Human Capital Development

CMO Council – Telkom’s Mmathebe Zvobwo talks Data-Informed Telco innovation

mmathebe zvobwo telkom innovation

It is no secret that Telcos’ lunch is under threat. Over The Top applications have dismantled traditional telco business models, with voice and sms being the main victims.

The almost zero marginal cost for information has played a big part in the democratization of innovation. This coupled with the servicification of the economy has seen startups rise and eat Telco lunch.

Telcos are now competing for revenue and attention with bootlegged entrepreneurs who are operating at almost no cost,  which has been mainly driven by the advent of cloud computing. Startups no longer need complex IT infrastructure to play a part in the economy. The almost “Zero Coding” cloud platforms have come in and enabled small players to be able quickly deploy sophisticated systems.

Platforms came and disrupted comunication with Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, WeChat among others having the bulk of the traffic. This is forcing Telcos to think outside the box, they have to,  otherwise they will be Kodaks.

The interesting dynamic is that Telco disruption is done and dusted and the dorminant platforms are focusing on integration and consolidation driven by data science and machine learning.

Telcos have a window of opportunity to take advantage of their assets and data so as to bolster their presence in the new economy via new value-added services. They can also take advantage of favourable legislature around net-neutrality that gives them room to capitalise on the success of OTTs.

Africa has done well in Telco-led mobile money space, namely,  USSD-based GSM systems that have been instrumental in getting the average African into the formal economy. Africa has another chance to lead Telco innovation in the new platform economy. Mobile revenue in Africa is set to grow from \$54.9 billion in 2017to \$68 billion in 2022.

While voice revenues are predictably declining as cheaper OTT services continue to gain popularity among cost-conscious consumers, mobile broadband and digital services revenue are set to more than double over the same period (from \$13.1 billion in 2017 to \$32.1 billion in 2022).

The CMO Council recently interviewed executives from African firms around the idea of “Mobile Ingenuity in Africa’s Dynamic Community”. The report focused on how Telcos can use real-time insights to understand the digital life of Telco subscribers with the objective of fulfilling unmet needs and how Telcos can realize revenue growth opportunities.

According to the telco executives interviewed, the application of real-time insights to improve the delivery of relevant and personalized experiences to customers is the top strategy for delivering value, improved margins and revenue growth.

Over half of the respondents believe that real-time customer and operational data are key to boosting performance through personalization. Telco leaders are actively seeking inspirations that spark innovation in value and experience.

By leveraging rich data insights, investing in digital transformation and putting the customer at the forefront of strategy, they expect to remain competitive and even increase market share in the continent.

Telkom’s Mmathebe Zvobwo said, “Africa is one continent consisting of 54 different countries. Each country has different infrastructure and economic passions. But Africa as a whole is rising. The fact that we are so different, while a challenge, makes us push ourselves when it comes to innovation. In order for us to scale innovation across the continent, you must understand the region in terms of variations and nuances. You must also have an innovation mindset that looks at opportunities to address common problems in all countries.”

Zvobwo stressed on the need to solve common African problems in order to achieve scale.

The report is now available for download from the CMO Council. 

For more information, visit www.cmocouncil.org. You can also follow the CMO Council on Twitter.

It is no secret that Telcos' lunch is under threat. Over The Top applications have dismantled traditional telco business models, with voice and sms being the main victims. The almost zero marginal cost for information has played a big part in the democratization of innovation. This coupled with the servicification…
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