Five ways to embrace digital disruption

Luc Grimond/Accenture Singapore
23 Dec 2015

We live in exciting times. Industries converge, agile start-ups with new digital business models disrupt incumbents, and machines become more complex and connected. Digital is changing the way we shop, consume content, learn, exercise, travel, pay, and work.

Accenture research indicates that over 50% of ASEAN consumers use expert or company sites to research their purchase decisions. In Malaysia, 60% of customers want more digital channels than currently available to interact with providers.

Operators also face their share of digital disruption from OTT players. More is likely to follow. We see operators face difficult decisions as they plan their way forward. The overall digital direction is often composed of numerous fragmented and siloed digital initiatives without clear ROI targets.

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Vision 2016 Supplement


Operators cannot afford to sit back and wait. They must develop the right capabilities to survive the disruptive storm and become a disruptive force unto themselves.

Five “no regret” capabilities

Winners see the customer experience as a source for competitive advantage and are ready to reinvent their business as customer needs evolve. We believe there are five key capabilities operators need to build to prepare for disruption and even drive it.

Design delightful customer experiences. Success in the digital world requires operators to understand their customers, design unique and satisfying experiences for them, and integrate themselves into ecosystems that provide these broader experiences. For example, telecoms operator 3 created a tool enables users to visualize the charges in their bill - My 3 Service. This experience-driven tool helped the company reduce contacts to customer support significantly, while opening a new channel to interact with customers.

Develop and launch new ideas faster. Operators should learn the principle of “failing fast”: testing new innovations (whether a service or business model) at a rapid pace and making consequent decisions on scaling or discontinuation as rapidly. According to Forrester: “Innovators now bring 10x the ideas to market, at 1/10 the cost, resulting in 100x the innovation.” This results from the digital nature of the ‘new’ disruption.

Recognize disruption early. The underlying principle in sensing disruption is continuity - this means operators must set up regular practices for understanding their entire ecosystem, not only their own industry and customers. They must have accurate understanding of the start-up scene, universities, and technology providers. In September 2015, Singtel announced a partnership with Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefonica “to bridge start-up ecosystems across Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. The partnership aims at catalyzing the growth of eligible start-ups and launching them beyond their respective home markets.”

Build and maintain a digitally savvy team. Executives must be honest with themselves, take a look in the mirror and ask: “Do my teams and I honestly understand digital?”

Fortunately, there are many ways to increase organizational digital savviness - for example, assigning younger employees as digital mentors for senior management or by acquiring talent outside the company.

Partner with others to deliver differentiating digital propositions. Partnering is a fast track to boosting digital skills and capabilities - it requires an open mindset and the ability to identify potential partners, even unorthodox ones, before competitors do. For example, AT&T assertively expanded its Digital Life smart home offering by integrating new products and services, and is currently working with Lutron, Samsung, Qualcomm, and LG to deliver more. Others like Bharti Airtel in India, which launched dedicated WhatsApp plans for its 2G and 3G users, are increasing their partnerships with OTT providers and content providers.

Luc Grimond is managing director, and Janne Pajuniemi is industry strategy manager for Accenture Singapore

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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