Telecommunications at the crossroads. Innovation in the face of disruptive new technologies and business models

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1 Telecommunications at the crossroads Innovation in the face of disruptive new technologies and business models

2 Telecommunications and innovation Contents Telecommunications and innovation... 3 The Innovation Index of Australian Industry... 3 Ahead of the game or dropping the ball?... 3 The innovation paradox... 4 IBM Service Delivery Framework... 5 A range of business benefits... 6 Building compound services... 6 Conclusion... 7 The global telecommunications industry is at a turning point. The increasing ubiquity of internet protocol (IP) networks and the introduction of disruptive new technologies such as wireless broadband and social networking are changing the game for telecommunications providers whose business models have until very recently been based on wired, circuit-switched physical connections. Packet-based wired and wireless networks open the door to vast numbers of new services and opportunities. One obvious example is unified communications, which allows people to access the same content through a variety of devices and media, wherever they are. The telecommunications industry is only now beginning to create the tools and solutions it will need to take advantage of these new technologies. To do so will require significant innovation, not just in technology, but in business models and the way providers deal with their customers. Telecommunications companies used to take two or three years to develop new products, but to play in this space they will need to quickly create new services that can be personalised for each customer. Innovation in the telecommunications industry is particularly important because all the other industries rely on communications to keep their businesses running. Innovation and productivity gains in this sector have flow-on effects for the rest of the Australian economy. The Innovation Index of Australian Industry The Innovation Index of Australian Industry, published by IBM Australia and the Melbourne Institute, thoroughly examined the changing levels of innovation in Australia s telecommunications and other industries. It is the first study in Australia to reflect the complex nature of innovation using interindustry, multi-indicator analysis. Innovation is widely accepted as a key driver of economic growth and productivity. The Innovation Index of Australian Industry addresses the many contributors to industry innovation by analysing six data groups: research and development intensity; patent intensity; trade mark intensity; design intensity; organisational and managerial transformation; and productivity. The index captures innovation trends across telecommunications and twelve other categories of Australian industry over 15 years from It tracks the evolving innovation performance of the Australian economy to give business leaders, analysts and policy makers a rigorous and insightful measure to assess industry and national economic performance. Ahead of the game or dropping the ball? The telecommunications sector has consistently been ahead of the industry average during the 15-year period covered by the Innovation Index of Australian Industry. However, this level of innovation is concentrated in two main areas trade mark intensity and productivity while the telecommunications sector lags behind most others in areas such as research and development, patents, designs and organisational and managerial innovation. The index s authors explain that Australia has a tendency to import most of its information and communications technology requirements, rather than innovating and manufacturing locally. They attribute the high level of productivity to factors such as the intensity of domestic and global competition, technological change and structural reform of the industry. 2

3 IBM Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Glen Boreham raised the point that while the telecommunications industry may be more innovative than other sectors in Australia, it is also operating in a competitive global marketplace where the pace of innovation and investment is very fast. Speaking on ABC TV s Lateline Business, he said, Now Australia, as part of that Asia Pacific region, we re competing with countries who are just leapfrogging. They don t have the legacy infrastructure, they don t have the IT and communications infrastructures that we have and they re leaping ahead. The innovation paradox Compared to many other industries, telecommunications is slow to adopt organisational and managerial innovation. The Innovation Index of Australian Industry measured this metric by factors such as the business resources devoted to restructuring and implementing changes in work practices, the use of new management techniques and the marketing of new products or processes. This reluctance to adopt new business models was evident in IBM s Global CEO Study 2006, which canvassed the views of 765 business leaders worldwide, including 46 in the telecommunications industry. The study found that unlike their peers in most other industries, telecommunications CEOs globally placed much more emphasis on new product development than business model innovation. The CEOs surveyed allocated 26 percent of their innovation resources to business model innovation, compared with 28 percent to operational innovation and 46 percent to the development of new products, services or markets. The study suggested three possible reasons for this greater emphasis on new products: Many telecommunications companies are currently making large capital investments in next-generation IP networks and want to monetise these investments as quickly as possible by offering new products and services. Telecommunications providers are large, complex organisations with established cultures and operating principles, making broad-scale changes difficult. Many telecommunications providers have moved away from doing fundamental research and development which could lead to new business models and rely on equipment manufacturers and application providers to do it for them. This conservatism is not always a bad thing: during the dotcom bubble, many companies launched with innovative business models, only to go under very quickly because their models were unsound. However, IBM s Global CEO Study 2006 found a strong positive correlation between business model innovation and faster-than-average growth of operating margins. Telecommunications providers may be shooting themselves in the foot by ignoring an important means of adding value and increasing profitability. In addition, new entrants from the media, entertainment and internet industries are encroaching on traditional telecommunications markets. Competition is becoming increasingly fierce and telecommunications companies will have to expand their innovation horizons and embrace new ways of doing business. Telecommunications providers are certainly aware of this threat; 86 percent of those surveyed in the Global CEO Study 2006 considerably more than in other industries think a new business model from a competitor will cause radical changes to the industry. However, despite being worried about the disruptive potential of competitors business models, they still focus more on getting new products out the door than changing their own business models. We believe the telecommunications industry can address this paradox in three ways. Companies must: Create a culture that encourages and rewards innovation, starting at the top Identify and design differentiated business models that are based on their core competencies and enriched by insights from other regions and industries Integrate their technological and business infrastructure to create next-generation networks and operations that provide the flexibility they will require to close the collaboration gap. These steps will position telecommunications providers to realise the exciting new opportunities that emerge from next-generation services and business models. IBM Service Delivery Framework The move to a predominantly IP environment and the increasing use of information technologies have the potential to significantly reduce the time to market for telecommunications services. We believe that to thrive in the 21st Century, telecommunications service providers will need to launch next-generation services faster than their competitors, with lower fixed costs and less risk. IBM s Service Delivery Framework is an open standards-based, integrated environment that can help telecommunications providers improve efficiency and re-engineer business processes. The Service Delivery Framework is a way for a telecommunications company to break down traditional organisational boundaries and view itself as a series of common capabilities or foundation services that include people and technological resources across different departments and locations. Using a service-oriented architecture, these foundation services can be combined and packaged into composite services that suit the needs of particular customer groups. This integration also allows telecommunications providers and content providers to deliver the same information to a variety of different devices such as computers, mobile phones and home entertainment systems over wired and wireless networks. Most importantly, the Service Delivery Framework greatly reduces the level of human intervention required to provision services for customers. This greatly reduces operating and management costs and means new services can be assembled and delivered to customers in weeks rather than months or years. 4 5

