Unlocking 5G by Driving Digital Adoption

By: Xabier Miqueo

Over the past year or two, we’ve all heard an almost endless amount of chatter (think media articles, analyst presentations, vendor blogs, and expert briefings) about 5G, innovative digital services, big data, digitization, and the incoming network revolution. That’s the digital network to you and me.

This is all well and good, but let’s consider the possibility that this next-generation telecom world could end up being all sound and fury, but actually signify nothing. What if I pull out my nifty, does-everything-you-could-possibly-imagine iPhone 13 (yes, I know, but let’s pretend it’s already here), it latches onto my service provider’s 5G network; and…I call my mum. Every night. And that’s it.

An exaggeration, perhaps, because this isn’t how every subscriber uses his or her digital device, but relevant to a considerable number of us—which poses a problem for the industry. Building the 5G bridge is an impressive achievement, with the potential to unlock a myriad of new revenue streams. But new bridge or not, you still have to get people to cross it. To want to cross it. So, just suppose we’ve built 5G and no one comes.

Enter the critical issue of digital adoption. Now that 5G is here (in some places) and on its way (in others), the focus needs to expand from build-out to usage, because only when digital adoption is realized, and digital tools are used to their fullest capacity, will the digital era begin to pay off. My nifty iPhone 13 may be a digital tool, but it’s not a digital asset if I use it only to phone my mum from time to time.

I’m a case study typical of many communication service providers’ (CSP) customers, falling way short of converting myself into a real, digital asset. This is an issue that CSPs have to address. The challenge of digital adoption now represents a priority for the industry. The question is simple: How can CSPs accelerate the time-to-competency for users of their new, digital tools?

Figure 1: How modern loyalty programs deliver more value
[click to enlarge]

For a start, service providers are well aware that in their highly competitive, choice-abundant market, they must keep their customers happy by focusing on the customer experience they provide. So, their own digital transformations must from the outset prioritize digital adoption and allocate budget to it. There is a compelling reason for doing this: sustainable business growth is directly linked to the ability to create long-term relationships with customers. As can be seen in Figure 1 (above), digital adoption drives many business targets and prepares organizations for capturing the elusive sustainable growth.

Building is only the beginning

Building is the start of the digital adoption journey. To understand why this is so, the fundamental point to understand is that digitization essentially refers to new mechanisms by which telecoms services are delivered. These mechanisms (the 5G network, for example) provide CSPs with multiple new commercial opportunities via an expanded roster of services that can now be supported and delivered. Furthermore, the data that is accumulated in the execution of these services can be put to work to increase revenues again, meaning the beneficial impact that digitized networks and services can have on subscriber acquisition and retention is exponentially increased.


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