Addressing the Challenges of Digital Transformation in times of Economic Uncertainty

Most communications service providers (CSPs) have already started the journey towards becoming digital service providers (DSPs). But with the global economic downturn impacting budgets, how can operators keep digital transformation plans on track.

CSPs are aware of the importance of digital transformation as a way to meet their customers’ more complex demands, transform the way they work in the B2B segment, and monetize new technologies. However, the spate of changes in business and consumer working practices and purchasing patterns brought about by the global pandemic have made the need for digital transformation more urgent, as the adoption of digital technologies has been accelerated by several years. It is important to have a clear understanding of exactly what the objectives of digital transformation are, how it will benefit the business, and to look at ways to minimize the impact of any delays.

These changes are already directly impacting CSPs, with customers expecting a more integrated digital experience with zero-touch account management and granularity of rating and charging - demands that give meaning to the need for process automation, scalability and flexibility. However, true digital transformation is not just switching to a new technology, but requires making cultural changes within a company. It involves new ways of thinking and working that sometimes can be harder to implement than simply deploying new software. While constant IT development is essential, digital transformation is a long-term investment to future-proof the company both in terms of technological and human capabilities.

Typically, a holistic transformation is required to fully align the enterprise capabilities to customer needs and the strategic objectives of the company, to address at the root the various pain points, and to remove the barriers to successful achievement of these objectives, while capitalizing on the digitalization benefits. Digital transformation impacts all dimensions: technology, processes, organization, skills, culture and behaviour. In the end, a successful digital transformation means businesses are ready to grab new opportunities and monetize emerging demand, with a full range of flexible and expandable capabilities.

How to manage digital transformation in challenging conditions

With a clear understanding of what digital transformation means and the benefits that should flow from a successful transformation, the next step is to consider how to respond when projects need to be rationalized or maybe scaled back in the current challenging economic conditions. The key to resolving these situations is to break the process down and implement digital transformation step by step.

This approach has particular advantages at the present time when budgets are under stronger scrutiny. Digital transformation can be massively complex and overwhelming, particularly when planned as a one-time big-bang deployment. In fact, stalled or partially realized digital transformation projects are more common nowadays than might be expected, and planning big-bang is part of the reason for that. In such project plans, any combination of insufficient human, technology, management or financial resources - or lack of the correct focus during the project - will result in the benefits not being realised.

To avoid these situations, a phased approach to digital transformation provides the solution, combining the best of both worlds: you’ll improve your capabilities and efficiency gradually, while at the same time spreading the costs over a longer period.

Each company has its individual challenges, but as an overall approach, a thorough analysis is needed first to identify the most important issues your business is facing, together with the long-term goals that you’d like to achieve beyond the short-term crisis. This discovery will serve as a basis for defining focus areas, required business outcomes and measurements.

Selecting a partner skilled in managing phased digital transformation projects is crucial. With the support of Etiya’s consultants, and relying on Etiya’s scalable, modular digital BSS, you can plan the phases of your digital transformation in line with your specific needs.

  1. Short term: focus on cost-saving and also on efficiency in key pain points, to improve CX and implement a Connected Customer First approach which prioritizes the digital customer needs
  2. Mid-term: further improvements in efficiency, capabilities and enriched CX as per business/segment priorities, e.g. sales enablement, customer engagement/CRM, and a next-level of cost-saving options, e.g. low-code development
  3. Longer term: capabilities to monetize new technologies

Cost reduction has both short and long-term effects. Legacy systems have high maintenance needs and costs, while Etiya’s cloud-native digital BSS will allow you to make immediate savings in both areas already. A cloud migration strategy should form an integral part of your transformation strategy, outlining required business outcomes, and detailing what cloud(s) and business models to use, what applications to move, the steps of the migration process, and an assessment of associated dependencies and risks.

Besides the most obvious benefits of a simplified IT stack and lower costs there are also ample business advantages, and that leads us to the topics of efficiency and customer experience. New system capabilities from Etiya’s Digital BSS will boost sales efficiency and CX in many ways:

  • ability to create complex, catalog-based product bundles, with shorter time-to-market
  • better personalization of products and experiences through AI-driven insights and predictions
  • in-context, real-time business insights for quicker and more informed decision making
  • increased speed in CPQ offer creation, customer care queries and purchase flows through powerful automation

In times of economic uncertainty, when purchasing power is shrinking, consumers will be more price-sensitive, and more conscious about their product and brand choices. They want tailored offers, from companies where buying and customer care is easy and flexible. Once the crisis is over, those companies who proved themselves in times of hardship will have a better chance to retain their clients. Customer experience is the new differentiator, and Etiya’s solutions provide both tailored offerings and the omni-channel experiences that customers are after.

While currently the main drivers of transformation are cost/efficiency and CX, innovation and new technologies will be at the top of the agenda once growth trends point upwards again, and CSPs need to be prepared for requirements that are as yet unknown. As CSPs slowly but surely transform themselves into DSPs, their offer portfolio will also change: from the typical mobile telco offers they will move to completely new realms. New monetization opportunities will emerge from marketplace and ecosystem capabilities.

These will allow them to create offers in a new dimension: bundles with 3rd party suppliers, including non-telco products, and highly tailored packages as per individual customer needs. CSPs cannot realize the true potential of innovations and new technologies without a full digital transformation and a flexible BSS with advanced ecosystem management functionalities, like zero-touch onboarding, new ways of charging and billing, or partner settlements.

Etiya’s Digital BSS is 5G ready, and works seamlessly with its Network Commerce and Management platform, providing CSPs with 5G ecosystem management capabilities and allowing experimentation with new business models. This is an area where CSPs are still figuring out what will be the “killer application” of this new technology, and what will bring that breakthrough success that everyone is looking for.

Market demand is changing: instead of “simple” products, customers are rather looking for solutions to their problems. When CSPs plan their future operations, this way of thinking must be reflected in their plans as well. Etiya’s digital BSS provides them with the agility and capabilities that are essential in our constantly changing market environment to serve highly demanding customers in line with their expectations. Tighter economies and temporary hardships must not be reasons for companies to stop or delay their transformation journeys if they want to stay in the race long term.

About Etiya

Etiya provides customer experience-focused Digital Transformation with its award-winning BSS portfolio. Founded in 2004, Etiya has more than 1400 employees and offices in 3 continents and 7 countries.

Etiya's microservice-based architecture, DevOps methodology, and AI-driven portfolio provide a competitive advantage to customers by bringing agility, flexibility and efficiency into their business. Etiya’s products have been successfully implemented and proven in Tier1 service providers and have the scalability to handle millions of orders per day, serving over 100 million subscribers worldwide. As a technology solution provider, Etiya aims to be a reliable, long-term stakeholder of CSPs, providing consultancy and implementing solutions offering outstanding customer experiences. Etiya exists to move agilely beyond existing standards in its relationships with customers, in innovation, and in its ambition to grow.

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