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Speed of disruption challenging telecommunications companies: KPMG International

Speed of disruption challenging telecom companies

Telecom companies face a challenge dealing with technological disruption and are aware of the threat of being left behind.



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Telecommunications companies are having a challenging time dealing with technological disruption and are all too aware of the threat of being left behind. According to the telecommunications executives responding to a new KPMG International survey a large majority (79 percent) are concerned that their organizations are seen as just a ‘fat pipe of bits’ side-lining them as commodity players. And, a similar proportion (70 percent) fear their businesses are not equipped for the new, disruptive world.

According to the KPMG International survey, just 11 percent of respondents feel strongly that their organization has a clear strategy and mission for disruptive technology and only 23 percent feel their company is very prepared in terms of a strategic vision for disruptive technology. In addition, four-fifths are worried that they don’t have the capability to take advantage of opportunities in key areas like Over-The-Top (OTT).

Of those respondents reporting a negative impact from disruption, more than half (54 percent) believe that their company only invests in proven technologies leaving them ‘behind the curve’. A further 36 percent claim they ‘saw the technology trend too late,’ and 69 percent feel disruptive technologies are bringing in new competitors from outside the industry.

According to Peter Mercieca, Global Chair, Media and Telecommunications, KPMG International:

“Telecom companies may be accustomed to change – but the accelerated speed of disruption is something they haven’t experienced before. However, the majority of the 580 telecommunications executives we surveyed are excited about the potential of disruptive technologies to enhance their business models and operations, with 58 percent of those who have adopted one or more reporting a positive impact.”

The survey found that telecom companies are using disruptive technologies to improve how they serve customers and support operational efficiency. More than 70 percent say data and analytics (D&A), mobile, cloud, social media, the internet of things (IoT), marketing platforms, digital payments, and artificial intelligence (AI) are being used and changing how they serve their customers. Overall they are using D&A (80 percent) to create real time change in the way they service customers (i.e. creating new products, services, delivery models, marketing approaches etc.). Mobile was next (78 percent), then cloud and social media (77 percent equally).

However it’s not D&A, but IoT (54 percent) and wearables (53 percent) that are the top two technologies for supporting customers after their purchase thus enabling their companies to keep in touch with their customers every move – to predict and react to their needs.

“Despite having billing information on millions of customers, many telecommunications companies are not using it to the fullest advantage to offer a heightened experience,” comments Alex Holt, Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications (TMT) KPMG in the UK. “Indeed, D&A plays a vital part in understanding customer behavior, giving insights on how to better serve customers, which in turn should increase customer loyalty and reduce churn.”

On the operational side, improving productivity is a high priority for telecom leaders when investing in disruptive technology. IoT (54 percent), wearables (52 percent) and digital payments/currency (50 percent) are seen as having the greatest impact along with D&A considered the most effective tool for raising quality. Another disruptive technology with the potential to make telecommunications companies more productive, and drive greater quality, is virtual/augmented reality – with 44 percent of respondents citing this innovation.

With numerous disruptive technologies changing the telecom environment, having the right talent in the organization is critical. The traditional organizational model in telecom consists of large teams of customer-facing staff and network engineers. According to the survey, 43 percent of telecom leaders claim their organization has the staffing and skills in place to contend with the effects of disruptive technologies. In addition, 46 percent say their company plans to hire new talent specifically to help implement these technologies.

Bob Hayward, Principal, Management Consulting, KPMG in Singapore, comments:

“This is absolutely not business as usual, and there’s a huge cultural challenge for companies accustomed to running large networks and customer service operations with significant staff numbers. Many are burdened with these traditional ways of thinking and have yet to undergo the kind of cultural shift necessary to embrace new disruptive technologies. To compete effectively and be agile and flexible, the telecommunications company of the future needs to be staffed with digital architects, data scientists and developers. Many companies have considerable work to do to reach this position.”

KPMG International’s TMT practice has developed a framework that informs executives within telecom companies on the various types of disruptive technologies and the key benefits they can bring to operations, business models and customer/marketing efforts. Visit Disruptive technologies barometer: Telecommunications sector for the full report with the framework included.

About KPMG International’s “Powering a connected world. Disruptive Technologies Barometer: Telecommunications sector”

This report is based on a commissioned global survey conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of KPMG International’s Global Technology, Media & Telecommunications practice.

580 senior executives within telecommunications companies in 16 countries were surveyed. The respondents represent wireline or wireless carriers, satellite providers, VoIP services providers, and other similar organizations.

The 16 countries include: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Portugal, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, the UK and the US.

This survey is part of a wider body of research into the technology, media and telecommunications industries, involving 1740 senior executives (580 from each sector). The technology report was released in November 2016 and the media report will be available mid-December 2016.

Please visit Disruptive technologies barometer: Telecommunications sector to access the full reports.

About KPMG International

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 155 countries and have 174,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

For more information, please contact:

Carolyn Forest

KPMG International

+1 416 777 3857

© 2020 KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm. All rights reserved.

Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the personal opinions of the interviewees and authors based on their personal experience working as Auditors in the industry and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm.

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