Interviews

Communications Service Providers need to be thoughtful about their areas of focus, says Accenture’s Gary Heffernan

Gary Heffernan, ‎Senior Managing Director for Communications, Media & Technology, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Latin America - ‎Accenture

Speaking at the 2016 Telecom Review Summit, Gary Heffernan, senior managing director for Communications, Media & Technology, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America at Accenture, gave a thoughtful keynote speech about disruption within the Communications industry. He said: “There is no doubt that with the disruption and change that is going on around the industry, consumers have different and changing expectations of Communications Service Providers (CSPs).”

“I think the proliferation and explosion of devices, the explosion of consumption, and the explosion of experiences, creates a massive business upside for them, but only if they start to scale capabilities that will change their game on their customer experience,” said Mr. Heffernan.

“I believe in the need to inject new DNA – being digital capability - in CSPs’ organizations - a change that is absolutely critical as we think about the next generation of telecommunications,” Mr. Heffernan told delegates at the Summit. He added that there is “great opportunity” in what he calls “B2B 2.0”. Around the world, industries are crying out for innovation, and CSPs have the opportunity to empower enterprises with connectivity as the IoT starts becoming reality, he said.

According to Heffernan, the Communications, Media and Technology industries are providing the majority of game-changing technology and innovation. If we’re going to seize the “B2B 2.0” opportunity, he explained – whether that’s in SME’s or large corporates – we need more of the thinking that was highlighted at the Summit.

This includes collaboration with governments, creating the right investment climate, and becoming more pro-active in orchestrating the eco-system, whether that’s with start-ups or whether that’s with new innovators. These factors are “crucial” said Heffernan.

“In relation to the ongoing changes in the Communications industry, you can see that some European CSPs now believe that they’re going to be in the banking business,” Heffernan explained. “You look at companies like Orange, who have announced their intention to be a key player in mobile banking: they have already established “Orange Money” in the Middle East & Africa and now want to take what they’ve done there to other parts of the world.

“I think what’s happening with VOD and OTT is worrying for these industries, but I think CSPs need to be very thoughtful in what areas they’re going to play – and making sure they’ve got the vertical capabilities, the security capabilities, and the aggregator capabilities to be successful in whatever bets they choose.”

Discussing Dubai’s smart city transformation, Heffernan noted that there is clearly a “lot of vision” in the region – particularly with Dubai’s ability to attract talent. Right now, he said, the Communications industry needs leaders, not administrators: “Leaders that are going to have a vision and have the courage to try new things, and the courage to really transform their capabilities.” The capabilities of the last 20-30 years will “not be enough to transform any telecoms operator into a digital visionary.”

It’s absolutely crucial, Heffernan said, for CSPs to make the right investments in training and capability, and create the right environment for investment. “I truly believe that the key driver between success and failure will be talent,” said Heffernan. He also emphasized, “the ability to nurture, retain and unleash talent, even if it means challenging all the fundamental assumptions in your organization.”