5 Key Takeaways from the Canadian Telecom Summit 2016

Written by Mary Montserrat-Howlett on Jun 15, 2016

On June 6th, 7th and 8th, over 500 delegates including service providers, vendors, regulators and press convened in Toronto to discuss and debate the key issues impacting the Canadian telecoms sector.

The three days of Canadian Telecom Summit 2016 were packed with 15 sessions, 7 panel discussions, 4 lunch presentations, and plenty of networking in between. All participants were on board with this year’s theme—Transforming our digital world: The journey to universal connectivity—which knitted together a diverse set of thoughtful material, presented from different perspectives.

There was lots to take away from the event, with these being our top picks:

OTT services continue to change the landscape, will they disrupt?

Ubiquity of connections is causing service providers to move up the value chain. Instead of wire and spectrum companies they now need to take on the role as “Trusted Advisor” to consumers, directing them to the best apps and content for communications and entertainment. They must also provide customers with  control over how much bandwidth they want to use, so that the customer is provided with the experiences they value.

Over the top (OTT) providers continue to come up with new ways of thinking. The challenge for the traditional Telco or ISP is to drive the evolution of OTT-type services right into the network. Is there a better way to create services using new technologies that “software-a-tize” the network? Unlike traditional carriers who are distributed and have limited investment capabilities to scale, companies like Google, Facebook, Skype, Apple and Netflix are centralized and have the upper hand when it comes to scaling way up. There’s a lot of pressure to figure it out because 75% of North American consumers would consider switching to an OTT service if the service included a connectivity package*.

Cloud truly is the transformative technology

It’s not news that cloud computing is enabling service providers to launch new services. It’s also enabling providers to try more services, scale them up if they work and fail fast if they don’t. This is critical because customers’ needs are changing quickly and service providers won’t always be able to predict them, so they’ll need to roll out inexpensively: fail fast = fail cheap.

Software defined networks (SDN) should make deploying services easier and more cost effective, but this has yet to be proven. The industry isn’t sure what will be required by the network in the next 5 years, and no two customers want to buy their services in the same way.  Telcos and ISPs are going to have to be flexible enough to satisfy all kinds of customers without reengineering their services over and over again.

Customers desire innovative, personalized services… instantly!

Customer experience is considered the #1 brand differentiator and service providers are continuing to push the limits and test new service models to meet the needs of the digital customer and gain a competitive advantage. With the explosion of digital and the accelerated pace of innovation, customers are more empowered than ever and they are placing ever-greater demands on brands to deliver on expectations, whether that’s being able to try a new product or service before buying or being able to solve issues through smart, proactive and personalized self-service.

The focus on customer experience is not something to pay lip service to but to be embraced as a strategic C-Level initiative that empowers customers while deepening brand loyalty.

Customers desire innovative, personalized services… instantly!

Customer experience is considered the #1 brand differentiator and service providers are continuing to push the limits and test new service models to meet the needs of the digital customer and gain a competitive advantage. With the explosion of digital and the accelerated pace of innovation, customers are more empowered than ever and they are placing ever-greater demands on brands to deliver on expectations, whether that’s being able to try a new product or service before buying or being able to solve issues through smart, proactive and personalized self-service.

The focus on customer experience is not something to pay lip service to but to be embraced as a strategic C-Level initiative that empowers customers while deepening brand loyalty.

IoT spawns data like crazy, then what?

There is no surprise IoT was a significant topic at the summit as providers are looking to increase their top line revenue with new IoT services. This is a big shift for some companies because they’re used to monetizing discrete elements and now they have to find a way to monetize new services.

The industry is in the midst of an explosion of connected devices presenting a huge opportunity. Data generators like drones, Fitbits, GoPros weren’t even around 5 years ago. Data is growing at 50% per year. Providers can store a lot of data at a low price but they still need to get to a point where they can interpret data for gain, such as improving lives for consumers and enabling efficiency for businesses. Two key challenges will be to find ways to cleanse and standardize the data, and effectively roll out virtual software infrastructure to support IoT.

Digital transformation won’t be realized unless walls separating business and technology are torn down

Digital Transformation was a theme in many sessions. According to Amdocs research, 82% of executives identified digital transformation as a critical and immediate objective yet these projects are almost always executed as standalone initiatives. Bottom line: technology can’t be an add-on or siloed strategy, and it certainly can’t just be an IT strategy. It must be part of ongoing, integrated company-wide initiatives overseen, ideally, by a Chief Digital Officer.

*Customer Experience Spotlight 2016; Global survey conducted by 451 Research