Telecoms operators should be flying high.
Over the past 20 months they have been a linchpin of societies and economies, keeping businesses going, families talking and us all hooked to Netflix. And yet, from February to December 2020, telcos created less value for shareholders than nearly every other sector, according to Bain & Company.
This raises the question: why? Why is a sector that seems so vital and so timely struggling to deliver?
The answer is that telcos are battling multiple, aggressive headwinds, which are hampering their growth. Firstly, they’re facing cost pressures, stemming from the need to constantly maintain and upgrade network infrastructure.
They’re also contending with new customer expectations of experience. Digital leaders, including Amazon, Netflix and Deliveroo, have raised the bar when it comes to fast, seamless self-service, and people are now looking for every B2C interaction to be just as slick. This customer need is also paving the way for new market entrants, ratcheting up competition, which is already high due to the tough regulatory environment.
At the same time telcos, like all organizations, are having to deal with the operational fallout from COVID-19, and the transition to new working models.
Within this context, organizations need to be agile and flex to meet new consumer and employee needs. But this in itself is a challenge for telos, which are often large organizations with established business models and legacy technology infrastructures.
Against this backdrop, it’s clear that powering on in the same direction will be futile – so how can telcos change course and adapt to their new environment?
Look for inspiration
Digital disruption is happening across sectors. Telecoms may be late to the party, but this gives leaders the opportunity to look to other industries for inspiration on how to deal with change. And the finance sector is a rich source of food for thought.
Over the past decade, an explosion of fintechs has transformed the financial services landscape. These have increased competition, but also enabled incumbents to be better. By partnering with fintechs, they have been able to improve efficiency, speed up digital transformation and upgrade their customer experiences.
We’re now seeing a similar phenomenon in the telco space. Here, a new breed of ‘teltechs’ are providing bespoke and off-the-shelf technology solutions to help telcos tackle the same pain points.
Telcos are used to collaborating. The expense of rolling out new infrastructures (first 4G and now 5G), and the opportunity to improve network quality has encouraged operators to join forces and play nicely. However, partnering with a peer is very different to partnering with a technology start-up.
Historically, telcos have under-indexed on external collaboration, and this has contributed to a lack of innovation in the sector. Now, there is a real opportunity for organizations to rectify this and steal a march on the competition by partnering with start-ups and challengers. However, such partnerships will only deliver on their promises if both parties see each other as equals and a proper plan is put in place to integrate the start-up partner.
Over the recent years, a new wave of digital telcos has emerged, focused on providing targeted offerings to specific groups of customers. Now, we’re seeing savvy operators look to emulate their success through self-made challengers, such as giffgaff and VOXI, sub-brands of O2 and Vodafone respectively.
These digital spin-offs can reduce time to market for new propositions and help drive change from within. However, they need to be given the freedom to operate independently. This doesn’t just mean having standalone Product and Tech teams; organizations need to invest in separate Marketing and Sales functions that know how to promote new, innovative solutions. They also need to scrap revenue as a measure of brand success and think more in terms of customers happiness and retention.
Find your niche
Banks have learnt a lot from fintechs, particularly when it comes to creating a great customer experience. However, one thing they have failed to do is choose their niche. Most are still trying to be one-stop-shops for everything, while fintech challengers strive to be the best in one area – be that mortgages, consumer loans or stock trading.
Telco operators need to decide what they want to be known for and really focus on that. The rise of digital telcos is pushing large operators into the infrastructure space. This isn’t a bad thing if they want to be there and work hard at it. But end there by default, and they’re doomed to failure. Equally, if they want to beat the challengers, they need to pick their battle – be that customer service, contract flexibility or coverage – and go into it laser-focused.
Telcos are facing tough challenges, but these come hand-in-hand with opportunities. Those organizations able to look beyond their own four walls and embrace new technologies and partnerships as a means to improve their offering will be best placed to grasp these.
Bring Your Own Device, but Don’t Forget Your Security
BYOD is 34 percent more productive, but at what cost?
As a result of increased remote working, the number of personal devices accessing corporate networks grew 20 percent in 2020 alone, and this is only likely to increase. While connectivity is becoming easier, what about its impact on security? Here Ginelle Bell, UK country manager at business phone system provider Ringover, gives her advice on the bring your own device (BYOD) landscape and what the new normal of business communications looks like today.
A 2021 survey by XpertHR revealed that 97 percent of organisations are implementing or planning to implement hybrid working post-pandemic. This is no surprise considering the recent reintroduction of working from home (WFH) guidelines in the UK. In response, businesses must consider how they can adapt and prepare for further changes. This means ensuring flexibility, without compromising security.
What is BYOD?
BYOD is a business model that enables employees to work from their personal devices byconnecting their tablets, laptops and smartphones to a company network. It’s proven a popular option for small and medium enterprises looking to save on the upfront cost of buying company devices and the associated maintenance expenditure.
