Telco’s Transformation: Tata’s Sandeep Bhatnagar finds opportunities in a changing landscape

Sandeep Bhatnagar_Tata

Every business relies on telecommunications to perform the essential functions of its day to day operation, and not one industry or sector isn’t affected by changes to the world of telco. The increasing ubuiqity of digital services and technologies has resulted in massive shifts to the way communication itself is conducted, and many companies are struggling to keep up with the pace of change. Consulting caught up with Tata Communications Transformation Services’ CEO Sandeep Bhatnagar to talk about the nuts and bolts of the changing telco landscape, the consulting opportunities it presents, and how companies can best prepare themselves to keep up with the latest technology.

Consulting: What is the biggest trend you’re seeing in telco transformation as a result of the digital revolution?

Bhatnagar: Digitization is the next wave of the Internet, presenting tremendous opportunities for service providers to grow their service revenues. Service providers now rely on innovative technologies such as network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) for operational agility and for providing the true end-to-end digital experience that users seek. The key to maximizing on these technologies involves choosing the right orchestration solution. There is also an increasing shift in the patterns of consumption of digital services both in the B2B and B2C markets and this is the major driving force behind the telco transformation. There is increased expectation for on-demand and ubiquitous delivery of new age data, voice and video services across devices, sensors, networks and a plethora of consumer as well as enterprise applications. Non-traditional players are disrupting the established business models, rapidly adopting tech innovations and successfully demonstrating delivery excellence at the internet scale, much ahead of the telcos. This has eroded the topline and dented the bottom-line for most telcos. While telcos have woken-up to the challenge, they have yet to pick up the desired pace to transform their legacy operations and processes, accelerate virtualization, and are still struggling to find a credible business case for capital expenditure on newer technologies such as 5G and IoT.

Consulting: How will the future look for Telcos as a result?

Bhatnagar: Telcos will continue to evolve and seek differentiation through network quality, product and service portfolio reorganization, embrace new technologies and analyze customer and network data to manage the demands of the hyper connected customers. In our experience of working with leading communication service providers, we believe that Telcos will take a step further and become predictive, proactive and innovative in their approach to offer enhanced customer satisfaction and retention that accelerate revenue and transform their operations. Telcos will ensure that they have a value proposition for hundreds of micro segments, and a competitive product mix, which can be customized and ensure Quality of Service (QoS) that is available 24×7. They will strive to scale their operations through in-market M&A and further augment it through cross-border deals. Telcos will eventually need to strike the right balance of strength, agility and leanness as they build a trusted customer relationship with agility and customer focus.

Consulting:  What are the big consulting opportunities that will arise from the changing telco transformation landscape?

Bhatnagar: The transformation journey is neither easy nor a linear set of requirements. It is often careful consideration of various options around technology, process, people, culture and operating models. The transformation initiatives will have to be aligned to the overall business strategy and should be aimed at regaining competitiveness and securing a better operational and commercial position for communication service providers (CSPs). We believe there will be growing demand for consulting and telco transformation service partners who can help operators clearly define their transformation requirements and also help orchestrate the actual transformation on the ground. The pertinent questions around which CSPs will need help from partners are around the following questions such as, what is the business case for transformation, can the telco afford a far reaching transformation per gram, who does it directly impact, who should be involved, and what is the starting point?

Consulting: What are some of the biggest challenges clients will face as they adapt?

Bhatnagar: As Communication Service Providers (CSPs) start their transformation journey to become Digital Service Providers (DSPs), the biggest challenge will be around people and the cultural aspect of transformation. As businesses leverage technology and automation in their transformation journey, various roles, functions and capability matrices around people process and technology will shift. It will then become imperative for the various business and technology teams to acquire new skills, understand newer technology domains and practices such as DevOps and learn to thrive in an environment where everything is built around the customer demand. We have seen some of these manifest in the form of functional reorganizations such as network and IT teams reporting to a common technology head where it is important to establish collaboration between teams so that they are equipped to support the business. New skills and competence development is another big challenge for telcos as there is a need for IT to understand the network and vice-versa and both the teams need to understand the business. At TCTS, we have careful considerations around these aspects of transformation and we enable our clients to overcome these challenges through structured programs for re-skilling and taking away some of the non-critical functions as a transformation and managed services partner.