Are telcos leading the world in digital transformation yet? Not really.

telcos digital transformation
Image by Khakimullin |

Telcos and digital transformation should be terms that are uttered in the same sentence, but they are not. There is, it seems, a real disconnect between what the CEO says and what is actually happening within the organisation.

This is nothing new, yet you would have thought that a global pandemic would have given digital transformation efforts a real boost. Yet even moving to a digital sales channel seems difficult for telcos.

According to a Technology Innovation Council survey and commissioned by Upstream, telcos are still largely using physical stores to sell devices and bundles.

That said, North America has made the most progress towards a digital ecosystem, with many countries across Asia Pacific coming a close second. But it is clear, even with some promising initiatives, that progress is patchy at best.

As we have said before, telcos are very good at helping other sectors with the digital transformation challenge but not very good at fixing their own problems. The single biggest reason for not getting to grips with the challenge is integrating new solutions with existing technologies.

This lack of impetus is a problem because the wider technology industry is now seen as a beacon and a means of carrying on some sense of normal life during the pandemic.

Even the speakers at the recent, virtual, CES show were making bold statements that you might expect from visionary leaders.

Microsoft CEO, Brad Smith even referred back to John F. Kennedy’s quote from 1962 when he said: “technology has no conscience; whether it becomes a force for good or ill depends on man”.

Smith and other leaders are now very aware of their role in whether technology is used for good or evil (and, of course, it will be both), but you wonder where the telcos are among the grand statements.

In the context of digital transformation efforts, the answer is stuck with the same challenges that they always have been – privacy, return on investment, and a lack of internal skillsets.

The frustration is that the benefits are clear to everyone – automation, customer service and new revenue streams. It seems, though, the real, cultural journey from telco to techco is not yet underway.

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