Interview With Ekow, Global Head, Consulting, Ericsson

Interview-With-Ekow,-Global Head,-Consulting,-Ericsson “We want to be leaders in telco digitization be it platform, integration and managed services,”: Ekow, Global Head, Consulting, Ericsson

Ekow is looking at telco digitization be it customer experience management, online store experience, bouquet of services, home solutions and others in a big way. He believes telcos are late in comparison to music and travel industry digitization but they need to catch up as smartphone and Internet penetration are increasing thanks to 3G and 4G deployment by operators.

Ekow is the global head of consulting at Ericsson with over 25 years’ experience in ICE sector. He was previously vice president, Sales in Consulting and Systems Integration for Ericsson’s Etisalat Global Customer Unit based in the United Arab Emirates where he led the turnaround of the largest IT transformation program. Prior to joining Ericsson he held leadership roles in Consulting and Sales at IBM, e-Business consultancy at PwC Consulting and Coopers & Lybrand.

What are the Top 5 challenges with respect to telco digitization?
The Top 5 challenges with respect to telco digitization are: Culture, usage model, technologies, business processes and alliances & partners. Culture – Many of the investment operate in a particular way in the physical world but in the digital world it is different so culture mindset needs to be dealt in a big way. Usage Model – The transformation from physical to a digital model is not easy so it has to be worked differently. Technologies – The technologies involved are different as telcos needs cloud and analytics skillset which traditional telco does not possess. Business Processes – The processes are not the same and it needs to be aligned with digitization technologies. Alliances and Partners – One has to build the right eco-system partners to collaborate and integrate with 3rd party and OTT providers.

Does Ericsson possess complete end to end capability with respect to telco digitization?
For telco digitization one requires IoT (Internet of Things), cloud, analytics, product, solutions, system integration and services. Analytics help in improving customer experience and then making recommendations using social media to exploit the channels for better interaction and better cost management.

Ericsson does not have a complete portfolio of products and solutions with respect to telco digitization and so it needs to tie-up with partners to form alliances and Ericsson need to focus on charging, billing and provisioning solutions and also on system integration with respect to telco digitization. All these require new skillsets which traditional telco does not possess but Ericsson is focusing on the digitization story in a big way.

We want to be the leaders in telco digitization be it platform, integration and managed services. We want to plan transformation, execute transformation and manage ongoing maintenance.

What is the key challenge with respect to telco digitization?
The key challenge with respect to telco digitization is the business model as IoT (Internet of Things) and M2M (Machine to Machine) are new areas for telcos. The revenue share model or risk and reward model is also not very easy to construct as telcos are looking to derisk their investment while transitioning towards digital.

Name the telcos globally which are moving towards digital transformation?
No of operators are undergoing digital transformation very much like Amazon and they are looking at different applications. The Telefonica Group has set up Telefonica Digital with a view to shift towards digital services. AT&T has launched AT&T Digital Life which focuses on home solutions like home surveillance solutions and in home experiences. Verizon has focused on digital stores and focus is on how to make digital experiences better than physical instore experiences. Entel Chile is doing a large engagement to transform its entire user experience on mobile, online and instore to a real digital experience. A legacy telco in Europe has gone for a completely new platform developed by Ericsson for digital transformation.

What Indian telcos need to do with respect to digitization?
In 2020, 3G will cover 95 percent of Indian geography. Lot of things depend on connectivity and smartphone and Indian operators should start with digital experiences. First, Indian telcos need to improve their interaction with customers. The operators can start with the youth segment and provide them digital experience with respect to service enrollment, bill payment, service top up and also customer care.

How do you compare greenfield telco digital transformation and brownfield telco digital transformation?
Greenfield telco digital transformation is quicker than brownfield telco digital transformation. In brownfield telco digital transformation one needs to do lots of cultural change and one also one need to prepare for a large and expensive transformation program.

How big is the digital transformation market globally?
Presently, Indian e-commerce market is at $16 billion and it is expected to reach more than $100 billion by 2020. According to Gartner, digital transformation globally is around $400 billion which includes product and services. According to Gartner, operators who move towards digital will see an increase of 8-15 percent in their topline.

How are you making your employee ready to meet telco transformation?
We are bringing new people and shedding large chunk of employee base to meet the challenges of telcos. Ericsson presence in India is two-fold. First to provide solution and second is to provide managed services to operators in Latin America and Europe from India. We have the resource base to use the manpower in India rather than sending them abroad. The areas chosen for digital transformation that Ericsson is focusing are: utilities, public safety, transportation, government, media delivery, content delivery and managing India operations.

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