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Top 3 Predictions for Telecom in 2022

Telecom industry faces new challenges in the post-pandemic era

2022 will be a transition year for the telecom industry

After emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed, the telecom industry is entering a new phase and faces a new set of challenges. These challenges include navigating a supply chain left in shambles due to the impact of the pandemic and, representing a separate concern, the inexorable rise and encroachment of hyperscalers in the telecom domain, which threatens to completely disrupt the status quo in the industry.​

Incumbent communication service providers (CSPs) and their vendors are navigating these issues, but there is an increased urgency to digitally transform and align with structural changes occurring in the industry, such as the pressure to work with hyperscalers on network transformation and business model co-creation in the cloud.​

2022 is poised to be a unique transition year for the telecom industry. While unprecedented government stimulus that originated in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to be pumped into the global economy, lifting all players in some way across the market landscape, CSPs and their vendors must transition to the fundamentally new network architecture, which is software-based, fully virtualized and cloud-centric. CSPs must also determine where they will play in the new value chains that are being created in the digital economy, most notably in hyperscalers’ marketplaces, and in conjunction with new players that are entering the scene in domains such as private networks and satellites.​

Meanwhile, supply chain challenges are expected to persist through 2022, with continuing semiconductor and component shortages as well as ongoing skilled labor deficiencies and shipping delays, all of which threaten to delay market development and hinder vendors’ ability to recognize revenue and pursue new growth opportunities. Inflation (potentially stagflation) and rising interest rates also pose risks, portending margin pressure and debt refinancing challenges.​

Taken together, these circumstances indicate 2022 will be an unusual year for the telecom industry. While government-induced stimulus will provide various benefits to players across the industry, giving off a sense that the industry is functioning normally and is healthy, an acceleration in competitive and technological changes poses a risk to the long-term performance of incumbents. Amid the uncertainty 2022 will bring, one thing is certain: Major changes are coming to the telecom industry in the post-pandemic world, and fast.

2022 telecom predictions

  • Supply-demand imbalance delays pace of 5G market development
  • Hyperscalers scale out edge cloud
  • Government becomes leader in 5G spend among nontelecom verticals

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Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Big Blue and big government: Enhancing security and co-innovation operations improves IBM’s chances in the U.S. public sector

IBM is strengthening public sector resources in the U.S. to capture modernization opportunities

While the public sector accounts for less than 10% of IBM’s revenue, in TBR’s estimates, IBM is expanding resources in the U.S. to ramp up activities. IBM developed its delivery capabilities for the U.S. federal sector by establishing the IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity in June. The center, part of IBM’s offices in downtown Washington, D.C., will have a secure laboratory space for government clients to jointly develop solutions around advanced security threats leveraging IBM technologies and services. The center will provide access to IBM experts and external advisers, such as former government officials, as well as host workshops around topics such as zero-trust frameworks and cloud security. Clients will also have access to the IBM Research labs to collaborate on encryption solutions. ​

In October IBM opened a new IBM Garage location in Huntsville, Ala., a location designed specifically to support the federal government’s digital transformation and modernization. IBM is enhancing its value proposition by offering government-grade cloud environments, cleared local resources trained on IBM Garage principles and methodology, and thought leaders that will provide services in a hybrid model. In a similar move, Accenture Federal Services opened an innovation space at the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Invention to Innovation Center in June. Such activities indicate a potential war for talent, especially for industry and technology experts skilled at working with public sector clients.​

A partnership with Raytheon, formed in October, expands IBM’s reach in the aerospace, defense and intelligence, and federal government sectors. IBM and Raytheon will jointly develop AI, cryptographic and quantum solutions. Raytheon is one of several federal aerospace and defense (A&D) contractors teaming with IBM Services to launch MARQTS (Marketplace for Advanced, Rapid, Quantifiably-assured, Trusted Semiconductors), a hybrid cloud-based and blockchain-enabled forum to support the secure development of microelectronics for the commercial industry and the DOD. IBM joins A&D and commercial IT companies Boeing, Cadence, Colvin Run Networks, Intrinsix, Lockheed Martin, Marvell Government Solutions, Nimbis Services Inc., Northrop Grumman and PDF Solutions. MARQTS will be available to the U.S. defense sector by 2023. IBM will use a proprietary cloud platform developed to enable secure collaboration for the group, while the platform will reside on an IBM blockchain to enhance security. IBM expects to roll out MARQTS across the DOD by 2023.

