During the 16th edition of the Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit, one of the industry players who participated in the event was Ken Campbell, a partner at PMP Strategy. In this Telecom Review exclusive, he shares his views on digital transformation trends and how telcos will evolve and be impacted by new customer demands and opportunities.

What is the importance of TMT strategy consulting in helping companies assess growth opportunities?

We help companies to identify opportunities to improve their top line with their current business while also seeking out new growth opportunities, as we move towards 5G (and the opportunities that this technology represents) and we see increased demand on our fixed and mobile networks. We also help to identify new markets and new opportunities for expansion by putting together the right analytics and the right market assessments to understand where the opportunities really exist with existing or new customer segments.

As a veteran in the telecom industry across multiple markets, what is your take on the digital transformation impacting the industry? What are the key drivers behind it?

Digital transformation has been taking place for a while, particularly in a lot of markets that I’ve worked in, including Europe, Africa and North America. The key drivers are clearly to improve the customer experience and to drive down the costs to sell and service, while creating a more efficient company.

We’ve seen plenty of examples of great digital brands being launched and of transformation in the way they activate and the way customers are getting served, resulting in a more streamlined operation, which is critical for any telco in the future. Our businesses are challenged to continue to make sizeable investments in infrastructure.  Without a concerted effort at digitalization, we will struggle to have an operation to support these investments. 

What are the key strategic and operational issues that telecom operators and service providers face? How could these be resolved?

The mentality of transforming our businesses from a ‘telco’ to a ‘digitalco’ is one of the biggest challenges. Legacy systems and sometimes people, will often slow down an organization’s ability to change - so how those systems need to adapt or be replaced is also an important element that operators need to consider. Regarding people, we often see a set mentality on how a telco should work. If you approach this from a digital perspective and really challenge the organization to achieve step changes in efficiency, you start to think about it very differently, and you can end up with a much leaner operation that is fit for purpose in today's age.

Overall, there’s a massive challenge in moving from legacy systems and processes, or the way business is being done, to a more digitally-oriented approach. This requires a more streamlined effort on how you treat customers from all angles.

How do you envision the telecom industry five years from now?

I think that operators are going to face increasing pressures. Currently, we are seeing telcos delayering and disaggregating their assets by selling off their towers or data centers. I think telcos will be more oriented toward service and utilizing digital platforms. We’re going to see more shared networks in five years' time. Moreover, customers will be asking for more services — not just connectivity — that could impact how they manage the way they live, work and play. Increased demand will be there, and this will mean the telecom industry faces significant change in the upcoming years. 

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