Telecommunications as an industry has changed along with people's need to connect—faster, more reliably and free from physical constraints. This resilient industry has progressed from landline telephones and dial-up internet connections to delivering mobile-first connectivity to customers constantly on the go.
Telecom companies, also known as "telcos," aiming to stay competitive in this rapidly shifting marketplace must figure out how to deliver the products and services people want, consistently—and at a cost that allows them to earn the margins they need to stay afloat. It's a delicate balancing act that requires both insight into what customers really care about and the technological capability to provide it.
Here are five of the major challenges facing the communications industry today.
#1: Growing Volumes, Shrinking Revenues
Increasing customer demand usually means more revenue, right? Not always. As one telecommunications director recently said at an international industry conference, telecommunications is "the only industry where volumes are growing 40 to 60 percent a year, but revenues are shrinking."
According to International Telecommunication Union News, this means telecommunications looking to "reverse downward revenue trends and connect more customers to more new services worldwide" must:
- Transform their business models
- Overhaul operational procedures
- Redo human resources training and recruitment
Luckily, telecoms are already sitting on useful insights and answers within the billions of rows of stored data they've inevitably amassed. The latest in communications analytics helps organizations turn structured data into insights they can act on. Using tools like relational search from ThoughtSpot, decision-makers within telecom organizations can get instant answers, then put this intel into action. Nowadays, better business intelligence means better business outcomes.
#2: Expectations to Mitigate Cybersecurity Risk
Telecoms continue to deal with network cybersecurity risks. Customers expect their carriers to keep their personal information and networks safe. Since new threats are constantly on the horizon, this means companies must stay ever-vigilant in the fight against data breaches and malicious hacks. Earning new business and retaining existing customers will increasingly become a matter of demonstrating commitment to mitigating cybersecurity risk—and stopping attacks before they happen, lest companies experience damaged customer trust in the wake of a successful attack.
#3: Rapid Internet of Things (IoT) Expansion
The IoT is an exciting frontier telecoms will continue to explore. The fact so many devices are becoming capable of connecting to data networks is exciting. It's a significant opportunity for enterprising telcos looking to expand their offerings and accommodate people's desire for increased interconnectivity. But it's also a challenge and significant undertaking to get it right—and figure out how to monetize these efforts.
When it comes to telcos' role in the expanding IoT, reliability and privacy will be among the most pressing issues.
#4: Increasing Need to Diversify Offerings
Turning a profit in the competitive telecommunications industry will require more and more diversification. Complacency can mean financial death for your bottom line. It will become progressively important for telcos to expand upon their core offerings and to tap new markets.
Here's what Computer Weekly predicts: Telcos will continue to expand into content, cloud and financial services, among others.
#5: The Demand for Responsive Customer Service
Responsive customer service will continue to make or break companies' reputations and bottom lines. How telcos handle service outages and customer complaints will play an even larger role in customer loyalty or lack thereof. People expect a timely response, whether they tag the company in a social media post or engage in a live chat with a customer service specialist. Reducing customer churn requires companies to offer accessible, helpful customer service in all situations.
These five challenges facing the communications industry are opportunities in disguise for companies looking to distinguish themselves in a rapidly evolving market.
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