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Top 4 Digital Transformation Priorities for African Telcos

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After nearly two decades of uninhibited growth and profitability, African telecoms operators (telcos) are facing the converging forces of digital disruption.

Some of the factors contributing to this are: easily accessible broadband internet, popular over the top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp, and changing consumer needs.

According to Ovum, telco operators will lose out on USD 386 billion between 2012 and 2018 purely because of over-the-top VoIP services cannibalizing voice revenues.

This has sparked the players in the industry to reimagine their business models, shifting away from simple communication services delivery to becoming digital service providers (DSPs) that power their customers’ digital lifestyles.

As the telco gold rush of the past two decades slows down, operators are increasingly looking at owning more of the customer mindshare by creating great brands built on practical usefulness, reliability, innovation, cost, and entertainment.

Telcos are no longer simply looking for revenue-generating customers; the focus is now on creating new revenue opportunities that allow them to sell business and lifestyle services at higher margins.

Telco operators in the African continent are faced with an urgent need to fast-track digital transformation to meet the challenges posed by the new business and consumer environment. Currently, four major digital transformation priorities have emerged. Let’s unpack them one by one.

Priority 1 – Improving the customer experience
Consumers today demand personalised services and products to match their lifestyles.
For telcos, the focus has shifted away from customer relationship management (CRM) to personalised engagement across any device, anywhere, anytime.
According to a global EY telecoms industry study, 82% of telcos consider customer experience (CX) management as a top three (3) priority for the industry.
The increasing demand for personalisation has given rise to the development of unique experiences delivered to match individual customers’ interests.
As customers interact with telcos through their channel of choice – whether email, voice call, social media, or another channel – operators will need to take a non-linear approach to customer engagement.
Here, telcos need a platform that can integrate all channels and provide a single accurate view of a customer.
And by leveraging analytics to improve product development, telcos can enable smarter selling by increasing the relevance of their offer based on individual customer behaviour.

Priority 2 – Big Data and real-time analytics
With a predicted internet population of 3 billion and an expected 30-50 billion connected devices by 2020, the role and importance of big data in the business world cannot be underestimated.
According to the Mobile World Congress, 74% of telco operators believe that the ability to manage big data is a major differentiator in the digital economy.
With an estimated economic impact of USD 4-11 trillion by 2025, the business case is clear.
Telcos have a key role to play, as they are uniquely positioned to bridge physical and digital assets.
With the Internet of Things (IoT) taking grasp, telcos should latch on to become enablers of innovation by leveraging their network assets for connectivity purposes.
By adopting cutting-edge in-memory computing platforms, telcos can also leverage big data from mobile devices, sensors, usage patterns, social media, and geolocation to create a single integrated data set that can inform improved business processes and create optimal customer experiences.
This can also drive real-time insights and unlock new revenue streams. As sensors and IoT devices become increasingly common and affordable, this capability gets amplified.

Priority 3 – Effective workforce engagement
As millennials increasingly enter the workforce, employers are forced to rethink their employee engagement models to accommodate the disruptive expectations and demands of this highly connected, informed, and technology-enabled workforce. According to PwC, millennials will constitute more than 50% of the workforce by 2020.
For African telcos, workforce management is critical due to the on-going digital skills shortage. Operators are relooking how they recruit, retain, and manage employees in a market where talent is a key commodity.
Complexity is also on the rise: many operators do business in multiple countries, across various languages, and under different sets of regulations. Within this context, organisational complexity is driving up costs while slowing down progress.
Telcos that digitise their workforce gain the benefit of total workforce management supported by advanced analytics. As machine learning becomes more pervasive, manual transaction work in areas such as procurement, inventory management, and payment processing become digitised, requiring access to real-time analytics in order to support rule-based decision-making. And with real-time information at their fingertips, field technicians, store employees, and customer service representatives are able to deliver personalised services, exceeding customer expectations.

Priority 4 – Enabling machine learning capabilities to drive innovation
With an estimated market value of USD 47 billion by 2020 according to the IDC, machine learning is bringing new innovation capabilities and improved operations to data-heavy industries around the world, spanning from supply chain to retail to telecoms.
Machine learning can unlock new operational efficiencies by automating manual tasks and speeding up time-to-resolution.
This can play a transformative role in the way telcos conduct finances (through automated payment matching, for example), recruit for top talent (through intelligent job matching), and improve customer service (by gathering, analysing and responding to feedback quickly and efficiently).
Operators should take a platform approach to ensure they have the tools to innovate quickly and deploy machine learning solutions at speed and scale.
In a recent McKinsey report, 40% of all the potential value locked within IoT demands interoperability between IoT systems, which requires a strong platform.
SAP Leonardo is a digital innovation platform that brings together breakthrough technologies such as machine learning, IoT, analytics, big data, and blockchain, all integrated to the in-memory SAP Cloud Platform.
It enables telcos to launch new innovations at scale while unlocking additional revenue opportunities from historical data and processes, and helps to redefine business models at a time when the industry needs it most.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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NCC, NSCDC Ink Agreement on Telecom Infrastructure Protection

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Nigeria Communication Commission and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on Wednesday in Abuja signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to protect critical Telecom infrastructure from vandalism and theft.

 

Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC signed on behalf of the commission, while Abdulahi Gana, commandant-general of NSCDC signed for his organisation.

