- Building a more resilient enterprise – Today’s exponential increase in global information has generated tremendous new risks around data privacy and security. Businesses across nearly every industry are grappling with growing cybersecurity challenges. In the telecom industry, security is particularly challenging because providers are responsible for safeguarding customers’ data, applications, and networks. The more customer data flowing through their networks, or delivery of always-on services, cloud-based solutions or IoT connectivity, means the bigger the target on their backs. As a result, telecom providers are delivering more robust security options to their customers via cloud-services, and they are also turning to advanced cyber defense to protect their networks and infrastructures. As-a-service many providers are delivering threat Intelligence and incident response solutions using a platform that collects and correlates data from logs, endpoints, firewalls, and network devices.
The digital transformation has also injected machine-learning and AI into cybersecurity technology and strategies. For instance, new sophisticated threat intelligence systems can collect data from millions of devices to continuously “train” its security algorithms to detect and predict potential security vulnerabilities. Because telecom providers have a massive dataset, these AI-powered threat intelligence solutions can then deploy predictive algorithms at a scale that allows it to pinpoint the most vicious attacks in real-time.
Telecom has a strategic seat at the table when it comes to the digital revolution. Not only is it going through a digital awakening of its own, but telecom is also a key driver of today’s global digital economy. It provides the framework for helping companies and individuals stay connected with each other and with the applications, platforms, and systems we depend on every day.