The World Economic Forum Telecom Industry study findings are recorded in a white paper that records the predictions for the future of the Telecom Industry and the impact of digital transformation. The study was performed with Accenture, was released in January 2017 and contains interesting forecasts describing the importance of the telecom industry in world’s digital transformation and vice versa.

According to the report, digital transformation of telecoms is a $2 trillion opportunity for industry and society. Four digital themes are expected to have the greatest impact over the next decade, and these are:

Networks of the Future. Virtualization and an abstraction of the physical hardware layer promise to fundamentally change the basis of future technological differentiation by creating networks that will be self-aware, self-optimizing, self-healing and self-secure.

Beyond the Pipe. The increased digitization of consumers and businesses presents the telecom industry with important opportunities to extend revenue streams beyond just connectivity – through IoT, digital services and entirely new models of digital communication.

Redefining Customer Engagement. To win the race for customer loyalty and mindshare, the telecom industry will need to increasingly deploy features and tools that deliver delightful digital experiences. This is especially important as customers now expect the high-quality service they receive in one industry to be matched by companies in other sectors.

Bridging the Gap on Innovation. The need for rapid innovation, greater convergence and new services means that telcos must fill key capability gaps using new innovation models and revamped talent strategies for a digital workforce.


Digital Transformation & IoT

According to WEF, IoT is forecasted to be the next major value opportunity across industries.  As providers of key connectivity – between sensors, devices, data centres and people – the telecom ecosystem will be integral to the proliferation of the “internet of everything”.

As the market opportunity from enterprise services could be significant, with up to $75 billion in operating profits up for grabs across consulting, implementation and operational services, Operators are investing to move up the technology stack towards building the platforms, applications, integration and analytics capabilities that unleash the real power of IoT.


Digital Transformation & SDN/NFV

WEF study reveals that although the deployment of SDN and NFV may look like any other industry technology push, many analysts are comparing the scale and scope of the transformation to be equivalent to the introduction of IP-based networks (which enabled the global internet).

WEF white paper mentions that while current adoption levels are negligible, SDN and NFV are forecast to be a fundamental part of telecom networks across the world by 2025, with significant potential benefits for both the industry and its customers.


Digital Transformation & Self Organized Networks (SON)

Autonomous (zero-touch) networks are important in digital transformation. The WEF study mentions that according to some experts, networks are already approaching a point where it will be impossible for human beings to control and manage them by using manual interventions.

The coming years will see automation get smarter and also cover the end-to-end network, including backhaul something now missing. The largest benefit to operators is likely to accrue from the reduction in churn associated with better network quality.


Digital Transformation & OSS/NMS systems

One interesting finding is that the telecom industry’s largest assets – physical infrastructure, national scale of operations and sophisticated front-end (BSS) and back-end (OSS) systems – are turning into one of their largest inhibitors to rapid innovation.

This is because these assets, and specifically the OSS systems are legacy and are not interconnected with BSS systems. Most telcos have yet to overcome key inhibitors on talent, legacy IT systems and unfavorable regulation to compete effectively against internet companies that are faster to market with new products and unhindered by large legacy businesses.


About the World Economic Forum Telecom Industry study

The WEF white papaer forecasts that from 2016 to 2025, gains in the telecom industry are expected to exceed USD 1.2 trillion in cumulative operating profit.

Similarly, the value for society is expected to exceed USD 800 billion – the majority of which will come from connecting the billions of people who are still unconnected to the internet.

You can read more here: World Economic Forum