Digital transformation has touched every industry and every market, driving demand for digital services, capabilities and infrastructure. Communications service providers (CSPs) are not immune to the shift toward digitalization. In fact, they’re in the center of it, in essence, fueling the impact of digital transformation.

The telecom market has changed dramatically over the past decade, with mobile devices, over-the-top communication services such as video streaming, the Internet of Things and reduced demand for traditional voice services all acting as major industry disruptors. According to a 2019 IDC report, fixed voice spending will post a 4.8% negative compound annual growth rate over the forecast period and will account for a mere 8.5% of the total telecom services market by 2023.

5G’s looming arrival will only complicate matters for CSPs, which will need to find more cost-effective and efficient ways to deliver a wide range of services to discerning customers.

Fundamental change is necessary to respond to these shifting industry trends, stay relevant in the marketplace and continue delivering high-quality services to an increasingly demanding userbase. CSPs need to embrace digitalization and reshape their organizations from the ground up with future requirements and business goals in mind. Taking that next step in CSP evolution to become digital service providers (DSP) will set up telecom providers for long-term success and growth.

What is a digital service provider?

The better question is what distinguishes a digital service provider from today’s CSPs? After all, many CSPs already provide digital services. That alone does not fully capture the essence of a mature DSP.

A true DSP has completely transformed the way it does business and delivers services to customers. Digital offerings are only one facet of that approach. DSPs optimize virtually every business process and workflow to increase efficiency, speed, accuracy and productivity. Transformation also necessitates an organizational shift that embraces digitalization throughout every aspect of company culture.

In addition, these organizations leverage the latest big data and advanced analytics solutions to guide their decision-making process. Data-driven insights inform everything from customer relationships to product development to service delivery.

Another big piece of the DSP puzzle is the seamless integration of various systems, platforms and applications. Leading digital service providers oversee a unified technology footprint where data seamlessly passes from one area to another.

There are a few other key aspects that characterize true DSPs:

  • Scalable cloud-based infrastructure that supports increased customer demand and market expansion.
  • Widespread automation that accelerates business processes and lets organizations do more with less.
  • Real-time visibility across technology platforms, letting stakeholders see and understand developing circumstances as they unfold.

Digitalization touches every corner of DSP operations, which is why full-scale transformation is required, even if it seems daunting. That work is worth the investment, helping CSPs lay the foundation for future growth while lowering costs and improving service delivery.

To get started on this path, CSPs should look to incorporate a few key technologies and capabilities.

Comprehensive solutions for billing complexities

With the IoT and 5G coming into their own, the logistics of billing are about to become very complicated for telecom providers everywhere. Part of the shift toward digitalization includes replacing or upgrading legacy billing systems with more flexible solutions.

For many organizations, their billing and OSS platforms were never designed to account for the nuances of IoT support and other modern concerns. They may not have the capabilities to measure and bill for such a wide range of services while maintaining perfect accuracy. As a result, their customers may be billed for more data and services than they actually use. Alternatively, CSPs may only be billing for certain devices or network activity, leaving a lot of potential revenue unaccounted for. They may also lack the ability to effectively manage IoT device inventory resulting in errors and inconsistencies that cause both inefficiencies and potentially significant expenses.

More sophisticated cloud-based billing and OSS solutions offer comprehensive billing, automation and workflow capabilities to handle complex billing scenarios and unique challenges. CSPs can accurately bill customers for various services, including fixed and wireless voice and data, VoIP, unified communications, IoT and cloud solutions. They can also easily manage inventory and quickly roll out new plans, features and functionality whenever additional products and services are needed.

CSPs need to adapt to keep up with a rapidly changing industry.Robust digital front office

Customers crave some level of agency and control with their subscriptions and services. Many people want to be able to make changes to accounts, add new products, build additional functionality and troubleshoot performance issues on their own without needing to pick up a phone or reach out to customer support.

A comprehensive digital front office provides customers with the self-service capabilities they’re looking for, letting them manage their accounts and subscriptions as they see fit. A robust platform empowers users to customize and manage numerous aspects of their services. Those may include basic functions like viewing billing invoices and checking on order statuses or more advanced features like self-service troubleshooting.

Depending on the CSP’s specific niche and market, it may also incorporate digital storefronts to allow customers to purchase digital media and products directly through their portal.

Streamlined workflow and business process automation

The lack of end-to-end automation has been a major problem in the telecom industry, preventing service providers from reaching their full potential and maximizing revenue streams. Addressing challenges such as this requires a broad overhaul of internal workflows and processes, as well as upgrades to legacy systems to keep pace with emerging technology and evolving industry trends.

Implementing a cutting-edge billing and OSS system can move CSPs toward digital transformation and improve their business operations without taking on the additional expenses and responsibilities. Choosing a partner who can provide a combination of seamless integration, effortless automation and comprehensive capabilities can ensure a strong foundation for future success and help providers stay agile as their business evolves.

Begin your DSP journey with the right business partner

Embracing digital transformation is a major step forward for service providers, and it will require a great deal of expertise and experience to complete. Working with a knowledgeable business partner that keenly understands where the telecom industry is headed and what technologies provide the best return on investment will make the transition much easier.

IDI Billing Solutions’ team of experts can help chart an effective technology roadmap that paves the way for digitalization without dramatically disrupting day-to-day operations. IDI knows what it takes to reshape an organization and move from a CSP to an industry-leading DSP. Reach out today to find out how IDI can help.