November 29, 2023

Telco Leaders Discuss the Benefits and Challenges of Digital Transformation – Part Two

For telcos, the days of acquiring and then selling spectrum are almost over, with major growth opportunity shifting to adjacent businesses and the services telcos can sell on top of their core infrastructure.

This change has transformed telcos into software companies, which has been both an adjustment and a major opportunity. This topic was explored during a panel held at DTW23 - Ignite, where six C-level executives joined Netcracker’s CEO Andrew Feinberg to share anecdotes of transitioning from a telco to a techco.

The discussion was full of insights and fascinating real-life experiences, some of which we covered in part one. Here are three more takeaways:

Partnerships Can Help Telcos Accelerate Their Growth
Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO of du, spoke about the need to solve problems collectively – both within the telco and with external partners. “Digital transformation is about people,” he said. “We have learned that creating silos does not work. Existing teams need to work with new teams… and you have to be resilient to accept that things don’t always go to plan.”

“We were very ambitious from the start. We had to find a differential, because we were the challenger brand. We worked with Netcracker to build the full stack and it meant we became the first telco to roll out 5G in the region – and we now have 95% coverage.”

Telcos are Software Companies Now
“Digital transformation brings you out in cold sweat.” This was how John Porter, CEO of Telenet, began his introductory talk. He described how Telenet had completed a series of acquisitions – first into ‘quad play’ and later into fast-growing adjacent verticals such as authentication, digital wallet and media.

These moves turned Telenet from a ‘box moving company’ into a software company. “This has been a challenge, which partnerships have helped to overcome,” Porter said. “Four years ago, we were a box moving company. We’re not that company any more. We are a software company now. Every customer journey and product – it’s all software. And we can always get better at that. Fortunately we have great partners that can help us get there (but only if) we give them a lot of clarity on who does what and end-to-end ownership (of a domain) for the life of this transformation.”

The Uncarrier Ethos: Telcos Must Make It Easy for Brands to Run Their Own Networks
All telcos know that, in the coming 5G standalone era, the ability to slice the network will be a huge opportunity. In the US, T-Mobile believes it is uniquely positioned to succeed thanks to its 5G network and its ethos of being a disruptive ‘uncarrier’ that does things differently.

Dan Thygesen, SVP & GM at T-Mobile, described how T-Mobile will offer ‘wireless as a service’ to accelerate the creation of private networks. “If a brand wants to launch wireless services, we want to eliminate the obstacles – such as having to piecemeal a billing system or an app or an e-commerce site. We’ll do all that on the backend, so they can focus on what drives value for them.”

Learn more about T-Mobile’s transformation of their wholesale business in this video.

This is part two of a two-part summary of the CEO Spotlight: Reimagining Telcos panel session. View the entire video here.


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