Digital transformation starts with digital culture: MWC panel

25 Feb 2016

For any telco making plans for digital transformation, the place to start is a well-grounded digital culture. After that, everything is relatively easy.

That was a key takeaway from a panel session on digital operators (and how to become one) at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Shelly Swanback, group operating officer for Accenture Digital, described how her company’s first step was to building the foundation of the digital culture and place they wanted.

“We built new workspaces – digital studios that were picked out by the people who were going to use them,” Swanback said. “We developed a new voice that was more personal and fun. We changed the recruiting process – digital talent not only needed the right skills, but also needed to be a good cultural fit to strengthen the digital culture.”

Swanback said that compared to culture-building, the technological aspect of going digital is the easy bit.

“You need that foundation to determine how your digital culture will work. It takes a lot of effort,” she said.

Michael Duncan, CEO of Consumer at Telefónica, described the transition to digital culture as “having a ‘north’ – a focus to take the organization forward with meaning. The most valuable asset is people and talent, so you need to work with them to get it right.”

Duncan also recounted how Telefónica created a separate digital unit to develop digital services, then re-integrated that unit into the core business two years ago for its B2B and B2C segments. “Digital transformation has to be at the core,” he said.

Digital operators also need an attitude to resilience, he added. “You have to drive yourself to innovate, create a culture of innovation that can accept failures as well as successes.”

Also, Duncan said, telcos need to be clear on their priorities for digital transformation.

“We have six, broken into two categories. There’s value proposition priorities: outstanding connectivity, integrated offers and value customer engagement, in which you’re transforming your customer channels where you’re not relying just on call centers to engage with them. Then you have enabler priorities: big data innovation – with strong privacy – end-to-end digitization so the customer can see how they’re using services, and capex and simplification.”

Vasyl Latsanytch, CMO of MTS Group, discussed his company’s initial failure to develop a customer app intended to improve the customer experience. “It’s not enough to be digital, you have to be ‘rightly’ digital.”

As if to underscore the point of the importance of being digital, Accenture Digital Group CEO Mike Sutcliffe also participated on the panel – as a hologram.

Sutcliffe advised telcos that the ones that successfully become DSPs will be in the best position to help their customers do the same.

“As service providers you’re going to be helping other industries to create digital services,” he said. “There’s an opportunity there to use voice, video, augmented reality, holograms and other technologies to enable this.”

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