As the shift to digital commerce models gathers pace, a question that often arises is “what can operators learn from other industries that will help them transform?”

The question itself seems to carry a suggestion that Telco must be in some way remiss and that other industries are coping much better with the chill winds of digitalization. A quick look around the broader commercial landscape suggests that this is far from true, however. Amazon’s success in retail, for example, is more than mirrored by the collapse of one old school department store after another. The explosive success of digital leaders like Uber and Airbnb only exposes the inertia of traditional industries that, with a few exceptions, have struggled to come up with a credible response beyond cries of protest.

So, instead of trying to learn from other industries, perhaps Telcos should be looking to outliers and disruptors everywhere for ideas — the “black swans”— rather than the struggling flocks of traditional businesses.

In fact, the closer we look, the clearer it becomes that digital leaders have more in common with one another than with most of the competitors in their chosen verticals. That has much to do with their relative youth as, having for the most part emerged and grown through the internet era, they instinctively align with the expectations of consumers that have done the same. They have what we might call “digital empathy,” recognizing, for example, that:

  • People are spending very large amounts of time online, so businesses need to be primarily web-based and geared to the devices that consumers carry with them everywhere. Consumers also perceive themselves to be time-poor, so processes must be pared back to the minimum required for purchase and realization, as well as being automated — at least to eliminate time online with a CSR.
  • Online users are easily distracted and often have low attention spans. The opportunity to impress the customer may be as little as the few seconds needed to swipe left or right, so propositions have to be simple and uncomplicated, requiring minimal clarification. Benefits must be obvious and pricing straightforward.
  • People respond to what they perceive as “cool” — even when it’s something as every day as mattresses — and are quick to reject anything else, so marketing has to be smart, clear and well-focused.

But is it realistic to expect Telco to adopt these critical success factors? Can established, physically-oriented businesses transform to agile, cloud-based entities? Can they change their analog spots for digital stripes?

New brands like Verizon’s Visible and Celcom’s Yoodo suggest that the challenge is far from insurmountable. These are Telcos, but they’re app-based, with no stores and a super-simple proposition that can be expressed in very few words. They’re clearly thinking digital, and in doing so, demonstrating how easy it is to go from nowhere to everywhere in as little as a few months through powerful marketing and the scalability of digital business.

So, can Telco learn from other industries when so many are struggling with their own evolution? The fact is that no industry has proven immune to the challenge of disruption, but there are digital outliers in almost every vertical from which there are undoubtedly lessons to take. Can Telco learn new tricks from their younger challengers? The answer is that they already are.

Ready to dive deeper?

As digital commerce impacts almost every aspect of our lives, are there more lessons that Telcos need to discover when it comes to digital transformation? Read the in-depth discussion paper, When It Comes to Digital Commerce, What Can Telcos Learn From Other Industries, to find out.

For more ideas on digital strategy, see MATRIXX and 451 Research’s paper Fast Tracking Telcos to Digital Transformation.

Want more information about how leading digital service providers such as Telstra, Vodafone and Yoodo are using MATRIXX solutions to underpin their digital transformation? Visit https://www.matrixx.com/customers/.

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