However, the need for remote working has now extended BYOD’s appeal to larger organizations. For example, technology company Intel, one of the first large organizations to implement BYOD, reported 5 million hours of productivity gains in its first year of using the method.
Allowing employees to carry out work from their personal devices provides them with greater flexibility and mobility, and even increased productivity. In fact, according to research from Frost & Sullivan, as reported by Samsung Insights, employees working from their own mobile devices can be up to 34 percent more productive than those who don’t. This is often because employees are already proficient users of their own devices, saving set up time and initial familiarization.
While the benefits of BYOD cannot be ignored, its security remains a top concern. Threats from BYOD include cyber hacking, data leaks, as well as the increased risk that personal devices may become lost or stolen, exposing sensitive company data.
Securing the new normal
Now, as remote and hybrid working become solidified into many company set-ups, businesses looking to implement BYOD must thoroughly address its security concerns.
Taking in to account the flexibility between remote and in-office working, and the uncertainty of when life will return to ‘normal’, businesses need to invest in software that helps their employees communicate effectively and securely. Opting for a cloud-based software as a service will be key for secure collaboration and communications management. It is the simplest way to outsource risk and compliance, while ensuring every employee is supported and has secure access on any device.
For example, Ringover’s business cloud communications application can be installed on any personal or company owned device, to enable seamless call handling and performance. It gives employees the greatest possible degree of flexibility when communicating externally.
Furthermore, as calls are transmitted via an internet connection, it provides businesses with peace of mind as they don’t need to be concerned with how calls will be routed, or where data is stored. This is because Ringover’s data is stored on GDPR-compliant data centres located across Europe. Ringover also holds certificates to ensure data is secure and encrypted. This helps to prevent data breaches and security threats, as well as outsourcing regulatory compliance by ensuring registration with appropriate bodies such as the Office of Communications (OFCOM).
As BYOD continues to grow in popularity, its security becomes more difficult to monitor. However, selecting a cloud communications tool that ensures data is secured and encrypted allows businesses to reap the greater flexibility and productivity of this business model while reducing potential security threats.
About Ringover: A leader in cloud communications, Ringover seamlessly combines unlimited calling, group messaging and video conferencing into one easy-to-use app. No expertise is needed to set up and integrates with your CRM or helpdesk tools. Within a few clicks, you’ve gained access to all the data you need to enhance your call centre or sales team’s performance and boost customer engagement.
No loss in productivity, time, or revenue and certainly no more limits.
Protecting your business from mobile security risks
The benefits and uses of mobile device management software
According to the Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021, 39 percent of UK businesses experienced a cybersecurity attack last year. For business owners, this statistic is worrying — risking reputation, integrity, and ultimately commercial success. As we move towards an increasingly technology-centric working world, what should businesses be doing to protect their digital assets? Here, Kristian Torode, Director and Co-Founder of mobile device management software provider Crystaline, explains how technology can keep business mobiles safe.
As remote working has become commonplace, mobile devices for business are no longer just desirable, but essential to communication. However, their popularity is not without its risks. Accessing confidential corporate data from a mobile device presents a multitude of opportunities for cyber attackers to strike.
The risks of mobile devices
Mobile security threats are cyberattacks with the intention of acquiring confidential information from mobile devices. It includes malware and spyware that are designed to gain unauthorised access to a device with the intent of accessing company data and contacts, sending messages and stealing confidential login credentials.
Data is a business’ most valuable asset — be it information on customers, products and services or business strategy. Keeping it secure and confidential is absolutely crucial. With just one security breach from a single employee device, cyber attackers can acquire data on an entire company, putting its whole operations in jeopardy.
Keeping customer data safe is also a legal requirement. The UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK-GDPR) protects consumers’ personal information and controls how businesses store data. Compliance is essential and companies risk a hefty fine if a breach is uncovered. So mobile devices, which are portable and at risk of loss or theft, present businesses with a large security risk.
Keeping data secure
Mobile device management (MDM) is the answer to safe business mobile device usage. It involves monitoring, managing and securing mobile devices, which includes anything from smartphones to tablets and laptops.
MDM software typically boasts several features. The primary purpose of MDM is to monitor the software and applications on a device to ensure that they remain updated and continue to meet security standards. MDM also allows IT teams to track a device’s location so that, if lost or stolen, it can be immediately located. If device recovery is not possible, company data can be removed and the device wiped in minutes.
There are several options of MDM software for businesses. Samsung Knox is designed specifically for Samsung devices, while Vodafone Secure Device Manager (VSDM) is compatible with any device with a Vodafone subscription. For complete carrier and device independence, SOTI Mobicontrol is the best solution.
Crystaline works closely with its customers to determine the right MDM solution for their needs, be it device-specific or completely unrestricted. With a service level agreement (SLA) that covers both incident resolution times and security, customers have peace of mind that their MDM solution is comprehensive, scalable and futureproofed.
