This year’s Operations Transformation Forum was held in Munich, and Developing Telecoms was in attendance to find out about how operators in emerging markets are looking to improve the efficiency of their networks and businesses.
The core themes of the event boiled down to digitalisation and increasing operational agility. Many of the keynote speakers discussed how digitalisation could not only deliver greater realibility and operational efficiency, but would also enable cost savings and opportunities for revenue growth.
Following an introduction from Liang Hua, chairman of Huawei, the first keynote speaker of the day was the GSMA’s Laxmi Akkaraju who discussed the challenges that face operators as they seek to unlock the opportunities afforded by network digitalisation. While she began by highlighting the role this could play in allowing operators to reduce their opex and enable new services, she went on to discuss how greater digitalisation would provide a boost to how talent is developed in the industry. Greater agility in training and skill transfer has significant ramifactions for job creation in emerging markets, and consumers also stand to benefit from stronger network security thanks to the greater operator oversight that digitalisation affords.
However, the benefits of operational transformation and enhanced digitalisation are not limited merely to the telecoms industry, as noted by Turkcell’s Kaan Terzioglu. The operator’s CEO noted that the company has grown by over 50% in two years since its transformation from traditional infrastructure to digital, and underlined his point by observing that several of the operator’s major growth areas fall outside the typical voice and data services offered by telcos. In particular, he cited mobile financial services as one of the operator’s major new revenue streams, and added that while operators in many emerging markets have been active in this field for some time, the success of MFS as a new form of banking was indicative of a trend towards the digitisation of the broader economy. Online payments, consumer-focused content and smoother customer service are just the beginning of this – telecoms is entering the value chain of many other industries, such as healthcare, agriculture, transport and tourism.
Despite digitalisation enabling telcos to broaden their horizons and increase their impact in other areas, several of the keynote speakers nonetheless reinforced the benefit that operational transformation will deliver to consumers. Huawei’s President of Global Technology Services Bill Tang was keen to note the advantages of digitalising customer management, and outlined the company’s concept of a minimalist network enabling greater speed and effiency to satisfy customer demand and swiftly address any issues.
Ultimately, increasing operator agility via digitalisation will allow providers to drive down costs and increase the longevity of their networks as they prepare for 5G, noted HKT’s KS Luk. For operators in developed markets, this preparation essentially builds on what they have, but in developed markets such a forward-facing strategy will provide a springboard for effective growth as the impending expansion of data gains traction.