The Digital Telecom Operator

An industry at the verge of a new paradigm

It is ironic that the telecommunications industry stands at the foundation of major digital industry disruptions, yet the business model of telecom operators has not materially changed since the late 90’s.

We believe that this situation will change, and that it will change rapidly. In this article, we expand on our belief and argue for a digital transformation of the telecoms industry; with the crucial difference to many other industries being that we see telco operators leading this change, rather than suffering an outside-in imposition of third parties. A successful digital transformation must start with a substantial improvement in the current telco customer experience.

An alternative route is to create what in effect is another telco – a purely digital one.

Telcos are losing the right to sell

Telcos have long been sitting pretty. Historically, their ownership of licenses and access to spectrum and capital have given them the right to operate. Regulation has by and large matched this right with the right to sell to their customers. However, the right to operate and the right to sell are not the same thing.

This difference becomes readily apparent when looking at how customers see things. Customer satisfaction surveys indicate that most telcos score only low to moderate marks. Digital companies such as Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, Skype, and Uber are placed well above them in the ratings. Telcos often come towards the bottom of the list in NPS benchmarks, for example. Why? In our view, these low ratings reflect the fact that most telcos provide an obsolete customer experience, sell a range of services that are needed less and less, and are interchangeable in the eyes of consumers.

The Digital Telecom Operator