Disrupt or Die. The Digital Clock is Ticking.

I’m just going to come out and say it: Digital is disruptive. And you aren’t. Nowhere near enough.
 
We are coming towards the end of a full decade in which the telecommunications community has been talking, experimenting, and failing with digital initiatives.  We’re supposed to be the enablers of the Digital economy, yet so far we haven’t seen a single butterfly emerge from the cocoon of “Digital Transformation” in our industry who is coming close to replicating the successes of digital service providers in other verticals, let alone the glorious technicolor prowess of the web-scale players we all aspire to.

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Don’t get me wrong: there are some genuine mitigating factors in our apparent failure to move the needle on digitalizing the way telcos do business. The regulators make it hard; we all operate at a scale that makes it nearly impossible to achieve WhatsApp’s global reach; and we exist in a maze of controlling suppliers who don’t want anyone to move their cheese.

But if we are honest with ourselves – deep down, brutally, first-thing-in-the-morning-when-we-first-wake-up honest – the biggest blocker to us doing innovative things that shake up our way of doing business in exciting ways is us: Communications Service Providers and the people who work for them. Disruption simply isn’t in our DNA.

If you look at how butterflies come into existence in nature, there is nothing incremental about their transition from a slow-moving wriggling brown caterpillar. From the moment they enter their transformational pupae, almost every cell in their bodies is systematically dismantled and reassembled to construct an entirely different beast – an iridescent gossamer-winged miracle of nature, equipped to travel freely on the breeze in a manner alien to its earth-bound former incarnation.
 
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In the telecommunications industry, we don’t have the luxury of such a flexible genome. The DNA of our business-as-usual model is focused on keeping the system stable. On defending our revenue base. On minimizing churn. On maximizing margins. Anything that challenges this DNA is rarely seen as a transformative opportunity. In our industry, even the most well-meaning executives have a natural tendency to treat business model disruption as a virus that threatens the body corporate and must be marginalized or wiped out to ensure continuing survival.
 
But digital isn’t like that. Just as you can’t pretend to be a butterfly while still acting like a caterpillar, you can’t succeed as a Digital service provider by thinking and operating in the same old way that has worked for the past 2 decades or more. Change on the scale we need to see to survive and thrive in the Digital economy requires disruption. Active disruption. Wide-ranging disruption. Disruption that touches every aspect of how we think of ourselves as a business. Disruption all the way down.
 
The economic benefits of getting this right are huge. You have a transformative opportunity to redefine the economics of your business – of the whole industry even. I mean, you’d be crazy not to want to:
 
 Slash your operating cost by optimizing the channel mix to prioritize lower-cost Digital channels over human-mediated channels such as call centers and retail stores

• Change your relationship with customers from a low-interaction utility model focused on managing churn driven by frustration & dissatisfaction, to a trusted engagement model focused on continuous opportunities for in-life monetization

• Put control of the business back in the hands of marketing to generate new revenues and offer incremental buying opportunities with the right mix of Product, Price, Place, and Promotion (and Partners)

• Optimize your resources into a lean operating model based on tens, rather than thousands of employees

• Create a culture of creative experimentation and continuous agile innovation which builds iteratively on success to allow you to scale fast, or identify issues early and fail cheaply

You could win awards for this level of innovation if you could only look at the challenge in the right way.

In our upcoming series of blog posts, members of the Moflix team will be examining what it takes to create a modern Digital Service Provider in the Telecommunications industry that is fit for the commercial reality of the 21st Century. We’ll be looking at every aspect of how to become makes a successful Digital operator and the disruptive thinking that is needed to make this a reality:

• Disruption of Markets
• Disruption of Customer Engagement & Experience
• Disruption of Operating Models
• Disruption of Culture
• Disruption of Success Metrics
• Disruption of Working Practices
• Disruption of Solution Architectures
• Disruption of Technology Assumptions 
• Disruption of Procurement Approaches
 
We’ll be sharing with you our real-world experience of creating Digital butterflies in the telecommunications industry. And we’ll be challenging you to think about whether you’re doing enough to disrupt your own organisation to make this come to life in your business.
 
Be honest though. If you don’t disrupt yourself, then someone will eventually do it to you. And we’ve all seen what happens to caterpillars who don’t make it as butterflies.

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