Digital transformation isn't just rocking network operators' worlds. It's also changing just about everything for the vendors they rely on to support the transformations. According to a new report from CCgroup, 98% of telcos want their vendors to play a bigger role in driving innovation to support their digital transformations.
That's good news for the vendors, of course, but it also means they need to rise to the occasion as 78% of telecom operators say they are more demanding of their suppliers as the landscape becomes more complex. CCgroup says that vendors need to update how they do business as engaging with telcos is becoming increasingly difficult as well. (See The Telecoms.com Podcast: Let's Get Digital.)
That is because operators are in constant flux internally, as are their purchasing processes, and they're growing frustrated with vendors who can't keep up with their evolving needs. The PR firm surveyed 64 decision makers from operators across the globe and found that, beyond cost, vendor reputation and standing in the industry was the most important selection for telcos, followed by demonstrating understanding of their challenges and patience with processes; and lastly, a strong differentiation from other suppliers.
On the flipside, operators indicated their biggest frustrations with vendors are finding a lack of subject matter expertise, over persistence, lack of flexibility, failing to acknowledge consensus buying behavior by engaging with multiple stakeholders, and a lack of understanding of the complexity of contemporary operator businesses. (See Digitalization Requires Operations Overhaul – Study.)
The operators noted that IT or trade media, especially analysts, are the most important source of information for selecting vendors. As a PR firm, you can bet CCgroup is suggesting good representation is important for vendors as they seek to reach telcos and market themselves as experts. But it's a helpful study in that it illustrates just how big of a change digital transformations are and how they reverberate across the entire ecosystem. (See Culture Hardest to Transform – Sigma CTO.)
One of the most interesting findings was around the rise of consensus buying. With digital transformation involving all departments within an operator, some working together for the first time, an average of 38 different people are now involved in purchasing decisions, often taking as long as 45 weeks to reach a consensus. This is clearly frustrating for vendors, but also for the operators themselves.
It's clear that while digital transformations create more agile, responsive operators, the process of undertaking one is anything but agile. These frustrations won't change operators' plans to transform, but they create a bigger opportunity for vendors to help ease the transition.
Of the 64 operator decision makers surveyed, 86% of operators say their transformations are either underway or they're planning their transformation journeys -- 84% are confident they will evolve into a completely different type of business in five years' time.
— Sarah Thomas, Contributing Editor, Telco Transformation