Telcos keen to utilise emerging tech – but it’s a struggle to get there

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It’s a theme which is as old as the hills. Can telcos, not traditionally renowned for their speed and flexibility, keep up with new and innovative technologies? According to a new piece of research from KPMG, the answer is: sort of.

The study, which polled 580 senior executives across 16 countries, found that for telcos who have been proactive in adopting new technologies, more than half (58%) have seen a positive impact on their business operations. Yet just over one in 10 (11%) believe their company has a ‘clear’ strategy to deal with new technologies. By contrast, four in five (79%) fear their firm will struggle to take advantage of areas such as over the top (OTT) services.

Despite the prevailing wind suggesting the cloud ship has sailed – the four leaders in cloud infrastructure continue to grow quicker than the rest of the market – cloud is the most common investment area, cited by 65% of respondents, followed by mobile (64%) marketing platforms (59%), and data and analytics (58%).

However more than half (54%) of respondents fear their organisations are only investing in proven technologies leaving them ‘behind the curve’ – and while that approach may work for companies such as Apple, for operators it’s a different matter altogether.

The report did find that enthusiasm was there for investing in more emerging areas, such as wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as improving the customer experience through new technologies. Yet according to Alex Holt, head of technology, media and telecoms at KPMG’s UK arm, more still needs to be done, particularly with billing information on millions of customers at telcos’ fingertips.

“Disruption is the new normal for telcos,” said Holt. “Businesses across the sector are accustomed to running large networks and customer service operations with significant staff numbers, and many are burdened with traditional ways of thinking and need to undergo a substantial cultural shift to embrace new disruptive technologies.

“To compete effectively, the telco of the future needs to be staffed with digital architects, data scientists and developers to remain agile and the industry has considerable work to do to reach that position,” Holt added.

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