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Telcos must prioritize innovations that extend beyond networking

Telecommunications vendors shouldn’t offer services equivalent to offerings from cloud vendors -- they should offer differentiated and complimentary services that are focused on their core strengths.
Written by Forrester Research, Contributor

Since the birth of cloud computing in early 2000, telecommunications companies have seen business growth thanks to these IT transformational partners. But as we head into the next 20 years of this digital transformation era, no one in the networking space should keep their focus purely on their networking business. With the emerging technologies of 5G, edge computing, SDN, and AI coming to market more aggressively, network providers need to expand themselves into leveraging these services and providing their benefits as business-expanding innovations.

Most telecommunications firms, thus far, have been enabling cloud vendors to offer these services via their networks rather than enabling these values themselves. Doing so moves the highest revenues and profit margins from network traffic away from them -- not good.

To overcome this doesn't necessarily mean being a fast follower of the cloud vendors and attempting to provide equivalent services; such an approach will rarely win. Instead, telecommunications vendors should look at how they can offer differentiated and potentially complimentary services focused on their core strengths, geographic reach, and leverage of 5G and other networking and compute advances.

Thankfully, we are starting to see such innovative moves -- many of which were called out by PTC.org earlier this year. Among the awards given:

  • Bangla Trac Solutions created a crowdsourced parking platform for commuters in Dhaka, Bangladesh called "Yes Parking." To help ease traffic congestion due to unauthorized parking in the city, companies use this platform to register their parking spaces for rental on an hourly basis. The platform serves as a digital parking place for commuters to locate and reserve spots and minimize the congestion of cars during high-traffic times.
  • Kyushu University & Grameen Communications crafted Social Services on Wheels (SSW), a ride-sharing model with a voice-based interface to increase access to social services for rural dwellers in developing countries. SSW is based on a community vehicle that provides multiple services at different times of the day based on the mobility patterns of people in low-income rural communities — from taking female students safely to and from school to taking healthcare and educational workers to designated service points, allowing villagers to access telemedicine and internet services.
  • Belau Submarine Cable Corporation established a new high-speed submarine fiber-optic cable service that has empowered the people of Palau, an island nation that has historically been dependent on expensive and unreliable satellite connectivity to the rest of the world. This innovative new service has accelerated integration between Palau and other Pacific island nations, rapidly transforming Palau into a more globally engaged society, driving private sector development, and improving social services across the board.
  • Sky and Space Global (SAS) was the first in the world to launch interlinking nano-satellites to create a mesh network in space called the "3 Diamonds" that delivers connectivity to billions of unconnected people, businesses, and machines in remote geographies worldwide. The 3 Diamonds proof of concept serves as a successful demonstration of the complete services that such a nano-satellite system can provide, including voice and messaging, emergency response, international calling, IoT, and asset tracking.

If you work in the telco industry and your firm is making similar innovation moves, please share these with me, as I will be doing a Forrester report in Q2 focused on these types of innovations and emerging best practices. If you are a telecom customer and have ideas that you would like to see your provider adopt, also please contact me so we can ensure that they have the CX insights they need to drive future market success.

By James Staten, Vice President and Principal Analyst

For more from Forrester on emerging technologies, click here.

This post originally appeared here.

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