They say it's an ill-wind that blows nobody good, and whilst the global recession is knocking the stuffing out of some telecoms sectors (handset manufacturers and infrastructure providers come to mind here straight away) others, particularly the big, incumbent carriers with their massive networks, are withstanding the storm really rather well, as a new study by Ernst & Young shows. Martyn Warwick reports.
The thesis is straightforward: Power rests with scale players and established telcos have the experience, assets and resilience to withstand the buffeting that is either sinking or disabling others.
Furthermore, having gone through their own long recession back in the early part of the decade, incumbent telcos are now much leaner and meaner than they used to be. These days they can react to changing conditions so much faster than they could back in the 1990s while investors, burned by exposure to the likes of Nortel and others, now see what might be called the "traditional" telecoms sector as a safe haven in difficult times.
Add to the mix the general perception of regulatory and legislative uncertainty, the falling stock values of what were only a few years ago sexy upstart companies that rose rapidly to success on their novelty value and expectations that they would run rings around the old boys and leave them puffing in the dust but are themselves now rapidly becoming also-rans, and it is evident that established operators are in pole position to unlock the additional value of the emerging e-society.
And the impact of electronic communications in all its forms is being felt inceasingly across so many other industries that the telecoms landscape is changing forever as it assumes ever-greater significance both inside and outside the sector. Thus new competencies are required in an infrastructure-centric age.
This means scale players have a unique opportunity to lead rather than simply adapt to change whilst simultaneously improving legacy operations.
The challenge is there, the gauntlet is down, its time for the big boys, stong in both fixed and mobile broadband, to come forward and pick it up.
The Ernst & Young study also shows that customer issues are today's leading strategic challenges. In the past operators have struggled to quickly to develop and then monetise new services, but their greatest asset, the network and infrastructure can be pressed to new uses.
Telcos can build their share of wallet by monetising new consumer and enterprise demands in the e-society while determined and increased interaction between government and operators can also help unlock additional value.
However, whilst CEO's put the customer and new services at the heart of their agenda operators remain wary about introducing new services that may not be success and could cost them money. This is a circle that must be squared if more value is to be extracted from the customer wallet.
The answer is to unlock the power of the pipe and this is what this new and major study by Ernst & Young is all about.
The report is based on input from senior executives from 18 major international companies from across Europe and North America. They include not only the major operators in these regions but also technology providers, manufacturers, private equity investors and industry analysts. The result is a thought-provoking, timely and relevant study in which TelecomTV plays its own small part - as you'll see if you take a look by clicking here
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