According to TBR’s 2Q21 Public Sector IT Services Benchmark, “The appetite for digital modernization by agencies of the U.S. federal government remains strong, as evidenced not only by record revenue and backlog levels reported by many federal technology contractors in 2Q21 but also by the robust level and velocity of proposal submissions tendered by federal IT vendors. Commercial technology adoption is red hot in federal IT, particularly around cloud computing, where TBR observed a significant uptick in efforts by multiple contractors during 2Q21 to shore up collaborations with the leading commercial cloud leaders.”

Senior Analyst John Caucis, who leads TBR’s Public Sector IT Services research, notes, “The federal civilian sector has recovered vigorously from the COVID-19 trough a year ago, thanks to civilian agencies’ ongoing drive to digitize their IT infrastructures. Cyber budgets are also growing, reflecting federal agencies’ strong will to secure their data and IT systems from the ever-growing barrage of cyber threats. AI is increasingly permeating security, intelligence gathering and analysis, the burgeoning space sector, and citizen services, cementing AI as a critical technology to drive mission success and driving AI leaders like Booz Allen Hamilton to accelerate the time to market of new AI technologies.”

The content above draws heavily from TBR’s most recent quarterly analysis of IBM’s services business. Contact the author at [email protected] for additional insight and information. 

Telecom infrastructure services: 2Q21 insights from TBR’s Telecom team

5G and geopolitics take center stage in the development of the TIS market

Unprecedented government support will boost the ICT sector over at least the next five years, with the telecom industry poised to be one of the key beneficiaries of the stimulus. Western-aligned governments will also increasingly mandate and provide support for CSPs to swap out gear from Huawei and ZTE, and these projects could take several years to complete.

Join Telecom Senior Analyst Michael Soper for a webinar examining TBR’s Telecom Infrastructure Services (TIS) Global Market Forecast for 2020-2025, including the expected impact of these events on the market.

Don’t miss:

  • Key growth drivers and growth detractors in the TIS market from 2021-2025
  • How government spend and geopolitics will influence the TIS market
  • Which vendors are well-positioned to capitalize on trends in the TIS market

Register today to reserve your space

TBR webinars are held typically on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ET and include a 15-minute Q&A session following the main presentation. Previous webinars can be viewed anytime on TBR’s Webinar Portal.

For additional information or to arrange a briefing with our analysts, please contact TBR at [email protected].

WEBINAR FAQS

Government investments worldwide will help accelerate 5G deployments as societies adapt to new normal

Key insights

An increasing number of governments worldwide are becoming directly and/or indirectly involved in ensuring new technologies, such as 5G, are widely deployed in their respective countries.

TBR’s research indicates governments worldwide will invest more than $2 trillion in the ICT sector over the next five years, starting in earnest in 2021. Of that $2 trillion, several hundred billion dollars will flow directly into the 5G market.

The pandemic has accelerated enterprise interest in adopting new technologies such as 5G as a part of their digital transformations, aligning with social distancing mandates and supporting remote work environments.

The 5G Telecom Market Landscape includes key findings, market size, customer adoption, operator positioning and strategies, geographic adoption, vendor positioning and strategies, and acquisition and alliance strategies and opportunities.

COVID-19 pandemic forces telecom industry to go all in on digital transformation

CSPs face brave new world; government stimulate market

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to persist through at least 2021 as vaccines and other virus mitigation efforts take time to make their way through societies globally. In the meantime, the global economy remains in a state of suspended animation following unprecedented injections of fiscal and monetary stimulus by governments across numerous countries, which total over $20 trillion (or 23% of global GDP in 2019). The amount of stimulus is expected to continue growing steadily through 2021 and potentially beyond as governments aim to fully offset the impact of the pandemic on their economies as well as build a foundation for sustainable economic growth.

