Rapid pace of digitisation and unpredictable economic trends have made it necessary for businesses to keep the focus on the right segments lest they lose relevance.
New research by the World Economic Forum has brought forth the realisation that it’s time to adopt new models of human-centric economic progress. Though not exactly a new concept, the significance of human centricity has interestingly increased manifold in the new-era of digital dynamism.
The recently concluded Telecoms World Middle East conference also touched on various aspects of telco operations that can be improved. All these lead to one common conclusion – a change in strategies is vital and change needs to come as soon as possible. But then, something that can’t be ignored is the fact that it can get quite complicated for decision makers to choose the areas they need to begin with, the areas that they need to allocate the maximum financial and human resources for, and the sequence of transformational changes to go for. At a time when even extremely new businesses have the potential to establish their value proposition strongly before the customers, one bad move might push a company behind its competitors. So, it’s crucial for businesses to choose their priorities extremely wisely.
One such area of high importance for telcos is customer engagement. While one might argue that telcos have nothing to fear since customers don’t change their service providers so often as long as the service quality is maintained, this should never lead to complacency on the part of the operators. Retention shouldn’t be the only thing on the agenda at a time when digital service providers are offering new kinds of services every other day. The competitive arena has got fiercer. There are lots of opportunities that can be monetised but all that begins with building a strong relationship with the customers. If you keep the customers engaged with your brand enough, tomorrow if you launch something new, they shall be interested and willing to experiment it. In the absence of any serious engagement initiatives from the operators, it will be too easy for other service providers to tempt away your once-upon-a-time-loyal customers.
Another area that needs a makeover is the decision-making ability and the agility thereof. Traditionally, telcos have been businesses which didn’t need to change too much too soon. However, that’s no more the case. As the commonly quoted example goes, when a company without any cars of its own is making millions out of transportation and a company without any houses of its own runs such a successful rental business, telcos need to act super fast to match the speeds that the current market demands. They can’t afford to be too scared to try out a new thing with the fear that it might not pay off. The market requires new risks to be taken, and new avenues to be explored. Either red-tapism or the overwhelming baggage of legacy infrastructure should not be allowed to delay the onset of new services. Business models and decision making hierarchies need to be modified accordingly to keep the telcos at the fore of the evolving market.
The next area where telcos need to redirect their focus is innovation- a word whose importance can’t ever be over-emphasised. However, this doesn’t just apply to in-house development of expertise. Great ideas can come from anywhere and the key to a successful business is identifying the right talents and providing them a proper platform to develop their finesse, and thereafter the returns can be reaped by both the innovator as well as the entity that helped it in reaching its full potential. As STC CEO pointed out recently, in spite of so many discussions around digital transformation, the Middle East market has to its credit only two unicorns- Careem and Souq.com. This is an area that definitely needs improvement. Telcos should direct a significant proportion of their resources to innovation and entrepreneurship. Providing funding for creative geniuses can pave a way for newer services and newer revenue streams in the long-run.
The ground is ripe, the opportunities are plenty- what’s required is for the telcos to act with agility and wisdom so that they don’t miss out on leveraging their full potential.