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March 4, 2015

Telecoms execs: be bold with digital future approach

Research suggests that execs wait for someone else to make the first move.

By Alexander Sword

A majority of senior telecoms executives are not being bold enough in pursuing digital transformation, research suggests.

According to research commissioned by Wipro and published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, C-level executives would rather be early adopters of technology (48 per cent) than first movers (36 per cent).

In addition, five percent believed the time of adoption was not important and nine percent thought late adoption was best.

The report also revealed a discrepancy between the feelings of CEOs and CTOs on technology adoption. While 54 percent of CTOs felt their company was stronger than competitors on awareness about digital transformation, only 25 percent of CEOs felt the same.

This was compounded by 40 percent of CEOs thinking they were as good as or weaker on digital management awareness compared to their rivals.

"Feelings of insecurity (among CEOs) are perhaps understandable as innovation tends to be technology-led. A surprise survey finding is how widespread those feelings of inadequacy are.

"This report argues that digital transformation requires bold and confident leadership. Anxiety at the top should worry shareholders."

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There was widespread scepticism about new technologies. Currently only 16 percent of senior telecoms executives think that IoT and M2M applications will provide over 50 percent of revenue in the next five years.

Only three percent thought IoT and M2M techology would provide more than half of revenue. 26 percent believed that these technologies would provide 1-10 percent of their revenues, the largest response.

Additionally, 85 percent of C-level executives felt that most new digital products and services in the next five years will either come from external parties or be created in partnership with them.

Charles Ross, the editor of the report, said: "To avoid being marginalised many telecoms firms are creating a central digital role for themselves by building digital ecosystems which involve partnerships with innovative companies. This digital transformation requires bold leadership; anxiety at the top could be a bar to progress."

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