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Telecom companies need soft skills and hard tools for successful digital transformation

Survey insights

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation as a priority at telecom companies around the world. As these companies look to virtualize and automate their networks, many areas of the business—from network operations to customer experience —are benefiting from a variety of initiatives. And executives will continue to lead the digital transformation charge through 2021 to further optimize their services.

Nokia surveyed 100 IT leaders at telecom companies across the globe to uncover their top priorities, where they’ve already derived success, and the hurdles they’ll need to overcome to achieve their goals.

Data collected from 6 Nov- 8 Dec, 2020      Respondents: 100 telecom IT Leaders

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Digital transformation is accelerating in telecom due to the pandemic — and won’t slow in 2021

Almost two-thirds (60%) of IT leaders in the global telecom industry say the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of their digital transformation efforts—and only 10% say they’ve slowed down.

To what extent has the pace of your organisation's digital transformation changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic?


The main reasons these organizations are pursuing digital transformation are to improve customer experience (58%), increase operational efficiency (45%), and increase profitability (34%).

What are the top business benefits you hope to derive by pursuing digital transformation? ( multi-select)


To achieve these goals, most telecom companies have already begun digital transformation initiatives like automating operational processes (65%) and upgrading legacy IT systems (52%). Over the next 12 months, cybersecurity will shift to be a top three priority, and leaders will increase their investment in OSS and BSS modernization.

What are the top 3 digital transformation projects your company has already invested in?


What are the top 3 digital transformation projects your company will invest in through 2021?


To accelerate digital transformation, telecom organizations need to invest in culture and technology



While at some organisations,
multiple leaders spearhead
digital transformation efforts,
the CIO is most likely to take
charge at 84% of telecom

Who is responsible  for driving digital transformation initiatives at your organisation?


The job role of the project lead can determine which initiatives see more success.             

Which digital transformation initiative have telecom organizations already derived success from depending on which leader is heading the project?


At these companies, the top two elements these executives need to drive digital transformation forward are an enhanced cultural focus on transformation (49%) and technology that enables and optimizes their efforts (48%).

What are the two most critical factors you need in place to drive digital transformation?


However, there are some significant barriers preventing leaders from implementing these critical, digital transformation-enabling factors. Namely, telecom companies report insufficient budgets (53%), a lack of digital talent (46%), and organizational resistance to change (43%).

What are the top challenges your organisation  faces as you pursue digital transformation?


Depending on which leader is heading digital transformation, telecom companies are facing different top barriers.


Telecom companies are prioritizing network virtualization and automation

Many telecom companies are pursuing automation to streamline their operations. The top business areas that have seen the most ROI from automation are network operations (52%), network optimization (50%), and new product/service deployment (46%).

Which of the following business areas have derived the greatest ROI from automation?


While 94% of telecom companies also plan to virtualize their network, the vast majority are either just beginning (46%) or are about halfway through (47%) the process.

How would you best describe your organization’s progress towards virtualizing your network?


If you are evolving your network toward virtualization, to what extent have you seen network complexity increase?


Respondent breakdown