6 Trends Transforming The Telecom Industry In 2020

As we enter a new decade, we’ve discovered six new trends that will transform the telecom industry in 2020 and beyond, sourced directly from our global experts in the field.



Digital transformation will shift to business model transformation – Richard Ullenius, Vice President of Global Managed Services

Spend on digital transformation is up around the world, but up to 90 percent of companies report failed expectations from digital transformation. So why are digital transformations not succeeding? It’s because they are often using traditional methods to transform that aren’t directly focused at how they will have maximum impact for their customers. They are often long, costly, and complex. They rarely connect the whole company together and are frequently centered on technology alone. But if companies only look on technological transformation and don’t implement changes across the whole of their business, they’re destined for failure. Transformation in the digital era is as much about cultural shift in how to service the customer, as it is taking advantage of new technologies.

Instead of digital transformation, telecom companies need to focus on business model transformation in 2020. Companies that are able to expand their business model portfolio, stay customer-obsessed, connect the company together around the transformation will succeed in a digital world. Transformation is now a constant and by dynamically responding to change and customer needs, they can achieve successful business model transformation.


The power will shift to the customer – Haifa El Ashkar, Executive Director of Managed Services

As I discussed in my digital disruption blog series, customer experience has to be at the center of whatever companies do. The combination of disruptive technologies like IoT, eSIM, blockchain and digital identity will combine to create the next perfect storm—and commoditize the core business of telecom companies. Customers will be able to access digital services and verify their identities from their smartphone but won’t be tied to a single plan or provider. And that will make it easy for them to cut the phone cord, similar to how cord cutting impacted the cable industry. There will be winners and losers in this scenario, as it plays out over the next two years. But one thing is sure—with customers no longer required to stick with a certain provider customer experience will be even more important than ever.

This is nothing new. The whole industry has been emphasizing the importance of CX for years. But now they’re going to have to go above and beyond, delivering the sorts of exceptional service that organizations like high-end hotel chains provide. To do this, they’re going to need to use even more technology (think conversational AI, machine-learned journey orchestration); but also rethink their business structure, models and culture. I believe a shift in the way telecom companies organize themselves (in the broadest sense of the words) is imminent.


The Forecast for Public Cloud Will be Bright – Chad Dunavant, Head of Global Product Management

According to Forrester, revenues for the public cloud will reach almost $300 billion 2020. And cloud popularity will continue to grow in 2020, especially among operators. Cloud expedites time to market since operators can quickly spin up infrastructures and scale at speed. Public cloud is also distributed and resilient, letting telecom companies access new regions without needing local data center providers.

But one of the most exciting advancements for cloud in 2020 will be its applicability to new 5G use cases. For example, many operators foresee immense growth in the number of partners running applications on their 5G networks. This is where the value of the cloud is truly realized. Operators can now  scale cloud environments based on demand and capacity. Gone are the days when operators had to invest massive amounts of capital before a market launch. Now, they will be able to use cloud economics to test new offerings without investing in large amounts of infrastructure. In addition, operators will be able to leverage cloud platforms to quickly adapt to market changes as new use cases emerge removing the dependence of legacy systems built for specific use cases.


Operators will need to look beyond connectivity to collaboration in order to profit – Ian Watterson, SVP and Managing Director, APAC

The world is more connected than ever before, thanks to technologies like the Internet of Things and blockchain. In fact, by 2025, there will be more than 25 billion connected devices worldwide, according to the GSMA. But as we found in a CSG-commissioned Light Reading study, operators are struggling with how to make money from connectivity alone. In the IoT space, for instance, cellular IoT will only represent 5 percent of revenues.

So, what are telecom companies to do? First and foremost, they need to focus on using their networks to offer value-added services. Telecom companies have built their business on connectivity, but to take that next step to maximize profit will require new digital business models and partnerships. Telecom companies will need to stand up digital ecosystems that can manage revenue-sharing with different partners to deliver value-added services to customers and retain them.


Customer Experiences Will Become End-to-End Journeys – Dave Bukovinsky, Executive Director of Product Management 

Customers expect proactive, personalized and seamless experiences on par with Amazon, Netflix and Uber. So how can companies deliver experiences on par with digital leaders in 2020? By organizing their systems, behind-the-scenes processes, and bridging organizational silos to create a seamless customer experience.

In 2020, we will see more companies use journey orchestration to map out the best way to engage with customers at each stage of their customer lifecycle. Customer engagements consist of an ongoing collection of micro-experiences that form a customer journey. Companies will be able to target these micro-experiences and figure out when to send the right message—at the right time—on the right channel, to surprise and delight their customers and of course, build trust and loyalty.


Seamless payments will be essential for good customer experiences – Jeff Thorness, Senior Vice President and Head of Payments Unit


It’s no longer enough for telecom companies, or any business, to offer the same payment options that have been available for years. Consumer demands, evolving technology, increasing mobility, and growing connectivity all contribute to the shifting focus in payments. In 2020, we expect to see a heavier emphasis on customer experience at the center of all successful payment operations. 


Payments are an integral component of a company’s interaction with its customers, and the customer experience of the payment process should be consistent and optimized across all points of interaction. That goes beyond payment acceptance to include refunds, voids, inquiries and more. A desire for better customer experiences is affecting many industries, including telecom, and payments are an essential part of CX.


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