Why digital transformation is essential for traditional service providers

digital transformation
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In recent times, digital transformation has been seen as a necessity for survival for businesses in Southeast Asia and around the globe. However, many organisations have yet to fully embrace what it specifically means for them. Before diving into the details of how traditional service providers can undergo digital transformation, we need first to understand exactly what it entails. Simply put, digital transformation is the application of technology to solve problems in new ways that leverage new technologies. 

For some companies, digital transformation simply means engaging digitally with their customers; for others, it means a complete revamp of how they conduct their business on a day-to-day basis. To some businesses, digital transformation means replacing on-premise systems by moving to the cloud. 

84% of companies have failed in their digital transformation journeys for a number of reasons. Failure from a lack of vision or a lack of execution strategy that dictates how companies can reach their outcomes clearly and concisely are two obvious hurdles that frequently get in the way of a successful digital transformation journey. In Singapore in particular, 64% of C-level executives see lack of standard technologies and processes as the top barriers and believe organisations should make more investments in the right technologies as one of their priorities to drive digitalisation.

What does this mean for communication service providers?

Communication service providers that come from a legacy billing background may find it challenging to onboard new digital services like IoT, marketplace, video streaming. This is mainly down to the fact that they are encumbered by legacy billing platforms used for traditional services with customised business processes. Traditional telcos have to reinvent themselves and move away from the legacy systems that claim to be ‘cloud-ready’ when they are actually far from it. Companies must continue to innovate, striving to suit the evolving digital landscape as legacy systems, and in many cases, the companies that built them, are not agile enough to support new business and revenue sharing models.

These days, many telco operators are also looking for additional revenue streams. They offer digital marketplaces by bundling their products with a variety of third party products. As a result, telcos become hamstrung with slow time to market and face a lack of agility and flexibility because the underlying systems were not built with digital service use cases in mind. Instead of using legacy systems that are not fit for purpose, telcos need to reinvent themselves and innovate on top of their legacy systems.

To give space for experimentation and flexibility, providers need systems that are both digital and consumer-focused. Service providers need to move away from legacy systems and have two options to do so. Service providers who are striving to innovate and keep up with their digital-savvy customers can either tweak what they already possess by building or buying an entirely new stack to replace all existing legacy systems, or they can steer in a completely different direction by following a “cap and grow” strategy. This strategy involves launching pivotal products on the new stack and gradually retiring old stacks.

The importance of digital in on-demand streaming services

Streaming services rely heavily on technology, data, and algorithms to create compelling experiences for audiences. To stand out from the crowd, streaming services need to be easily accessible, hold a wide range of content, and be able to personalise that content for their users. As such, they must adopt agile backend systems to have a fighting chance.

Streaming services don’t necessarily have time on their hands to undergo a colossal digital transformation project, nor do they have the time to wait around for legacy systems to migrate to the cloud. It is in their best interest to partner up with technology partners who can efficiently enable digital transformation in an agile yet effective way, in weeks, not months. Streaming services need to keep an eye out for specialised, vertical focused billing providers. These specialised providers should know the landscape like the back of their hands and will allow streaming services to reach their full potential.  

 Digital transformation for marketing and production strategies

Apart from hosting a more agile platform, digital transformation also carries a rich library of data that can be used to power marketing and production strategies.

For example, in light of the current coronavirus pandemic, the Chattanooga Film Festival organised a virtual film festival. This program was produced and disseminated to users within a short period of time. Using the power of data, the company can understand what audiences are searching for and create programmes that are likely to relate to them.

Personalising the user journey is another window of opportunity for companies on the road to digital. There is a plethora of data on the digital platform that allows companies to analyse and add context to every step of the user journey. We can present registration, payment, a win-back screen with highly targeted options, and offers that meet customers on their terms. This type of detailed marketing is impossible on legacy platforms.

The recent news that Chinese entertainment titan Tencent purchased Southeast Asian streaming service Iflix to extend the reach of its own streaming platform WeTV into the region is just one example that showcases the potential SEA holds.

There’s no arguing that the opportunities for streaming services across Asia are vast, but service providers will need to recognise this and evolve their systems quickly to take advantage of it. At Evergent, we believe in taking an incremental approach to digital transformation. Migrating from legacy platforms that have been in existence for years, even decades can pose many challenges, but companies must start taking the first step to adapt and move seamlessly into digital streaming services if they want to remain relevant in today’s competitive landscape.

By Krishna Chaitanya Garimella, Vice President, Product and Solution Architecture at Evergent.

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