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“Organizations no longer have the option to continue on as they have — they have to adopt and accelerate digitalization.” That’s the view of Gartner, a leading technology research and consulting company, which goes on to say that business acceleration is more important than ever because of three reasons: COVID-19, costs and operations, and results. And after almost two decades in the telecoms industry, I couldn't agree more.

It’s no secret that telecommunications service providers face significant challenges. On the one hand, over-the-top (OTT) providers have grown larger by investing in research and development without having to pay for infrastructure. On the other hand, CSPs have seen their profits dwindle while their expenses have increased exponentially. They have had to invest constantly in faster, bigger and better data networks to keep the business running while maintaining all the data-hungry services that OTTs offer, but without seeing any of the revenue those services generate. And they have to do it all while paying huge sums to keep their core telephony services up and running. Clearly, something needs to change—and digital is the key to that change.

It’s also no secret that the restrictions associated with COVID-19 have highlighted the benefits of going digital. From e-commerce and M2M to IoT, work-from-home, automation and shorter time-to-market, we have had a good look at the powerful results digital transformation can bring. And that is just the tip of the iceberg; empowered with low-code development, CSPs that embrace digital transformation have an opportunity to beat OTTs at their own game. How? Here’s a list of some of the possibilities:

  • Digital transformation lowers operational costs. Due to the nature of the telecoms business, most CSP networks have a heterogeneous mix of legacy platforms and siloed solutions for various products. Many of those platforms have reached the end-of-life/end-of-service stage, and their maintenance translates into huge operational costs. Digital transformation that enables virtualized services allows CSPs to cost-effectively move beyond those systems to reduce operating expenses.
  • Digital transformation means new CSP-driven services. With the advent of low-code and no-code platforms for telecoms, citizen developers (product owners and business people with no or little programming skills) at CSPs can create and individualize services and applications. These offerings, either OSS or BSS, can be directly and securely integrated with the local telecoms network, with single sign-on (SSO) and unified billing.

    Low code lets CSPs create differentiated solutions to meet the needs of specific groups of users, including verticals such as the SoHo and SME markets—something that can’t be done with global OTT services. By offering real product differentiation from their competitors, CSPs can increase customer retention. And with lower operating costs, they can employ better pricing strategies to achieve higher margins per user.

    Last but not least, with the growing focus on privacy and data protection, CSPs have an advantage against OTTs that host user data in foreign countries (mostly in the US). CSPs are local, secure and familiar businesses for both the public and private sectors, and they can offer convergent services that interact with all third-party AI and IoT apps as well as open APIs that comply with the local regulations and requirements.
  • Digital transformation means faster time-to-market. Reaction times in the telecoms industry have historically been long due to the complexity of the telecoms networks, the huge number of third-party vendors involved in projects, the large number of decision-makers and so forth. But COVID showed CSPs that they could react more quickly to stay competitive. And they now have low-code platforms that use preprogrammed building blocks and microservices that are simple to understand and modify, enabling an 80% reduction in effort compared to traditional coding. At the same time, the active participation of business managers and product people in low-code development means greater responsiveness to the actual needs of the customer. Plus, if a project requires advanced programming skills, there is always the opportunity for the technical experts to join in.
  • Digital transformation means automation. Gone are the times when CSPs needed to invest extensive time and resources in going from development to user acceptance to live environments in order to bring new services online, which was costly and slow. Now, with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), CSPs can move between different environments with the push of a button, reducing the time, resources and costs involved while enabling faster, higher quality results.
  • Digital transformation means CSPs can help their customers embrace their own digital transformation. A low-code platform for telecoms allows CSPs to help their customers embark on their own digital journey. Because low-code and no-code user interfaces are based on building blocks, customers themselves can create and individualize their own services to better enable business outcomes. And by helping their customers achieve better business outcomes, CSPs will be building their own businesses as well.

Feel free to comment on these ideas and the impact of digital transformation in the industry. And if you are interested in learning more, we have e-books and videos that go deeper into this topic. You can also get in touch with me via our website or connect through my LinkedIn profile.

By Metin Sezer who is Deputy CEO of European Computer Telecoms AG (ECT), provider of Telecoms Low Code and agile co-development dedicated to better business outcomes for CSPs and their customers. To learn more about ECT, visit ect-telecoms.com.

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