Yuri Mohan

By Yuri Mohan, Commercial Manager at TechSoft International

In the telecoms space, voice is no longer the primary revenue driver, Instead, the focus has turned to mobile data. 78% of South Africans have accessed the internet via a mobile device, with the number of mobile internet users in the country totalling close to 48 million. Communication service providers (CSPs) need to provide business and consumer customers with more flexible and customisable solutions catering to their data needs.

The difficulty of reprioritising telecom operations is increased by the requirement to put security and privacy at the forefront. Significant regulatory fines for non-compliance not only hit the financial bottom line of operators and CSPs but also harm the reputation of their brands. Every business and customer become critical in the highly competitive South African mobile market. Much of the future success of any player in the telecom sector relies on them creating more innovative, value-driven products and service bundles relevant to their customers' digital needs.

Take control

Today, people see their mobile connectivity as just another commodity. They do not want to be locked into any network and billed for things that do not match their consumption (think a high number of voice minutes and SMS messages and only a few gigs of data). The normalisation of hybrid work has made it easy to become reliant on access through fixed-line services like fibre or mobile services such as 4G and 5G.

This means that telco network availability capable of supporting peak traffic must be a business priority. Fortunately, South African operators consistently make investments to guarantee that rollouts go smoothly and that their networks can handle today's digital-centric requirements.

As part of this, the arrival of software-driven, virtualised network means it is becoming less about the physical hardware and more about unlocking the maximum potential of what has already been put in place. Additionally, going a software-first route means that CSPs and telcos can leverage cloud-based platforms to deliver more tailored solutions to business and consumer customers.

Think digital

Effectively, modern service providers can focus on three areas to speed up their digital reinvention.

To begin with, companies need to think about extending the infrastructure to support unforeseen business scenarios. CSPs can therefore create a digital environment using the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality to offer corporate customers a variety of use cases beyond the traditional. It all comes down to creating an interoperable environment that integrates advanced technologies with business systems.

Secondly, CSPs need to reconsider how they develop relationships with customers. Today, it is all about putting in place personal and omnichannel experiences. Having complete visibility of customer needs requires the elimination of traditional data silos. Suddenly, it creates personalised experiences across the entire customer journey to increase engagement and satisfaction, resulting in reduced churn.

Finally, the telecom sector can deliver new business models through the evolution of back-end technology. So, CSPs can transform into digital service providers that provide self-service, zero-touch, and personalised solutions to their customer base.

Cloud potential

Servicing modern customers requires an ecosystem that builds on the core strength of a telco (think mobile connectivity) and injects more digital-forward capabilities. This can have massive positive implications for revenue as the telco or CSP can now access vertical markets previously closed to the business. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all approach but rather something that evolves per customer need.

The spin-off from this is that the sector can move away from price-cutting strategies as a differentiator. Instead, they can turn their attention to the digital services they can provide on top of a cloud environment equipping business and consumer customers with solutions they did not have access to before.

Central to this is embracing a powerful analytics platform that helps the telco understand the data at its disposal. This way, it can draw insights and identify new use cases dictated by market demands. A real-time view of customer data usage, engagements, and requirements will equip the operator with the knowledge needed to optimise its network environment in the areas it needs most.

For South African CSPs looking to change their offerings and go-to-market strategies, now is the best time to transform into a digital provider that goes beyond legacy systems and cost-cutting initiatives.

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