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Moving at the Speed of the Market: Infusing the Start Up Mentality into Legacy Telcos

Rob Roy, Chief Digital Officer, Sprint
Rob Roy, Chief Digital Officer, Sprint

Rob Roy, Chief Digital Officer, Sprint

The shift towards Digital is increasingly challenging legacy telecom providers. Digital native disruptors, Over the Top (OTT) players like WeChat, Facebook, Netflix, and more, threaten core business models and historic sources of revenue. Customer expectations for high quality, immediate digital experiences are ever increasing.These challenges are recognized across the industry but identifying solutions has proven challenging. One core issue has been speed – telcos have not, until now, been able to innovate at the speed of the market. They havelagged agile Digital disruptors who have been able to surge forward fast enough to shape customer expectations and set the bar too high for telcos to match. The game, however, is changing – telcos have set aggressive targets for improving Digital experiences and are restructuring to meet those goals. A key shift amongst telcos is re-imagining the Digital organization and traditional go-to-market models.Telcos are building experimentation-based accelerators and infusing Digital capabilities into all areas of the enterprise to empower rapid innovation.

To move at the speed of the market, telcos are creating a culture of being data-driven and agile with a fast-fail mentality. To liberate resources from traditional constraints, and to infuse much needed insights into real time business decisions, telcos are building innovation accelerators, founded on experimentation platforms,and embedding Digital into the enterprise DNA.

The accelerator model breaks down organizational siloes by co-locating customer experience design, product management, and technology teams. Teams are oriented around burning questions or challenges for the organization – in Sprint’s case an example “north star” question would be how to optimize digital self-service so that customers don’t sacrifice quality for efficiency. Teams have a strong focus on data-driven rapid decisioning and execution. Because of that focus, both analytics and experimentation capabilities are critical to accelerator teams’ success.

The ability to deploy meaningful changes rapidly hinges on customer insights generated by a flexible website with robust experimentation capabilities, complimented by near-real time business reporting tools and an experimentation platform to test capital intensive initiatives. Powered by best-in-class capabilities from Adobe, Pega, Oracle and others, Telco’s can establish a rapid innovation ability. With this capability and a data-driven website, Digital teamscan test, learn, and optimize experiences at scale. Dedicated teams monitor the digital platform continuously and use machine learning capabilities to enhance personalization and content reusability, both for customers and within the enterprise.

While a flexible web platform is critical to specific experimentation to inform personalization and content decisions, the successful telco accelerator also relies upon a more robust experimentation platform to inform capital intensive decisions. Where there is substantial investment required, accelerators are turning towards innovation platforms that enable them to leverage micro services infrastructure and create rapid experimentation capabilities. These innovation platforms allow telcos identify, design, and launch a solution or new experience within days while gathering real world data on an initiatives’ efficacy.

It is by developing accelerators and building data driven rapid experimentation-based cultures that telcos are aggressively enhancing their ability to adapt to the market in real time. Leveraging Digital as a capability equips telcos to be able to move at the speed of the market and fend off OTT competitors while meeting increasing customer demand for digital experiences.

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