Set against a backdrop of changing consumer habits, intensified competitor landscapes, regulatory change, and cyber-risk, teleco providers must ask themselves harsh questions about their future strategy and offerings. This climate will not only further squeeze margins, but could ultimately determine their very survival. As we move into the new 5G age, telcos must prioritize identifying new services and revenue streams, as well as winning the hearts and minds of an ever more discerning and demanding customer base.
Watch our video about the changing needs of the telco customer of the future.
With that challenge in mind, Oliver Wyman launched the Telco 2025 survey, tasked with gaining insights into significant trends shaping the industry and customer perceptions. We interviewed more than a thousand people in eight markets (Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States), giving us a response base in excess of 8,000 participants. These weighted evenly across gender and age groups.
Select Survey Highlights
It’s clear that technology advancements will fundamentally shake up how customers interact with, perceive, and connect with their telco provider. Some of our key findings are as follows:
When leaving home in a hurry, 49 percent of respondents nowadays would rather grab a smartphone than a wallet. In future, the smartphone will become the wallet, with zero touch being the new standard. Telcos should therefore collaborate closely with partners, such as payment providers, to offer greater security through multi-factor and biometric authentication.
For 60 percent of respondents, connectivity is a major priority in life, helping people to be reachable to those close to them. In future, unlimited connectivity will become a given, enabling life-enhancing services like AI-powered home hubs, integrated with the IoT. 5G will cater for these increased bandwidth needs, but telcos must predict the right revenue pools.
From virtual reality to improving how we live, shop, and stay healthy, telco technology advancements are offering plenty for customers to feel excited about. However, other advancements are regarded with more caution.
Customer ownership could be at risk for established telco providers. Many customers, particularly younger ones, would see original equipment manufacturers as legitimate telco service providers, should they extend their offerings to mobile and internet.
Virtualized customer relationships may be a game changer for loyalty and attrition. Telcos may need to rethink customer experience branding to build stronger emotional bonds with their customers.
Aside from price, there are many areas where customers feel telcos should raise their game, including contract flexibility.
Unsurprisingly, one in four customers has concerns about data security, which must become a key component of an operator’s brand
World of Woes – and Possibilities
For nearly a decade, telco firms have battled against shrinking revenues and declining return on investment - in a stark contrast to the success enjoyed by their tech giant counterparts, such as Facebook and Amazon. These woes are set to increase, with a number of challenges promising to be a thorn in the side of telco boards: soaring mobile data traffic, increased capital expenditure (CapEX) requirements, more aggressive competition, ROCE degradation and cybersecurity and higher privacy needs.
Now is the time for telcos to take bold actions to effect lasting and meaningful change. Below are six questions that may help telcos make these important breakthroughs:
How far will we go beyond connectivity? In mature markets connectivity is becoming fully commoditized and regarded as an invisible on-tap experience. Consumer IoT could open up new revenue streams.
How will we capitalize on customers trust? Data intimacy, which is yet to be won, can untap many different plays: from digital ID to optimized operations.
How will we leverage customer data? AI offers the opportunity for a quantum leap in customer experience enhancement by utilizing the data to improve targeting and personalization.
How can we make more from partnerships? Data captured through artificial intelligence is a high stakes game. Coalitions can be an effective way to outplay limited access to external data and accelerate the virtuous data cycle.
How can we win the hearts and minds of our customers? Great customer experience is powerful. It can provide the important emotional connection that is the “missing multiplier” between operations and what the customer feels.
Can we monetize alternative streams, such as content? The trends towards commoditization of connectivity leaves video as the main element of differentiation, fueled by AI-driven customization.
We find ourselves surging towards an ever increasing world of connectivity, where the pace of change accelerates year upon year. Telcos still have considerable work to do if they are to utilize new technologies intelligently and profitably. Central to this will be putting consumers at the heart of their value propositions and designing seamless new solutions, backed up by meaningful data. No doubt, by 2025 the telco landscape will look radically different. For telcos, the time to start changing is right now.