Update on Asia telecoms’ digital transformation investment

Research firm Analysys Mason says telecom operators in Asia are not doing enough to become digital service providers (DSPs).
Telecom digital transformation in Asia

Main telecom operators in Asia include China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom, Axiata, Indosat, Maxis, Singtel, SoftBank, NTT Docomo, KDDI, Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, BSNL, Telenor, Reliance Jio, among others.

Atul Arora of Analysys Mason said each operator has unique requirements and must take a personalised route to digital transformation. One of the core aspects of this transformation is a change in the way that operators engage with their customers across various customer touchpoints.

Operators’ strategies

# well-defined digital experience objectives and execution plans
# Understanding of the competitive landscape
# Ability to measure progress in digital initiatives

Operators that provide greater engagement functionality through their digital channels score highly in Analysys Mason’s DXi assessment.

Operators digital-first strategy is not restricted to a specific demographic but is widespread, as reflected by the increase in smartphone handset penetration worldwide. The report said most operators lack clarity on the functional capabilities and characteristics that they must enable on their digital channels.

Analysys Mason said its DXi research – that covered 21 operators in 7 countries — highlights that few operators are adopting a digital-first approach as part of the digital transformation.

Mobile operators are making progress in enabling greater engagement capabilities on digital channels.

The smartphone apps of nearly all mobile operators in the APAC region offer the ability to view usage information; the ability to purchase basic top-ups or bundles; and the delivery of ecommerce offers from third-party businesses.

The above features demonstrate that operators are enabling digital engagement. As part of the digital-first strategy, operators should be able to move customers to digital channels and focus on improving in-app engagement functionality.

A digital-first approach includes enabling functionality such as message-based support within the smartphone app used by Digi.

The ability to purchase new services implemented by Spark and XL Axiata is also noted by the research report.

Optus has enabled a capability to offer personalised deals based on customers’ usage. The report said very few operators have enabled such capabilities.

The report suggests that mobile operators also need to improve the performance of their apps in order to achieve digital-first status. End-user reviews on smartphone app stores are a reflection of app performance. DTAC averaged 4 or more out of 5 on both Apple’s and Google’s app stores.

Most operators scored highly in our DXi assessment for their websites because these were the primary self-service channels. A few operators used customer service features, such as live chat agents, despite their ability to reduce customer effort and improve customer experience.

Analysys Mason suggests that the use of virtual assistants and chatbots is another capability that can differentiate an operators’ digital experience.

Nearly two thirds of operators in the APAC region are experimenting with virtual assistants, with most focusing on customer service. Telkomsel in Indonesia was the only operator that addressed all three capabilities for customer service, sales and marketing with their virtual assistant Veronika.