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Posted by Dan Bieler on July 14, 2014
The other day, I met with the strategy director of a European telco. Let’s call him Art. We shared an informal discussion about the future of telcos. Personally, I am fairly skeptical about the prospects of telcos to recover ground – in particular in Europe.
Consumers are more concerned about the apps they use and the devices that they have than what connectivity they use, as I outline in the report The Future Of Over-The-Top Services. Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, which measures consumer perceptions of telco services, shows telcos near the bottom of all sector readings.
On the business side, data from Forrester’s Business Technographics® Global Networks And Telecommunications Survey, 2014 shows that business users trust systems integrators and independent solution specialists more than telcos with almost all voice and data service, because they feel that telcos don’t understand their specific business requirements as well.
Add an unfavorable regulatory environment — which, under the umbrella of the net neutrality debate, is about to close the door on commercial relationships regarding quality connectivity between content and network providers — and it becomes difficult to be wildly optimistic about the future of telcos. Yet, this is not where our discussion ended. Art pointed to three major issues where telcos will need shock therapy:
Where I am less optimistic than Art is the ability of telcos to execute on the last two ambitions. Over the past 15 years, the vast majority of telcos have stumbled through an ever-faster-changing ICT environment. The mix of arrogance, complacency, incompetence to react to emerging threats from non-telcos, as well as political unwillingness to support a radical new approach to managing telcos has put telcos on the back foot. Telcos, regulators, and politicians must wake up to the risk of the telcos’ survival if telcos continue business as usual. I am concerned that politics will block meaningful efforts by telcos to undergo shock treatment. But not to shock the telcos into action will cost many more jobs than pushing through a radical agenda. In this I fully agree with Art.
I discuss these themes in a report on the future of telcos.
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