The Retrofuturist Chronicles: Pranks a Lot 

How Innovative Telcos Evolve Beyond Connectivity

Episode 9 begins with Miranda turning the tables on Aunt Natalie with the fiendish placement of a bucket of water (or “dihydrogen monoxide,” as Aunt Natalie calls it). Undaunted by her drenching, Aunt Natalie regales Miranda with stories of her time spent repointing the Great Wall of China and her stay in the town of Grappen— when a teenager’s prank resulted in the entire town being dusted with cocoa powder. Is the story true? Perhaps not, but like all of Aunt Natalie’s stories, it highlights a truth. As in any crisis (even those involving chocolate), communities put their telco infrastructure to the test, so Aunt Natalie’s tale highlights yet another way that the concept of the intelligent enterprise is transforming a core industry.

Like businesses in every industry, telco operators are adapting to tectonic shifts in their markets. But the services that telco operators deliver are essential components to the digital transformation of other industries. In other words, businesses can’t become intelligent enterprises without the services that telco operators provide.

So, how are telco companies becoming intelligent enterprises in their own right? First, they’re embracing the experience economy and putting customers at the center of everything they do. Because they don’t operate as monopolies in the way their predecessors did, they’re under intense pressure to defend current market share and profit margin. Second, telco companies are innovating in the area of digital services.  They’re doing more than simply providing connectivity by creating an ecosystem that helps them achieve incremental growth. Here’s a quick look at both:

A customer-centric approach

Telcos are transitioning from a product-centric business model to a paradigm that puts the customer experience at its center. They’re eliminating the gaps between the back office, customer service, and network operations and automating the processes that streamline and simplify the customer experience across all channels. Market leaders will cut the time between insight and action to deliver highly personalized service using a single intelligent platform that can anticipate customer needs and deliver the rich, compelling experiences that help their companies stand out in an increasingly crowded and competitive telco market.

Competing as an ecosystem

Telcos will also evolve past the generic sell-to and sell-through model toward an ecosystem-driven approach to generate opportunities beyond connectivity alone. In this more connected and collaborative world, telcos must work with new partners and expand their service portfolio. This means partnering with organizations that complement the telco’s core strengths with new capabilities in areas such as customer insight, agile monetization, and intelligent networking. These partnerships will enable telcos to provide industry-specific capabilities in sectors such as healthcare, automotive, and agriculture, as well as new cross-industry capabilities in essential areas such as telematics, cybersecurity, and virtualization.

Facilitating a new era of innovation

In today’s customer-centric era, telco companies no longer have the luxury to dictate terms. They need the ecosystem partners that help them adapt and innovate at the pace the customer demands. That means they need the structural and cultural flexibility to reinvent business models virtually on the fly. By doing so, they can have a transformative impact in some of the most strategic areas for their clients—helping them achieve unprecedented levels of innovation:

  • Supply chains – Tracking and tracing is a critical but costly practice. Telco companies can create new value by facilitating collaboration among the mutually-dependent players in the value chain to simplify the process and drive down costs by creating the platforms that unite the efforts of device and sensor vendors, Internet of Things (IoT) solution providers, and software vendors.
  • Mobility – Communities and governments are looking for convenient, sustainable, and more cost-effective mobility. Telco operators can lead the way in the 5G era by providing the dedicated intelligent connectivity for integrated mobility combined with an innovative business-to-business-to-x (B2B2X) business model.
  • Renewable energy – Through IoT infrastructure and advanced analytics, telcos are well positioned to help the energy industry intelligently reduce consumption and make smart grids the de facto standard.

The network is the glue that brings together the dramatic business transformation happening across every industry. It provides access to knowledge and essential services and forges stronger ties between businesses and the communities they serve. By becoming intelligent enterprises, telcos will play the leading role in helping business, governments, and individuals realize their potential. Visit for more on how SAP can help you capitalize on the innovations that are breaking new ground in telecommunications. You can also take our self-assessment to see how far you’ve progressed on your journey toward becoming an intelligent enterprise.