Why Telecom CMOs Feel Disconnected From Their Always-On Customers

Less than 10 percent of telco marketers believe they are highly advanced and rapidly evolving when it comes being more data-driven, customer-responsive and digitally adaptive,” says CMO Council's Donovan Neale-May.

Considering the inherent connections between telco companies and mobile customers who never without their smartphones, there is a surprising lack of links between the two when it comes to omnichannel marketing, a CMO Council report shows.

A mere 4 percent of subscriber-reliant telco companies believe they are giving their customers a “consistent, personalized and contextually relevant experience across all traditional and digital channels by leveraging persistence of information, respecting the privacy of customers, and aligning the business needs with IT,” says the CMO Council study, Getting Serious About the Omni-Channel Experience, which was based on a survey of 250 marketers—100 from telecommunications organizations and 150 from non- telco brands.

Looking at the general marketplace, 56 percent of telco industry marketers believe that non-telco companies are out-performing telco operators and communications service providers in “delivering a true omni-channel experience.”

Still, perhaps this is a grass is always greener on the other side situation. A nominal 1 percent of brand marketers say they have a complete omnichannel management model in place, something that has been a common theme in previous CMO Council studies.

“Less than 10 percent of telco marketers believe they are highly advanced and rapidly evolving when it comes being more data-driven, customer-responsive and digitally adaptive,” notes Donovan Neale-May, Executive Director of the CMO Council. “More than 25 percent list functional integration; cultural, technical and operational hurdles; and resistance to change as obstacles to evolving to a true [omnichannel management] model.”

Connecting Telcos And Non-Telcos

To bridge the gaps on crafting solid omnichannel bridges between brands and consumers, telcos and general marketers are looking for ways to partner up. More than 50 percent of telcos have partnered with non-telco brands on marketing and promotional campaigns; nearly 70 percent of those report very positive, productive and fruitful relationships with good outcomes, the CMO Council study says.

“Omnichannel isn’t a simple one-way street,” says Trevor Cheung, COO of Open ROADS Community and Vice Chair of The Open Group, which is working with the CMO Council on a program designed to instill best practices related to customer experience. “In fact, our very name reflects the complexity of omni-channel transformation: Real-time, On-Demand, All-online, Do-It-Yourself, and Social. “Delivering the ROADS experience is an experience requirement and an architectural principle and it cannot be a single department fix. Marketing, technology, and customer service must work together. We believe the mindset, culture, and really the whole ecosystem needs to work together. This is necessary to handle the new consumer generation, but also the new business generation.”

Among the report’s topline findings:

  • There have been more than 8 trillion mobile connections as of August of 2017, including machine-to-machine connections. This represents a 4.70-percent growth in mobile connections year over year (GSMA Insights).
  • There are more than 5 trillion unique mobile subscribers as of August 2017. This represents a 4.67-percent increase in unique mobile subscribers year over year (GSMA Insights).
  • These subscribers are looking at their mobile devices more than 9 billion times per day— up 13 percent year over year, according to Deloitte.
  • 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, according to Gartner forecasts. This represents a 31-percent increase from 2016. Gartner predicts that this number will reach 20.4 billion by 2020.
  • October 2016 marked the month that mobile web surpassed desktop, according to StatCounter, as 51.3 percent of all web visits that month came from mobile devices compared to 48.7 percent of visits from traditional desktop computing. By July 2017, the gap had grown to 55 percent from mobile web and 41.2 percent from desktop.
  • 163 ZB of data will be created by 2025, according to IDG, representing a tenfold increase in data. IDG goes on to predict that in 2025, 20 percent of that global repository will be critical to daily life. The prediction goes on to posit that the average connected person will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times per day—one interaction every 18 seconds—anywhere around the world. Making the data picture more complex, IDG also believes that 93 percent of all digital data will be unstructured.

The stats highlight the challenge that “mobile network operators” face right now as consumer behavior is undergoing a massive change in the blurring of online and offline activity.

The next generation of connection, 5G, is expected to hit the market by 2020 and reach 25 million global subscriptions by 2021, the report says. In order to reach this launch, experts believe global spending on 5G mobile infrastructure will likely reach $2.3 billion by 2021.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.