Global Markets

Less Than 30% Of Telcos In MEA have a Strategy for Digital Transformation

Fewer than three in 10 telecommunications operators in Africa and the Middle East have established a digital transformation roadmap, putting the region far behind the rest of the world when it comes to monetizing digital sales channels. That’s according to a new report from the Technology Innovation Council commissioned by mobile technology specialists, Upstream.

The report, titled “The Road to Digital”, provides a cutting edge glimpse into how telco operators around the world are preparing for digitalization during a global pandemic that has seen a dramatic increase in the demand for digital services. Despite the huge precedent for digital sales, more than one-third of telcos in the Middle East and Africa are still at least 70 percent dependent on physical channels when it comes to engaging customers and facilitating sales.

This puts telcos in the region at a distinct disadvantage when compared to other markets that are already digging deeper into digital and selling online. More than 70 percent of telcos in Latin America, also regarded as an emerging market, have established actionable blueprints for digitalization. That figure increases to more than 80 percent for the Asia-Pacific region.

Technology a barrier to entry

The report, which delves into the telco digitalization progress region-by-region, concludes that only around half (55 percent) of telcos in the Middle East and Africa have carried out a technology needs assessment – one of the crucial steps in building a roadmap toward a digital-centric future.

Concerns around data management and compliance

More than two-thirds of telco operators in the Middle East and Africa have no data management strategy in place. This suggests that even they had the means and infrastructure to innovate digitally, they may inadvertently put their customers’ data at risk and struggle to retain consumer trust.

Skills gap unknown

The report, which went into great detail around the planning required for digitalization, also concluded that only one in three telco operators in the Middle East and Africa have performed any kind of IT skills assessment.  Telcos in the region are therefore at a disadvantage when it comes to talent acquisition, often slow off the mark to attract capable and appropriate candidates.

Desire to innovate

Despite the region ranking low in many key facets of the digitalization process, telcos are prepared to invest and recognize the advantages of moving to digital sales channels. Eight in every 10 telco operators surveyed in the region ranked ‘automation’ and ‘improved customer experience’ as top drivers for digital innovation.

Data from the report goes onto imply that a phased approach toward digitalization is in the best interests of telcos worldwide in order to ensure interoperability between technology and services, while also maintaining a seamless and uninterrupted customer experience.

Upstream CEO, Dimitris Maniatis, commented: “Telcos in emerging markets like the Middle East and Africa are least prepared for digital innovation, yet arguably the ones that could benefit most. Since the pandemic began, telcos in the region have had to work overtime to ensure that communities stay connected, but being so dependent on physical sales channels has made engaging with customers more difficult than ever before. By accelerating their plans for digitalization and, crucially, putting an achievable roadmap in place to hit their digitalization goals, telcos in the region could dramatically enhance customer engagement and reduce their costs through automation and self-service.”

About the Report & Research

The Report, titled: The Road to Digital: How telcos are migrating from physical to digital to broaden revenue in 2021 and beyond”, highlights the growing opportunity for telcos to grow their customer base and broaden their revenue streams throughout the COVID-19 crisis if they are willing to embrace digital. The study for the “Road to Digital” report was conducted by the Technology Innovation Council (TIC), commissioned by Upstream. Executives from 56 telco operators worldwide were asked, via questionnaires, about their plans for digital transformation. Each provided insight into the benefits and challenges of digitalization, how they use data generated from digital sales, and how they create revenues from physical and digital channels. Regions covered are the Asia Pacific (APAC), Europe, Latin America (LATAM), North America, and the Middle East/Africa (ME/A).

About Upstream

Upstream is the go-to technology partner for enterprises in emerging markets seeking to achieve digital growth. As a leader in mobile technology -for the past 20 years- we provide innovative solutions that speak to 1.2 billion consumers. We help our partners unlock new revenue streams boosting their customer engagement and acquisitions, driving conversions and reducing churn. Our end-to-end solutions invigorate the end customers’ experience and engagement via Upstream’s personalized digital journeys and omnichannel approach. We make migration to digital sales only a matter of weeks with no need for upfront investments. And all this with a unique added layer of digital transaction security powered by our award-winning security platform, Secure-D, driving fraud-free revenue and end-user protection. Upstream currently works with more than 60 companies in Telco, Insurance and Retail in over 45 countries in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

About TIC

The Technology Innovation Council (TIC), part of Sonus Research, is a unique research initiative run by research analysts from the telecommunications and technology industries. Members of TIC are telecommunications executives who provide insight into business and technology trends.

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