The new study conducted by independent research company Insight Avenue, on behalf of CCgroup, explores the impact of digital transformation on telecoms operators (telcos) across the globe. It uncovers a near-constant state of flux; a convoluted and complex purchasing process; and an increase in the levels of support, and demands, being imposed on vendors to support telcos with digital transformation and to drive innovation.
86% of respondents are either under way or planning their digital transformation journeys, however, over three-quarters (77%) have restructured at least once, and almost half at least twice in the last three years. Whats more 52% of telcos have changed leadership; and 72% have introduced new Board or senior management roles in the last three years. Unsurprisingly, a clear majority (84%) are adamant that in five years time, will have evolved into completely different type of businesses. These uncharted waters combined with a near-constant state of flux, are causing telcos to look towards the vendor community to help them transform. Over three-quarters (78%) say they are more demanding of vendors as the landscape becomes more complex, and a staggering 98% are looking to vendors to play a bigger role in driving innovation to support digital transformation.
The report uncovered the turbulent effect this has – and is continuing to have on telcos procurement processes, and vendor sales and marketing. Of those polled:
- The vast majority (95%) of those surveyed openly accept that they have placed a greater focus on longer term return on investment (ROI) and that business spending is under more scrutiny internally.
- Nearly three-quarters (74%) of telcos now see consensus buying as the new norm – purchasing decisions now involve more people (the mean is 38 but can be more than 100 in some cases) and take longer (up to 45 weeks) to complete.
- 70% believe the number of people involved in decision making will increase over the next two years.
- Worryingly, 40% of respondents admit that purchases can often be abandoned completely if consensus isnt reached.
Our research points to a continually changing set of senior decision makers and purchasing influencers working in organisations whose final destination is subject to sporadic reorientation, explained Niki Hutchinson, Head of Mobile & Telecoms, CCgroup. This is beyond frustrating for vendors, who now need to meet the needs of dozens of influencers with multiple, relevant messaging – over increasingly long purchasing cycles. Without this consensus, they can end up with nothing in return for their investment.
But operators are not without their own frustrations when it comes to their suppliers. Lack of subject matter expertise, little understanding of this internal complexity and the need to engage multiple stakeholders, and a failure to be flexible are all hindering the vendor case. Its clear that telco digital transformation is an opportunity for vendors to play a leading role in but to properly capitalise on this opportunity requires a sales and marketing strategy rethink.
The research concludes that vendors face a difficult sales and marketing journey, having to meet the needs of dozens of influencers over increasingly long purchase cycles. Deep understanding of the audience must come to the fore to help drive the tailoring of messages to numerous decision-makers. Unsurprisingly, beyond cost, vendor reputation and standing in the industry is the most important selection criteria for telcos. Almost three- quarters (74%) of respondents believe that the IT or trade media is the most helpful source of information when shortlisting vendors, 56% favour industry analysts. Vendors should be maximising both channels: the IT and trade media to showcase their own industry thought leadership and knowledge; and industry analysts who can assess the strengths and weaknesses of all vendors in all sectors.