After weathering the first phase of the pandemic in 2020 relatively well, communication service providers (CSPs) will enter 2021 facing a brave new world and many tough decisions. The unrelenting virus is forcing economies and societies to fully embrace digital transformation as they adjust to the new normal, and it is forcing CSPs worldwide to take a hard, holistic look at their operational, business and growth models, and to adjust and accelerate their digital transformation road maps accordingly.

Fortunately for the telecom industry, a significant and growing portion of government stimulus is being earmarked to enable the ICT sector to accelerate infrastructure and ecosystem development. CSPs and their suppliers will be key beneficiaries of the trillions of dollars and other support mechanisms (e.g., tax breaks, low or no interest rate financing) governments will directly and indirectly inject into the ICT sector and broader economy for these purposes. This stimulus will help CSPs ease their capex and opex burdens as they migrate to the new network architecture and will ensure they have the capital necessary to keep their businesses going and their debt obligations satisfied.

2021 telecom predictions

  • Government stimulus powers ICT investment
  • Governments will increasingly democratize spectrum to ensure a vibrant 5G ecosystem
  • CSPs accelerate 5G SA road maps

Technology Business Research 2021 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud & software, telecom, devices & commercial IoT, data center, and services & digital.

Globally diversified government IT vendors buffered pandemic-related turbulence overseas with growth in U.S. federal sector

Overall government IT spending will take a significant hit from COVID-19; growth opportunities will eventually arise but on a longer-term horizon

Public sector market growth drivers

State and local governments in the U.S. as well as civilian agencies of international governments saw significant disruption to tax revenues and their ability to provide even basic levels of citizen-facing services as a result of the pandemic. Employment services agencies, for example, were suddenly forced to operate at sharply lower levels, if at all, while experiencing surges in new jobless claims. As a result, ongoing IT programs were put on hiatus while moratoriums on new technology initiatives were implemented. Conversely, spending on defense, intelligence and national security initiatives by foreign governments, even with temporary stoppages in delivery, was less affected by COVID-19, though essentially profiting only defense contractors like Raytheon Technologies, Northrop Grumman and others that have long-standing relationships with international defense agencies.

2Q20 Public Sector Revenue, Profitability and YTY Revenue Growth

TBR’s Public Sector IT Services Benchmark compares and contrasts covered vendors’ go-to-market models, recent investments and key deal wins. The benchmark also reviews numerous key financial performance metrics and highlights vendors that have been particularly successful in expanding market share and improving profitability.

Unprecedented levels of government support will help CSPs deploy 5G more quickly and broadly than originally anticipated

Communication service provider (CSP) spend on 5G infrastructure will scale faster and peak higher than originally anticipated due to the vast amount of support by governments in a range of countries, including but not limited to China, the U.S., the U.K., Japan, South Korea and Singapore. As a result, typical historical deployment curves for cellular technologies will not apply to the 5G market, which is now expected to be widely deployed globally by the middle of this decade instead of in the later years of the decade.

The pull forward and broadening of infrastructure investment are primarily due to attempts by leading countries to support their economies amid the COVID-19 crisis as well as to keep pace with China’s aggressive and broad investment initiative for competitive reasons. Over the past 12 months, 5G has become a highly political issue, and the unprecedented government involvement and funding are being justified on national security, economic competitiveness and public health grounds.

TBR’s 5G Telecom Market Landscape includes key findings, market size, customer adoption, operator positioning and strategies, geographic adoption, vendor positioning and strategies, and acquisition and alliance strategies and opportunities.

Federal IT vendors capitalizing on a growth-friendly spending environment expected to see healthy top-line expansion

Senior Analyst  John Caucis reports on three federal IT services providers this week, each delivering robust, double-digit revenue growth amid the strongest federal technology market witnessed in many years. “The strongest performance was tendered by CACI, whose revenue rose 16.9% year-to-year to $1.36 billion in 3Q19, showing the tight alignment of its differentiated solutions with high-priority spending areas in the defense and intelligence markets. CACI is beating incumbents on large-scale program recompetes and defending its incumbency on its own legacy engagements, while the strength of its fiscal performance points to a high-value solutions mix highly relevant to its core customers. CACI’s $1 billion in acquisitions in 1Q19 is also boosting revenue, adding between $115 million and $120 million in inorganic sales in 3Q19 (by TBR estimates), though also generating margin pressures.

