At Carriers World 2018, Total Telecom met up with Tom Homer, CEO for EMEA at Telstra to discuss the key trends effecting the industry today

What challenges are operators facing in the market today?

As always, speed and scale and what that means for carriers and their customers.

Digital transformation of businesses is driving unprecedented demand for technology services that carriers can provide.  But it is never moving in a uniform pace, every company and industry is at a different place in its digital transformation journey.

There is always uncertainty, but also opportunity.  One of the key challenges that carriers face, that has been borne out by our research, is that often, clients simply don’t know what questions they should be asking of their technology partners.  As the connectivity technology is now so fundamental to business performance and customer experience, carriers need to be able to understand in greater depth their client’s businesses and how they can provide solutions that deliver a real competitive advantage (at speed and scale).

In turn, as carriers are becoming more critical in delivering for customers’ customers, deeper issues arise such as customer experience (as a competitive advantage), the need to streamline operations to help reduce costs and underpin business growth and help to drive innovation through the organisation.

Our joint research with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has shown that over half (55%) of businesses feel frustrated with their current technology partner.

So carriers need to take a deeper collaborative approach as the technology provision becomes part of the offering.  The EIU research that 56% of senior executives said that having a high profile technology partner is viewed positively by their customers.  Furthermore, 70% of those surveyed thought that businesses without those partnerships in place would soon become a thing of the past.

On a technology level, carriers need to ensure that the underlying infrastructure needs to be incredibly agile to deliver appropriate margins


What new technologies are coming to market to help them meet those challenges?

There are considerable opportunities on the horizon.  Research firm GlobalData recently issued a report that notes; “Service portfolios are being enhanced with a set of digital services and software-driven network solutions ranging from bandwidth on-demand to full-fledged security propositions.”

Technologies that will deliver intelligent, high bandwidth and low latency managed networks will be critical for carriers to deliver at scale whilst maintaining margin.

New kinds of networks are being developed that are software defined so are able to adapt quickly, learn to improve their own performance and evolve with the organisation.  For carriers, this will improve efficiency, flexibility and the speed with which customers will be able to manage their network services.

At Telstra, our Programmable Network enables near real-time on-demand connectivity to the cloud and smart data centres which is transforming the network management experience. 


How are business models changing within the industry?

We are working more collaboratively with customers than ever before and we are seeing the technologies being integrated into the customer experience so our business is becoming more consultative in its approach as it delivers more business critical solutions.

A deep domain knowledge of the network infrastructure is and how to get the best price performance out of it for the specific job in hand is now more critical than ever so the network provision is rarely white labelled anymore.

Knowing where you excel and where you are stronger through strategic partnerships is also vital in being able to deliver the solution effectively.

We are also seeing various value added services around data and security as regulatory environments evolve and therefore carrier businesses are becoming more important in delivering compliance.


Can you rely on traditional revenue streams in the current climate, or do operators need to think outside the box?

All businesses need to continue to evolve and challenge the status quo – only by doing so do we find the breakthroughs that eventually become the industry norms.

Digital transformation and the resulting additional technological complexity results in more opportunities for carriers and network providers.

As what carriers deliver is now becoming a fundamental element of the ultimate customer experience then there are plenty of opportunities to go deeper and offer more consultative services.

Carriers can now offer more specific products to meet the needs of customers and then keep looking at how that can be improved in individual businesses to deliver against the metrics that matter most to that business.

Developing a deeper understanding of client’s markets and businesses presents an opportunity to add more value both in terms of the solutions provided but also where to focus innovation to ensure service delivery can always be improved.

Smart partnerships also open up further opportunities as these providers can have different domain knowledge and expertise that can be deployed with other clients.


What predictions do you have for the industry over the course of the next few months?

Now we have confirmation that in the UK, the West Midlands will receive public funding for the test 5G network we expect to see a lot of activity in this area.

As most mobile manufacturers have already announced their handsets I expect the pace to pick up.

I expect we will start to see a lot more internet enabled products as 5G helps to solve the problems of multiple devices connecting to the base stations.

The applications are likely to take a leap forward too with the police already talking about streaming CCTV footage from buses which would not have been possible before.