Published on November 8, 2023, 10:54 pm

The telecoms industry is currently facing uncertainty regarding its future economic viability, which has made change an immediate necessity. Mobile operators are struggling with an identity crisis, leading their vendors to acquire new strengths through mergers and acquisitions (M&A). For example, Ericsson acquired Vonage, while Microsoft acquired Metaswitch to enhance their network capabilities and tap into the enterprise opportunity in the digital era.

Although a handful of mobile operators like Singtel, Vodafone, and T-Mobile are leading the way with 5G solutions for enterprises, more success is needed in this area. The industry cites cost and monetization as challenges faced with 5G implementation. While cost remains a concern, monetization may be the bigger problem. Crafting innovative business models is crucial to re-engineer costs and reduce risks associated with 5G adoption.

According to a 2022 Frost & Sullivan survey, 60% of respondents believe that the traditional “Build it and they will come” approach will not be sustainable for 5G onwards. Mobile operators and regulators need to consider new approaches to improve future prospects. However, if there is a need for 5G, it will be embraced. Some industries, such as existing semiconductor factories in Taiwan utilizing augmented reality and artificial intelligence, have found a place for 5G due to its exact fit for their needs.

The telecoms industry needs to review the relevance and effectiveness of global alignment as some companies are achieving better outcomes by taking different approaches. Rakuten Mobile serves as an example of success achieved through unique strategies. Collaboration among competing global IT players can lead to faster execution of monetization strategies compared to global associations that bring together numerous mobile operators.

In addition to connectivity, greater collaboration is essential for providing end-to-end integrated services. The legacy mentality of control needs to give way to trust as the growth of the telecoms industry relies on effective collaboration between companies. However, collaboration skills are rare in the telecoms industry, and discrimination is still prevalent due to a majority of male workers.

The skillset shortage in the telecoms industry hampers the adoption of emerging technologies and practices. Attracting top talent has become challenging as the industry is no longer experiencing high growth. Moreover, incorporating automation adds complexity as mobile operators need to strike a balance between human touch and automation. A clear strategy for business transformation that encompasses culture and talent is necessary to move forward.

While change is acknowledged as necessary in the telecoms industry, implementing it remains an uphill challenge. Decision-making has historically been focused on short-term goals, but now long-term business transformation is vital. However, achieving clarity and success in this endeavor is not guaranteed, making it difficult to get everyone onboard – including investors and customers. Mobile operator CEOs must recognize effective change as an immediate strategic imperative to secure the future of the telecoms industry.

In conclusion, the telecoms industry must navigate challenges such as cost, monetization, collaboration, skillset shortages, and cultural transformation to ensure its long-term viability. Embracing change through innovative approaches will be crucial for success in the digital era.

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