Ready for anything
But what exactly does the future of work bring? An increasing need for MDM software. The transformation of working practices over the last two years has left businesses with a dispersed, remote workforce. With Government advice on working from home still constantly changing, remote work is sure to stick around in 2022.
Remote work gives employees the flexibility to work from anywhere, be it their home office or local café. But it also leads to a rise in connections to unsecured, public WiFi networks and a greater risk of losing devices when on the move, which puts confidential data at risk.
There’s also an increase in bring your own device (BYOD) business culture. According to Gartner, 55 per cent of workers are using personal-owned devices for work at least some of the time. Businesses can adopt this policy safely with MDM. IT teams can separate business and personal data on employees’ own devices through tailored privacy policies, to guarantee business data security without impacting on personal mobile usage.
When data breaches strike, their impact is catastrophic for business. So, it’s essential data is kept out of the wrong hands. MDM allows businesses to offer their employees flexibility in how they work without compromising on data security, which is crucial to operating in the unstable, everchanging working world.
Going Virtual: Transforming the Telecom Customer Retail Experience
If world events over the past couple of years taught (and continue to teach) the business world anything, it’s that people can absolutely work and abundantly shop the telecom space from the comforts of home. On top of that, they’ve made it quite clear that they will continue doing both at an accelerated pace, especially the shopping. So, what does this trend mean for the telecom retail space?
First and foremost, it means the entire telecom online, and in-store retail experience must be upgraded to an immensely interactive one that attracts and retains younger consumers, especially Millennials, Gen Z, and the rising Gen Alphas. For these uber tech-savvy individuals and groups, a primarily stagnant brick-and-mortar store or low-tech website isn’t going to cut it moving forward. So, what’s next?
Virtual Telecom Experiences
Telecom retailers need the right technology to take advantage of 5G and AR/VR to address shifting consumer shopping behaviors quickly. This will enable them to create engaging XR experiences that capture consumers, allowing them to find, compare and purchase telecom products like never before. At its core, what makes telecom’s extended reality (XR) immersive experiences better than other customer interactions are enhanced phone comparisons and visual looks at “what’s in the box,” avatar-based engagements, expanded customer touchpoints, contactless interactions, and more.
In the virtual reality (VR)-powered retail experience, retailers can offer an end-to-end smart “endless aisle” to deliver the finest customer engagement. A web VR-enabled solution recreates and enhances the retail store shopping experience by providing a more intuitive and fun-filled solution, enabling customers to basically enjoy a “telecom retail shopping experience on steroids” from their homes or anywhere. This can be done with:
• Endless infrastructure to accommodate more products and services
• Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven conversational interactions to support customers throughout the shopping journey
• Engagement zones to improve brand and loyalty
• Extended partner ecosystem
• Seamless integration with the in-store experience
• An immersive and contextualized shopping experience
To amp up the brick-and-mortar store, an AR-powered in-store solution provides a more engaging and immersive retail experience en-route and at the store. This solution offers an AR-driven “gamified” in-store experience with capabilities to point and discover using a cell phone and a “try-before-you-buy” AR experience. Retailer and consumer benefits include:
• Monetized partner ecosystem
• End-to-end contactless shopping experience
• Extended VR home experience to in-store
• Unique and engaging e-commerce experience
• Customer experience-based segmentation
An In-Store, Digital “What”?
To take the in-store shopping experience even further, especially when stores are super busy, retailers with the right technology and solutions can deliver an AI-powered conversational/interactive digital wall. This live, sales clerk-less solution provides an immersive and conversational experience for improved product exploration and purchase journeys at retail outlets. Some dual benefits include:
• Personalized shopping
• Virtual product lift and comparer
• In-store ID/facial recognition
• Product bundles
• Next-generation payments
• In-store delivery bots
And for retailers…
Robust analytics provide real-time data-driven insights and actionable intelligence. From this information, retailers can deliver customer segmentation and positioning improvements, better track and measure shopper behavioral patterns, gauge the effectiveness of in-store promotions, identify high and low activity zones and product popularity, and streamline store operations. Having performance indicators and analytics representing customer behavior and perceived experiences gives retailers the base to enhance the overall experience.
With the right technology in place, this is just the beginning. For starters, there would be reduced operational costs at telecom retail stores and improved customer satisfaction and NPS scores, leading to enhanced customer acquisition through gamification, rewards, and loyalty programs.
There would also be a faster cycle time in consumers making purchasing decisions thanks to improved upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and more effective marketing campaigns, all due to personalized content and experiences stemming from AI.
Lastly, retailers would see improvement in top-line growth due to increased in-store foot traffic and revenue and online sales by providing a one-stop digital shop to procure products and services.
Taking the shopping experience to the next level
In a nutshell, consumer telecom shopping and buying behaviors are shifting at blinding speed, and it’s up to telecom retailers to change and adapt. Implementing the right XR technology that takes advantage of 5G and AR/VR for more engaging virtual and in-store experiences will take both the consumer telecom shopping experience and sales revenues to an entirely new level.
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