In the latest webinar from Total Telecom in partnership with Cloudsense, an expert panel discussed the key growth drivers for the B2B market as well as how strategies need to adapt in this increasingly digital age

When it comes to the overall revenue generation strategies for global telecoms operators, traditionally we have seen a major focus primarily on capturing growth in the consumer segment. 

But the world is changing. 

Even before the coronavirus pandemic forced digital transformation upon businesses around the world, operators were already coming to realise that the B2B market was set for enormous growth, with demand surging for bespoke connectivity services to meet an enterprise’s specific needs. Meanwhile the consumer market was stagnating, suffering under intense competition and the disruption of new over-the-top (OTT) service providers. 

As a result of this changing environment, telcos must adapt their business models, transforming from a traditional telcos to integrated ICT services companies.

“We think that the most important role in the future will be that of a super integrator,” explained Antonietta Mastroianni, Chief Digital & IT Officer at Proximus, speaking at Total Telecom’s How to capitalise on your sales opportunities in the booming B2B enterprise market webinar. “This will mean a major shift from the standard IT architecture that was very much focussed on operations support systems (OSS) and business support systems (BSS), into something which is much more modular.”

In many cases, customer appetite is shifting towards buying a bundle of capabilities from the operator, including software, services, and connectivity. To deliver on this demand, operators will often require new partners, creating an offering that makes use of their connectivity to integrate capabilities and services from a third party. 

In short, success in the B2B market will require additional flexibility that simply cannot be achieved alone.

“You can’t monopolise creativity,” said Nikos Angelopoulos, Group CIO at MTN. “This creativity will often come from an ecosystem, not just from inside the operator alone, and therefore collaboration will be crucial.”

The panellists noted that the drive for new services was enormous and, interestingly, was being seen from businesses of varying types and sizes. 

“You’ll find that different types of companies, depending on their appetite and their style or character, will be early or later in the adoption cycle. We see SMEs doing very exciting stuff, being very curious and hungry to explore capabilities, but also very large organisations – in our case, for example, major mining conglomerates that have mines all over the continent – demanding private 5G networks. There is a lot of variety and interest when it comes to these sorts of products,” explained Angelopoulos.

Angela Maragopoulou, Deutsche Telekom’s CIO B2B, noted that telcos had actually been “slightly late in recognising and meeting the need” presented by enterprises, noting that in Germany and central Europe the automotive industry had been a key player in driving demand.

But, of course, the challenge for telcos lies not only in the creation of high quality service offerings, but also in how these services are packaged, marketed, and ultimately delivered to the customers.

“What we’re learning is not just what kinds of products the customers want to buy, but how they want to buy them,” said Alex Fuller, CTO & Co-Founder of Cloudsense. “It’s become increasingly important to give customers convenience and deliver what they want when they want it.”

“There are increasing levels of sophistication of what’s available through digital channels. One of the trends we’re seeing is an increase in the availability of digital engagement right into the more complex areas that would traditionally have been unavailable,” he noted. 

Naturally, many of these new services will revolve around harnessing the power big data, allowing enterprises to gain actionable insights from their operations. But the handling of customer data is challenging too, with issues around security and privacy becoming paramount in recent years. 

“On the one hand, everyone is aware of data privacy, which is of course very important, but at the same time people want to have customised services, both in B2C and B2B,” said Mastroianni. “To find the right balance between these two elements is very difficult. To have the right architecture in place to be able to use data in the right way – and defining the ‘right way’ based on regulations for protecting customers – this will define the success or failure of our strategies and technologies.”

Clearly the demand for end-to-end digital technology solutions have made the B2B market an exciting environment for telcos, but there remain a number of key challenges potentially barring the way of meteoric growth. In this digital age, telcos must be as agile as ever if they are to capitalise on a client base that is increasingly willing to pay more for differentiated services.  


To watch the full webinar and learn how the experts are shifting their B2B strategies, register here.

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