6 for 2016: key trends to prepare you for the digital revolution

Telecom Asia editors and analysts
Vision 2016

 It’s time to predict the future again. Telecom Asia presents six visions of 2016 from top telecoms/IT analysts, consultants and pundits. And perhaps unsurprisingly, you’ll be hearing a lot about digital disruption and digital transformation, as more telcos take decisive action to transform themselves into digital service providers and take a lead in the digital disruption all around us.  
Not all at once of course. To paraphrase William Gibson, the future won’t be evenly distributed - the Digital Era will happen in phases, and in some markets may not happen for a few more years. Even for markets on the leading edge, digital transformation is a multi-faceted, long-term play.  

But it’s also inevitable, and telcos that haven’t already started making moves (or at least plans) will do so in 2016. The successful strategies, our experts say, will focus on customer experience, fast execution (and fast fail), early recognition of disruption, smart partnerships, and creating teams that “get” digital (which also requires admitting that you don’t get it). 

That last element is the core of any meaningful digital strategy, which is why service providers will (or should) spend a lot of 2016 restructuring their marketing departments into “digital command centers” that enable CMOs to speed up time-to-market, align with an overarching marketing objective, and realizes cost-efficiencies in the long term. 

Digital finance continues to be a sector to watch. Uptake of sexy mobile payment services from Apple and Google may be slow, but it’s what’s happening behind the scenes that really matters as fintech enables the creation of decentralized digital banks. 

You’ll also be hearing a lot about the Internet of Things in 2016 - and almost all of it will be overhyped. But the IoT will continue to have an impact in areas like decentralized computing and industrial apps. And of course there will be plenty of new “things” next year - some may even be useful. 

A common thread throughout all of these is security and privacy. As we edge closer to the Digital Economy, both will become increasingly important, especially when (not if) we see repeats of sensational hacking headlines along the lines of Sony Pictures and Ashley Madison. And smartphones will continue to be a weak link in the security/privacy chain - though perhaps not to the point of BlackPhone 2 becoming the bestselling smartphone in Asia. Or will it?

Six key trends to prepare you for the digital revolution:

  1. Spectrum, security, wallet and watch  
  2. Digital command centers will become organizational imperatives
  3. Five ways to embrace digital disruption
  4. Accelerating growth will alter the fintech picture
  5. The year of industrial-strength IoT
  6. The death (and rebirth) of data privacy

This article was first published in Telecom Asia Vision 2016 Supplement

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