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January 20, 2021
Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Liran Weiss, CCO at mce Systems, looks at the tricky financial position telcos find themselves in and what can be done about it.
Debt, competition, and tech demand at the same price are collectively putting telecom providers in a tough spot. As 5G network installations spread, so do the consumer demands for phones that operate on their networks—save for a few conspiracy theorists. With telecom companies feeling falling out of favor with many investors, now is the time for telecoms to reconsider their digital infrastructures.
Telecom companies were expected to be the next superstars a few years ago. That was until a handful of bad business decisions and recent circumstances set in. From 2015 onward, Nic Fildes of FT writes, “The value of listed telecoms companies has dropped almost 20 percent on average over the past year, continuing a downward spiral.” Then came the pandemic, which was supposed to serve telecom companies as an opportunity to reverse this trend. Hopes ran especially high for European telecoms, which suffered through acquisitions years earlier that brought on debt and didn’t boost their value as anticipated. But despite hope in COVID-19 for better results, not much changed.
As consumers found their wallets getting a lot lighter, mobile device usage rose, but the desire to spend more for telecom services, on part of the consumer, did not. If anything, the expectations rose, but not the revenues.
With the digital transformation era unfolding at an accelerated pace, consumers are expecting more speed, better customer service, and more advanced features such as automated trade-in, protection plans, and advanced care to maintain customer devices at peak performance. 5G is one of the key expectations that’s come into play in the minds of consumers. More and more telecom companies are integrating 5G into their systems to maintain an edge, while others still lag behind. With reduced consumer spending and an unwillingness to pay significantly more for faster network access, telecoms are caught in a bind. Either way, they’ll all be forced to keep up with the times and move to the 5G world.
5G is only one of the points of sophistication involved. Companies now hold troves of data and host many touch points for customers, but existing infrastructures in many telecoms are not best prepared for the evolving customer and the future—from on-device support to device trade-ins to purchases to remote customer support.
All of the required touch points present a cross to bear for telecoms and can quickly become complex if not addressed properly and early enough. On the IT side, where devices are becoming increasingly complex, customer touch points need to be organized in a manner that not only streamlines the company’s service management, but also improves the customer experience. As smartphones become—dare I say, “smarter”—telecom companies will need to find a more effective mechanism to collect the data and process it in a synchronized way. Right now, though, all these touch points remain partly, or in some cases entirely, fragmented.
Telecom providers and their partner companies aren’t entirely synchronized all the time, especially for customer device trade-ins or sales. Internally, the same problem persists. Customers, in some instances, can come into a store and discuss a repair issue and later, the same customer can speak to a remote service representative who is unaware of the in-store visit and what transpired. These kinds of experiences only serve to hurt a company’s reputation and its customer retention. Technology, however, can be the vehicle to deliver the change the telecom industry sorely needs.
By adopting data-synchronization technology for internal systems, telecom companies and their affiliated partners will be better equipped to handle digital transformation and improve the customer experience. Numerous technologies exist on the market to synchronize all the customer touch points, which utilize complex algorithms in some cases and AI. Improved backend synchronization would enhance the customer experience, provide complete control over activities, streamline company internal communications and information transfer, and reduce the cost of doing business by cutting down operational delays and delivering to customers faster. In the end, improving the customer experience with backend adjustments, without needing to charge more, will provide the boost telecom companies need.
Technology may not be able to solve all of the problems telecom companies face after years of valuation stagnation and drop-offs, but it certainly can help make the uphill climb easier. Technology that can improve internal workflow and manage the impending demand from consumers is where telecom companies should look before gearing up for a big revamp.
Liran is the CCO of mce Systems, an omnichannel device lifecycle and automation solutions boutique. With a B.Sc. in computer science and physics from Israel’s Ben Gurion University and over 15 years of experience in mobile communications and dealing with global carriers, Liran became an international pre-sale guru at Emblaze Mobile and later founded mobile solutions software company eRocki, followed by mce Systems. On the side, Liran is an avid yogi, having studied Vijnana Yoga for three years, and is a dedicated husband and father to three adorable kids.
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