Mobile & Telecoms

Digital Transformation: Vendors must help operators navigate uncharted waters

Telecoms operators of all stripes are driving mass scale digital transformation. These are uncharted waters, with the ‘hoped for’ destination, a leaner, more agile and customer-centric organisation, better able to profit from digital services.

However, they’ve hit some turbulent waters on the course of this journey, which has wreaked havoc on their sales and marketing environments. The result? Chaos, confusion and complexity for any vendor looking to sell to them.

CCgroup’s latest Catalyst report Selling to Telcos in the age of Digital Transformation: A Playbook for Vendors in a Changing Sales and Marketing Environment’ explores the impact of digital transformation on global telecoms operators. It uncovers a near-constant state of flux; a convoluted and complex purchasing process; and an increase in levels of support, and demands, being imposed on vendors to support telecoms operators with digital transformation and to drive innovation.

The study, conducted by independent research company Insight Avenue on behalf of CCgroup, points to a continually changing set of senior decision makers and purchasing influencers working in organisations whose ‘final destination’ is subject to sporadic reorientation. Over three-quarters of telcos (77%) have restructured at least once, and almost half at least twice in the last three years. 52% of respondents have changed leadership; and 72% have introduced new Board or senior management roles in the last three years. What’s more, nearly three-quarters (74%) of telcos now see consensus buying as the new norm – which means 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. This is beyond frustrating for vendors, who now need to meet the needs of dozens of influencers – with multiple, relevant messages – over increasingly long purchasing cycles. Without this consensus, they can end up with nothing in return for their investment – 40% of respondents admit that purchases can often be abandoned completely if consensus isn’t reached.

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. 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.

It’s 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. For help overcoming consensus buying to drive new operator wins, download the ‘Selling to telcos in the age of Digital Transformation: A playbook for vendors in a changing sales and marketing environment’ report now.

Written by Paul Nolan


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