The difficulties faced by communication service providers (CSPs) in recent times have been myriad. From getting to grips with the complexity of 5G and other emerging technologies to battling the fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been smooth sailing for the beleaguered sector.
CSPs have understood that digital transformation is critical to their long-term success. By adopting the latest advances in automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and virtualization, CSPs can manage the scope, scale and rising complexity of their networks amidst the reality of flat headcounts and flat budgets for the foreseeable future.
And CSPs are doing just that – according to a Nokia survey, nearly two-thirds (60%) of IT leaders in the global telecom industry say the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of their digital transformation efforts.
The roadmap to become a DSP
Every CSP will have unique business objectives and need to define their priorities accordingly.
The two main variables that impact the extent and nature of the digital transformation are complexity and cost. With the advent of 5G, CSPs are confronted with the daunting task of upgrading their systems and processes to prepare for next-generation technologies. For instance, a CSP that operates 35,000 base stations and manages eight different bands, will have 50 percent more of each by 2025. An analysis of a medium-sized CSP based in Europe showed that in the next five years, it would witness a 73 percent spike in network growth due to 5G rollouts, re-farming of spectrum assets and LTE refresh.
These complexities will only increase with advanced 5G services that will demand varying performance parameters and service-level agreements (SLAs) for distinct network slicestailored to different use cases and customer segments. As network complexity grows, so do their related costs. If CSPs were to seize a piece of the market, the need to digitalize becomes imperative.
Where to focus
CSPs should aim to focus digital transformation efforts where they stand to make the greatest gains soonest. Network expansion, operational streamlining and performance optimization offer promising starting points. CSPs in our survey reported their top three digital transformation priorities in 2021 are automating operational processes (53%), upgrading legacy IT systems (41%) and cybersecurity (38%).
Determining which digital transformation efforts to tackle — and how — while keeping costs and complexity in check can be daunting. Based on real-world experience in virtually every region of the globe, Nokia has identified some clear principles of digital transformation success. All depend first on taking a structured approach to setting priorities while avoiding the pitfall of “too much at once.” CSPs then need to view the transformation effort holistically across three interconnected areas — the network, processes and people — with a rigorous approach to balancing complexity and cost.
Based on lessons we’ve learned across a number of CSP digital transformation projects, we’ve set out some tips to avoid common pitfalls and achieve transformation goals here. You can also gain insights into CSPs’ digital transformation priorities and hurdles in our CSP to DSP transformation survey.
Patty Wong is a marketing professional with more than 20 years of industry experience, dedicated to crafting compelling messages and stories about technology. She is currently a marketing campaign strategist, creating content focused on new perspectives on the telecom business, and developing an overall strategy that drives awareness, thought leadership, and positive brand perception.
We create the critical networks and technologies to bring together the world’s intelligence, across businesses, cities, supply chains and societies. With our commitment to innovation and technology leadership, driven by the award-winning Nokia Bell Labs, we deliver networks at the limits of science across mobile, infrastructure, cloud, and enabling technologies. Adhering to the highest standards of integrity and security, we help build the capabilities we need for a more productive, sustainable and inclusive world.