Digital transformation has already swept through various industries like a force of nature, and it was only a matter of time until it hits the telecom space. Driven by strained networks and increasing customer expectations, demand for innovative solutions that improve data speeds, connectivity, availability and customer experience is through the roof among telecom companies.
Where are the opportunities for telecom innovation? These emerging communications technologies may point the way toward better network capabilities, stronger revenue streams and healthier bottom lines.
Where telecom pain points exist
According to consulting firm Deloitte, one of the main challenges facing the telecom industry in the coming years is maintaining a high quality of service across different offerings. Further complicating matters is the fact that the network upgrades needed to support expanded, advanced services may be prohibitively expensive.
How can telecom companies meet demand for better availability and faster speeds without a significant overhaul of existing infrastructure? By taking advantage of emerging communications technologies like Software-Defined Networking (SDN):
"[O]perators will be moving away from proprietary, hardware-based network equipment to software-based network functions with technologies such as SDN and Network Function Virtualization (NFV)," stated Deloitte Vice Chairman Craig Wigginton. "This shift should allow them to manage their networks more efficiently and effectively, and be more responsive to changes in consumer preferences."
SDN and NFV not only promise to empower telecom companies to better utilize available bandwidth, but they also will create new services, new streams of revenue and increased profits. Telcos can offer customers the option to pay an additional premium to scale up network capabilities on demand to meet their bandwidth needs. As control of networks and associated network services become increasingly centrally managed, telecom companies will see more and more opportunities to offer managed services so that enterprises can offload that responsibility.
Putting an end to manual processes
The telecom industry in general continues to depend on a large number of manual processes and workflows from top to bottom. Software-driven automation will help streamline just about every aspect of telecom operations and lay the foundation for more substantial and dynamic service creation. For instance, automation at the OSS/BSS level can pave the way for on-demand, self-service capabilities. Telcos can then create customer-focused portals where users can try out and add on new features as they see fit.
"Self-service portals will be key to cultivating a better customer experience."
Self-service portals will become key components to cultivating a better all-around customer experience. People want to have more control over their telecom accounts as well as the ability to make changes, view billing information and contact customer service support when it suits them best. Cloud-based portals provide that opportunity in a single, intuitive platform.
Moving to the edge
Edge technologies show a lot of promise for the telecom industry as well. SD-WAN has already been a major revenue generator for many companies, and other businesses can follow that lead in providing customers with more flexible company network environments. This technology is especially useful for organizations that struggle to maintain high standards of connectivity at their branch offices.
Other technologies that reside at the edge of the network can be hugely beneficial as well – namely, virtual customer premises equipment, Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs) and interconnects.
There is an incredible amount of emerging communications technology out there for telecoms to reshape their network environments, establish money-making revenue streams and exceed customer expectations. Massive network upgrades aren't necessary to maintain high-quality service delivery – companies can achieve similar results by embracing some or all of these telecom innovations – that ultimately wrap around the evolution of digital customer experience.