4 A range of business benefits The Service Delivery Framework provides an integrated execution environment that allows telecommunications providers to: Generate new revenue streams by simplifying and accelerating the introduction and modification of content, applications and services Attract new customers with personalised product sets Lower the cost of deploying and operating services and retiring those that don t perform well Improve portfolio flexibility and time to market for new services Deliver services that drive revenue, increase stickiness and encourage customer saturation React spontaneously to changing market conditions Capture event-driven market opportunities such as voting applications for reality TV shows or sporting events Improve the customer experience Increase customer loyalty by bundling services, making it less desirable to switch providers Offer real-time customer service and have a single view of the customer across all systems Allows customers to self-provision services online Analyse customer use patterns and offer services and packages that fit their needs and desires. Building compound services Bharti Airtel, a leading telecommunications provider in India, has invested more than US$100 million to implement IBM s Service Delivery Framework. Re-engineering its business has allowed the company to deliver a suite of unique and innovative products, services and applications to more than 25 million customers using mobile, landline and broadband connections. A very successful example of a composite service is the Family Locator from Sprint Nextel in the United States. Parents who are concerned about their child s safety and whereabouts can send a request, which uses a global positioning system (GPS) device in the child s phone to report his or her location and display it on an interactive map on the parent s mobile phone or computer. The service also notifies children by text message each time their parents check up on them. Other compound services could include: Giving emergency services organisations the ability to share information across multiple databases in real time to respond better to disasters, analyse trends and improve emergency response procedures Collaboration tools that give mobile blue-collar workers the ability to access data in a context and format that makes sense for their workplace environment Online games that allow friends to play together and talk to each other at the same time Mobile access to equipment and supplies catalogues that enable service workers to find the appropriate product at the best price Remote monitoring of individuals medical conditions, such as blood sugar levels for diabetics Communities of interest with real-time collaboration or information based around specific industries or community activities Sharing medical information among practitioners and specialist over long distances for the correct diagnosis of illness or injury. Conclusion IBM believes the key to success for telecommunications companies in Australia will be creating the best user experience and products by automating processes and removing the human element from mundane tasks such as provisioning services. This will allow them to quickly and nimbly deliver new, personalised services that meet customer needs. IBM also thinks there is an untapped potential for local innovation and research. Australian telecommunications companies are capable of considerably more business model innovation, but it will be a significant challenge for larger companies such as Telstra and Optus to re-engineer their processes. Telecommunications companies are very worried about the potential for competitors with low set-up costs to erode their margins using services such as voice over IP. However, IBM believes telecommunications networks are like roads vital infrastructure, but what travels over it is much more important. Delivering innovative applications and content over that infrastructure is the real future for a profitable telecommunications business. For further information please contact: David W. Robertson Nick Gurney Partner, ANZ Communications Sector Lead AP Communications Sector IBM Global Business Services Office: Office: ibm.com/industries/telecom/ 6 7

5 IBM Australia Limited Level Pacific Highway St Leonards, NSW 2065 Printed in Australia 06/07 IBM, the IBM logo and the What Makes You Special? logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. Other company, product and services names may be trademarks or services marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products and services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. Grafxlab GL_8837

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