Booz Allen Hamilton’s (BAH) revenue rose 12.7% year-to-year to $1.82 billion in 3Q19, consistent with the company’s plan to aggressively execute on its FY20 growth objectives during the first half of the fiscal year (calendar 2Q19 and 3Q19). BAH is realizing balanced growth across its government-focused business lines. Growth in BAH’s Global Commercial business has been more variable but has stabilized and is on solid footing for continued expansion in 2020. Finally, Leidos’ revenue rose 10.1% year-to-year to $2.84 billion in 3Q19. The company’s backlog continues to surge to new highs owing to a strong sustained pace of net-new contract bookings across the defense, civilian and, particularly, healthcare areas. Leidos also successfully defended its position on a handful of large projects, including the $2.9 billion, 10-year NASA End-User Services & Technologies (NEST) program and the $927 million IT and logistics support contract with the Transportation Security Administration.”

Additional assessments publishing this week from our analyst teams

“With the Syntel acquisition fully integrated globally, Atos’ next step is to explain Syntel’s capabilities to its internal sales and delivery teams and existing clients to successfully cross-sell its solutions and to effectively deliver services for cloud revenue growth and improved profitability. TBR does not expect the stepping down of Atos CEO Thierry Breton on Oct. 31 and appointment of Elie Girard, previously deputy CEO and CFO, to change the company’s strategic direction or negatively impact Atos’ performance. Girard will continue to steer the strategic direction of the company over the next two years around delivering business outcomes for customers utilizing Atos’ technology and services expertise in cloud and cybersecurity.” — Elitsa Bakalova, Senior Analyst

“Throughout 2019, Cognizant’s emphasis on evolving from its traditional roots to a digital transformation leader has resulted in multiple acquisitions and a flurry of restructuring efforts, such as the Digital Transformation Office. The Digital Transformation Office’s latest announcement is a two-year plan, 2020 Fit for Growth, which will result in additional layoffs and reskilling efforts around key technology areas such as data, IoT, digital engineering and cloud. The 2020 Fit for Growth plan is Cognizant’s furthest reaching plan so far in 2019, impacting 12,000 employees and resulting in the divesture of nonessential businesses to free up capital for digital growth and improve Cognizant’s cost structure. TBR believes the success of Cognizant’s restructuring and go-to-market realignment will require active involvement of its partner ecosystem to rapidly expand the scale of its new offerings and strengthen its positioning against competitors in the digital space.” — Kelly Lesiczka, Analyst

“Ongoing restructuring efforts to improve delivery and cost structure enabled Fujitsu Services to grow revenues and profitability in 3Q19 but could set the company back relative to peers. However, the speed of Fujitsu’s transition will dictate the extent to which its portfolio and delivery network can generate profitable growth in FY22.” — Lesiczka

T-Mobile will end 2019 on a high note, with the company’s annual postpaid net additions and adjusted EBITDA surpassing initial guidance expectations. T-Mobile’s momentum will continue in 2020 regardless of the outcome of the proposed Sprint merger, as the company’s widespread 5G coverage and expanding portfolio and service options will attract new customers.”  — Steve Vachon, Analyst

AT&T’s 3Q19 earnings highlight the challenges the company is experiencing as a result of extensive expansion over the past five years due to the acquisitions of Time Warner and DIRECTV and the launch of AT&T Mexico. Market challenges and shifting consumer preferences contributed to AT&T’s revenue declines in most segments, and the company remains debt-laden from its large-scale investments.” — Vachon  

WWT’s innovation center shines a spotlight on the company’s evolution from product reseller to outcome enabler

The rise of the innovation center as a platform for digital storytelling

Enabling customers’ digital transformations has become the holy grail opportunity for companies across the technology ecosystem. In a world in which everyone from server and storage vendors to technical services providers professes to be a “technology solutions provider,” marketing alone is insufficient to convince customers to entrust their digital futures to just a run-of-the-mill technology company. TBR’s research on the private and public sector consulting and IT services providers that typically deliver the expertise necessary to enable transformation shows that to do digital effectively for customers, providers must be digital internally.

