Poor network infrastructure undermines all digital transformation initiatives. The major technology building blocks affecting digital business are mobility, cloud, big data insights, and social collaboration. Thus, the key contribution to digital ecosystems by telcos is undoubtedly the provisioning of quality connectivity. However, many telcos we speak to have much larger ambitions. Can telcos increase their role in the digital value chain — and if so, how? Several macro-trends have an impact on the potential for telcos in digital ecosystems:

  • Rising customer sophistication is driving businesses to become more customer-obsessed. Businesses must work with ecosystem partners and vendors to improve customer experiences and drive operational excellence to enhance smart manufacturing, distribution, and supply chains. These operational ecosystems are essential to support the customer in his various life-cycle stages. Ultimately, the future of telcos in the digital context will be decided by their big data, cloud, and service orchestration capabilities.
  • Poor network infrastructure constitutes a major CIO challenge. CIOs at leading companies must support their organizations to take on the role of major ecosystem hubs with the assistance of mobility, cloud, big data insights, and social collaboration. The value and quality of digital ecosystem membership correlates with the quality of network-based interaction and collaboration solutions.
  • Digital fundamentally changes the telcos’ customer relationships. Over the last decade, the role of the telco in the value chain has changed significantly. The emergence of digital ecosystems means that smart devices, the explosion of content — often user-generated and multimedia in nature — and the rise of applications have dramatically undermined the traditional role of the telco and its ability to influence ecosystems.

Most Telcos Are Failing To Address Their Loss Of Influence In The Value Chain

Most telcos are busy devising bolt-on digital strategies to add to their overall group strategies. Instead, telcos — like all other businesses — should digitize their business strategy. But to digitize their business strategy, telcos must re-engineer how their business creates value for customers in the digital age. Without telcos explicitly establishing the interdependence between quality connectivity and digital products and services, the risk is that many CIOs will underestimate the role that the network infrastructure plays for digital ecosystems.

The report The Role Of Telcos In Digital Ecosystems: Gaps Between Ambition And Reality helps CIOs evaluate telcos as vendors in emerging digital ecosystems. We investigate where and how telcos can act as partners for CIOs to deliver insights into consumer behavior and where telcos can provide support for operational ecosystems through enhanced network-centric services. Telcos will be important CIO ecosystem partners for quality connectivity solutions. But only few telcos will become strong digital ecosystem players.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Eastern time (16:00-17:00 W. Europe Standard Time)