In the never-ending race of becoming the top telecom provider, digitalization has become a top priority in order to stay relevant with emerging consumer trends and needs. This has not only led many of the traditional providers into re-establishing themselves as digital service providers by adopting a mix of new technology. But it has ultimately also led to us redefining telecom as we know it.
The classic telecom consists of voice, messaging and data service. But with digitalization and new technology and IT-companies being able to create similar offers, it puts pressure on the traditional service providers to embrace new technology and innovative business ideas. We’ve already seen this change in the adoption of cloud in many companies today, but this shift is only moving forward with countless integrations emerging, and the upcoming launch of 5G. The digitalization journey of the telecom industry can therefore mainly be boiled down to three phases; the first being the shift to the cloud, the second by creating integrated solutions, and the third being deep networks integrations required to provide 5G or IoT.
Phase 1 – Digitalization through the cloud
The telecom industry saw its first big transformation when Cloud Communication emerged in the market. Telephony was historically difficult to manage as well as difficult to understand. But with cloud technology, it could swiftly become a user-friendly phenomenon over internet through VoIP. This has not only resulted in services that are much more manageable, but also a reduction in costs, storage, and management of systems. It completely transformed the industry as a whole, with telecom providers being able to offer solutions that are scalable according to needs.
This saw further improvement with the development of UCaaS, which aims to collect and unify all communication tools (including VoIP) in one cloud-based platform within a company. This includes any type of service such as videoconference, collaboration tools, chat, etc. This was mainly developed in order to help companies embed communication in their day-to-day apps and work life. And while we’re still seeing this ongoing shift, we can expect to see this as a standard process in most companies in the future.
Phase 2 – Integrations
While it may seem that we only just saw the cloud transformation, development is moving at lights speed. With emerging co-created solutions and integrations, we’re able to seamlessly connect services in order to create holistic experiences for customers. And as we still remain in the mid-shift era of integrating platforms and services, we will see a fast acceleration in transformation and innovation across industries. By integrating these, we are able to unlock new creativity and automation scenarios – which is all collected in one interface.
Here telecom providers are able to partake in a crucial role by seamlessly integrating telephony and related services in innovative environments, and some that aren’t necessarily built for communication or telephony purposes. This is where the concept of SaaS and CPaaS primarily emerged; with SaaS offering to embed telephony into any application, and with CPaaS working the other way around by integrating applications into a telephony platform.
Phase 3 – Networks – Are you up to speed yet?
What still and always will set telecom apart from IT, is networks. And while network remains as an essential core asset, it will see a shift in focus. Revenues are quickly shifting from network connectivity related to voice, text, data and broadband – to much more advanced services delivered over converged networks. This shift will only fortify telecom providers path into operating more as software companies that operate software defined networks and services rather than traditional media.
Coupled with 5G, this digitalization trend is only set to accelerate and will mark huge opportunity for telecom providers to reinvent their business strategy. Telecom can play a crucial role here in helping the movement of IoT forward as it requires deep network integration. This swift growth of data utilization and connected devices will inevitably require a significant increase in network capacity. And to cope with this expanding bandwidth demand, telecom providers need to focus their efforts on creating scalable networks that can handle these data capacities at any time.
As traditional hardware-based networks exceedingly become outdated with ever-changing computing and storage needs. The telecom industry will play a key role in the design of the 5G network architecture that demands a more flexible solution. This has led to the development of SDN (Software Defined Networks), NFV (Network Function Virtualization) and Zero-Touch Networks, which are all aimed to provide a better fit where numerous characteristics such as rapidly changing user and varying traffic patterns demand a more dynamic approach.
What does the future foretell?
Looking back at the rapid development of the industry, we can only assume that we can expect to see more of it. But one thing the telecom industry will presumably be more familiar with by then, is agile development. The telecom industry is still in its digitalization infancy and will have to act at much more rapid speed in order to adapt. While the cloud movement is still becoming more embraced as we speak, we see a much more welcomed adoption of new integrations. Something that we hope is also reflected with the launch of 5G which primarily operates with telecom’s essential core; networks.