Guest blog: Mike Sewart, Director of Digital Services UK & Ireland, Fujitsu
The importance and impact of digital services in our lives has never been more apparent. Whether we are shopping online, paying tax online or collaborating in real time with global colleagues – digital services are now part of everyday life.
In the telecoms market in particular, this burgeoning digital world has completely altered how consumers behave, changing how they use their devices, make calls and access mobile applications. Consumers have high expectations of telecoms providers to provide instant services, such as entertainment on mobile phones, meaning that telecoms need to invest hugely into their networks so they are capable of carrying large amounts of data. If traditional telecom players have not yet jumped on the digital bandwagon, they need to have a rethink fast.
According to new research from Fujitsu looking into the UK’s digital landscape, the telecoms and media sector is one of the best performing in the UK when it comes to digital services; nearly half of consumers (48%) say they are satisfied with the technology services and applications offered. Individual applications perform well too, downloading music or movies is the fifth most used digital service by consumers, falling behind online banking, online shopping and click and collect.
While performing well in delivering digital to consumers, the telecoms and media industry is also ensuring its employees are not left behind, recognising the need to deliver digital throughout the business to succeed. Over half of employees in the media and telecoms sector believe that digital services are important in their day-to-day jobs – the highest of any sector, while telecoms employees also get the most value from and understand the technology services and applications available the most (67% and 95% respectively).
Yet, despite all the benefits that digital services bring to the telecoms sector, there is still more to be done. According to the report, nearly 40% of consumers want the UK to make faster digital progress, with one fifth of consumers admitting that they always opt for digital services when available. Over two thirds (76%) of media and telecoms employees admitted that they would like more invested in digital. In addition, more than 8 in 10 (82%) of media and telecoms employees see digital as vital to the future success of their organisation, compared to the national average of less than three-quarters (73%).
Telecoms are clearly excelling at digital, but they need to get better. Digital competition is now rising in the form of huge technology players who now have the opportunity to invest in this market due to better regulation and economic conditions. Lines are starting to blur between mobile and fixed line access to the Internet for example. Consumers now are able to choose what device to use to watch, play or work on and this is a trend that continues to play out by companies such as EE. Another non-traditional technology company that competes directly with telecoms groups is Apple, who is planning on developing iPad SIM cards – a technology that will compete with traditional phone SIM cards.
Telecom operators are losing control of the customer, especially when they are just providing a basic level of connectivity. As consumers rapidly learn the value of digital through their experiences across all industries, it is important for the telecom and media sectors not to lose sight of the customer in favour of digital. Consumers lie at the heart of the business, and although many are taking advantage of technology services and applications, not everyone is using those services and still prefer human interactions for certain situations.
To meet this challenge, telecom providers need to offer an integrated user experience – online, on devices, on landlines and in-store – to create a fluent service that not only matches the requirements of the customer, but also creates the perfect experience that customers want now and need in the future. By providing a “digital first” approach and keeping a physical presence, mobile operators will be able to stand tall when competing with their rivals in the market and help distinguish themselves as a digital savvy business.
The telecoms industry is a critical cog in the digital wheel. From retail to financial services, many businesses rely on telecom providers to realise their digital offerings. Yet despite this position, the telecoms industry itself still has work to be done to become truly digital. To do this, the telecoms industry needs to look at leveraging digital customers to help create a personal customer experience. Only then will it really stand out from the crowd.