Being digital means engaging in self-disruption by integrating internally the same innovative technologies that customers demand externally. It means adopting cloud operating models, developing IP and embracing new monetization cycles. These are difficult tasks, and not all technology companies are up to the challenge. Those that let fear paralyze action face the prospect of becoming irrelevant as more adventurous competitors build credibility around customer zero use cases leveraging partner-developed technology and come to clients armed with their own digital transformation success stories. Customers do not always care about a provider’s platinum-level certification from vendor X, Y or Z, but they will likely find something compelling in a provider’s story about navigating their own self-disruptions.

If customer zero is the story that successful services providers tell clients, then innovation centers are the stage on which the story is told. Innovation centers, digital studios, design studios, centers of excellence: There are almost as many names for these centers as there are examples of companies integrating them into their sales and marketing efforts. While it began with the leading consultancies, the innovation center trend has proliferated across all corners of the IT sector. A key component of providers’ overall innovation programs, the innovation center is where technology providers make digital transformation tangible for their customers. Innovation centers offer a neutral space to discuss business outside typical office settings, bring stakeholders to the table to identify and find solutions to problems, and develop blueprints for a successful transformation, enabled by collaboration between provider and customer. Innovation centers, when run correctly, evolve the conversation from one between buyer and seller to one between equal partners co-invested in enabling a successful digital initiative.

TBR recently spoke with World Wide Technology’s senior vice president of public sector sales, Bryan Thomas, to discuss the technology solutions provider’s new innovation center in Washington, D.C., and its connection to the company’s Advanced Technology Center in St. Louis. The conversation focused on how these centers improve client engagement and enhance go-to-market performance, as well as the importance of expert talent and the shift toward a consulting-led model to meet the specific mission objectives of federal clients.

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow: Amazon, RPA, AI and ethical IT in the federal sector

Notwithstanding the increased integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and process bots into government operations, the U.S. federal services sector decidedly remains a people business. At a recent Washington Technology Power Breakfast forum, industry leaders talked talent strategies and how they hope to succeed as digital transformation fundamentally changes the types of people sought for government work. A few key themes emerged as near-universal top-of-mind concerns for forum participants and audience members, such as the importance of developing a brand and messaging values that resonate with the emerging workforce; the criticality of public-private partnerships to develop talent in the greater Washington, D.C., area and beyond; and the concern and uncertainty about the human capital impact of Amazon’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) recent decision to become a much closer neighbor of Uncle Sam.

The trends and issues discussed often repeated themes TBR touches on regularly in its analysis of the IT industry, both within the federal market and across public and private sectors globally. While the perspectives shared were both validating and enlightening, there was just as much value in paying attention to what the panelists did not talk about at length. Today’s pressing HR demands leave little time for talent strategists to worry about the looming disruptive impacts of AI and robotic process automation (RPA), the fundamental changes in labor amid the rise of asset-based services, forward-thinking venture-capital-like approaches to partnerships, or the uncomfortable and growing issue of ethics conflicting with the eagerness to apply innovative IT to government missions. HR leaders and strategic decision makers at the leading services firms will need to grapple with these difficult topics today if they want to stay ahead of disruption that is just around the corner in the dynamic and rapidly changing IT industry.

 

 

Washington Technology Power Breakfast: TBR Public Sector Analyst Joey Cresta was recently invited to participate in a panel discussion on talent strategies of government contractors at a breakfast forum hosted by Washington Technology. The event provided an outlet for executives, HR experts and industry thought leaders to share how they intend to win talent in a competitive labor market while maintaining profitability and bracing for the impact of Amazon’s impending move into Crystal City.