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Telcos Lag Six Years Behind Hyperscalers in Key Tech Skills, Jeopardizing Future Growth

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Telcos are more than six years behind hyperscalers like Microsoft, Google or Meta when it comes to building strategic capabilities in the workforce for success in the future, according to the latest research by technology analyst firm STL Partners.

LONDON, ENGLAND, April 10, 2024 

• Telcos lag behind hyperscalers and similar tech companies in acquiring skills such as AI, innovation and user experience that will help to secure their futures.

• Building key tech capabilities is of strategic importance for telcos to realise their ambitions.

“The ‘telco-to-techco’ ambition is shared by many telecom operators who want to operate and be valued in a similar way to tech giants. To achieve such a challenging transformation, telcos need access to certain critical skills. Our research has identified nine categories of skills, ranging from software, cloud and cyber security to AI and innovation, that prepare telcos to take advantage of the growth opportunities that open, software-based networks will allow in the future.” says Nicola Warren, Senior Analyst, STL Partners

In a sample of 19 telecom operators and nine tech companies from around the world, it was revealed that an average of 14% of the telco jobs were focused on these future skills categories. This compares to 31% for the techcos. Among the telcos in the study, Swisscom, Singtel and Telstra are frontrunners and see the largest share – over 20% – of their workforce in jobs that relate to future capabilities.

Further findings suggest that telcos have extended their focus on future capabilities, with almost all telcos accelerating the acquisition of such skills over a 12-month period. “Software and data analytics roles assumed a higher share of telco recruitment than network roles in the last year. Telcos’ investment in cyber security and automation was also more aggressive than that of techcos in this period. However, automation and user experience investment and acquisition of artificial intelligence expertise is still not strong enough” continues Warren.

“Bringing in the right capabilities, and doing it quickly, is so critical for telcos’ future success that achieving this goal should be elevated to the highest level in the organisations”, observes Marina Koytcheva, research director at STL Partners. “Competition for the best tech talent is fierce in many countries, so telcos need to rapidly upskill their current workforce if they want to be equipped for growth in the future.”

STL Partners is a leading, global research and consulting firm that focuses on the telecoms and technology industries. We enable telcos, tech companies, and their partners to make the world run better. More information on our research and services is available at

Nicola Warren

Senior Analyst