Telefonica represents a prime model of the opportunities and challenges telecom operators will experience as they evolve into digital service providers. The digital era will enable telecom operators to become more agile and profitable as they transition away from more costly legacy network technologies and business models. The digital era will place greater expectations on telecom operators, however, as customers will turn to digital service providers to support a broader range of services and use cases.
Telefonica will benefit from recognizing that it is just a single entity competing in a vast digital ecosystem composed of a multitude of players, including other telecom operators, webscales and OTT video providers. Collaborating with the broader technology industry will enable Telefonica to reduce the cost of developing in-house solutions while enabling the company to more effectively support customers’ digital ambitions.
The 2019 Telefonica Industry Analyst Day showcased Telefonica’s (NYSE: TEF) evolution from a traditional telecom operator to a digital service provider (DSP). Telefonica is positioning as a leading global DSP through its progress in virtualizing and cloudifying its network and IT systems as well as the company’s capabilities in emerging technologies, including AI, machine learning (ML), big data and edge computing. Telefonica’s digital transformation initiatives are yielding significant cost savings as the company modernizes its network infrastructure and customer service platforms while creating new services to enhance user experience and support advanced use cases. Telefonica will face challenges in the digital era, however, including growing competition from webscales, regulatory hurdles, and unproven demand for use cases in areas including 5G and edge computing.