 

According to Danbatta, the commission is leveraging on the reach of NSCDC to protect telecom infrastructure.

 

He said that the infrastructure were being damaged and at times it could be unintended due to road construction.

 

The executive vice chairman said that the signing of the MoU had further lend credence to NCC’s commitment to secure the lives of Nigerians wherever they live, as well as protecting telecom infrastructure from vandalism across the country.

 

“We are concerned about this infrastructure and, therefore, we pray that through this partnership with NSCDC they will be protected.

 

“ These centres have been put in place to bring relief to Nigerians in distress.  They are provided to offer emergency services between the people in distress and the emergency agencies.

 

On pre-registered SIM Cards,  Danbatta said  that  NCC  would not allow unscrupulous few among the citizens to use preregistered SIM cards to undermine the security of the country.

 

“We must be seen to be doing everything within our mandate to end the use of unregistered SIM cards and, I want to warn those engaging in it to withdraw or the law will catch up with them.

 

“We will do all we can to make sure they are not in circulation. We have taken some measures, in addition to electronic forms to ensure we give a good example of those who willfully use the preregistered SIM cards to  commit fraud.’’

 

He also appreciated the assistance of the Corps to the protection of the centres which served as inter-face with the people.

 

Earlier, the NSCDC commandant-general,  Abdulahi  said that it was the corps mandate to protect critical national infrastructure, adding that they were ready to provide the equipment, and fire arms to protect the national infrastructure.

 

Gana said that the defence corps has offices not only in the 36 states but in the 774 Local Governments.

 

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Government should provide subsidy for LTE deployment in hinterlands- Adeyeye

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By peter oluka

Following the recent deployment of Fourth Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G LTE) network services in mainly in the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, there are growing concerns on the inability of telcos and tier two service providers to replicate same feat in the hinterlands.

According to industry expert, Smile Communications with 800 MHz band spectrum operating a 4G LTE licence for nationwide coverage, it has the best spectrum to reach the rural areas.

But the odds against service providers are numerous.

In a recent interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, Mr. OlusolaTeniola, the president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), suggested that reforms are needed in the telecom sector in a way that it identifies the opportunities that exists in truly exploring the emerging digital realm.

Nodding in agreement Mr. Aderemi Adeyeye, president, Enext Wireless Inc., traced the inability of operators to move to the hinterlands to lack of motivation or incentives from the government.

Although, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) through the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) has tried to support the operators to meet the needs of the underserved areas, experts are of the view there are still economic bottlenecks facing the operators.

Adeyeye said in an interview with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, “In my view, a company like Smile Communications, by the nature of its ownership structure, shouldn’t be expected to have a national focus at the present. Yes, they want to deploy services and make money in the process; I mean there is a very little money for them from the rural areas, so they focus on the cosmopolitan areas where they could make money.

“We started our work when only Smile had LTE for deployment in Nigeria. You can see the quality of their network going down because the customer base has increased, but they are not investing in improving the quality. At the early stage Smile stood out in terms of Quality of Service (QoS). In Victoria Island, for instance, it stood out. Now Glo, MTN and other service providers are focused on LTE in VI and you can see Smile’s quality nose-diving.

“When you have limited spectrum and want to attract a lot of customers, you either have to improve on the engineering so that the spectrum could accommodate more customers or you have additional spectrum you could use to service a segment of the customer base.”

“I think currently, they are focused on getting the most out of their current investment because they seem not to be improving on the engineering of the 10 MHz. We could see it from our data. The way Smile could go to the rural areas is if government mandated them, which might not be advisable.

“Also, they could be given subsidy to achieve that purpose. We also have Bitflux which has a bigger spectrum with 30 MHz bandwidth and its license is also nationwide, even though the frequency is high at 2.3 GHz.

But, to Teniola, Nigeria cannot afford to miss the new Industry 4.0 paradigm which dwells, solely, on digitization.

“We needia reform of the telecom sector in a way that it identifies the opportunities that exists in truly exploring the emerging digital realm.

“The funding of all this is a steeple chase hurdle to the realization of this new future and it requires continuous change in the way regulation and policies are formulated.

“Right now, we are undergoing consolidation in the market what we seek are for the Government to react quickly to these changes and adapt as the technology adapts to the new Industry 4.0. paradigm”, he said.

 

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NCC, NSCDC Signs MOU on Critical Telecommunication Infrastructure Protection

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Left to Right: Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice-Chairman/CEO of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC); and Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, Commandant-General of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) during the sinning of MOU Yesterday.

Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, in line with the Board’s commitment towards achieving measurable and remarkable improvement in the quality of telecommunications services in Nigeria, received further concrete expression when the CEO of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta and his counterpart at the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Abdullahi Muhammadu, signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the head office of the NSCDC yesterday.

The signing of the MOU is the climax of series of meetings, visitations and several discussions between the two organizations that will see greater security and protection provided for telecommunication facilities by the NSCDC’s department of Critical National Infrastructure Protection.

Vandalism and theft of telecom infrastructure and facilities have been central recurring challenges to the attainment of the parameters defining the applicable quality of service standards for specific services in the telecommunication industry in Nigeria.

This year, as part of the efforts of the Commission to ultimately halt the criminalities associated with telecommunication service provision, NCC has organised 6 Zonal Sensitization Workshops for Agencies in the security sector to deepen the understanding of each agency’s role in curbing the crimes undermining the quality of service in the telecom sector.

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