Vision stories: Getting the most for transformation

Developing a vision

STL Partners began this investigation with the hypothesis that a vision (some statement of a desired future end state) is imperative to secure stakeholder buy-in for a successful business transformation. As we researched this hypothesis, it became clear that having a vision statement is not enough. Increasingly, transforming telcos do have a vision-like statement of some kind, but they continue to struggle with buy-in and the movement towards new ways of doing things.

A 2021 ETIS study (TeBIT 2021) leveraged BCG’s Digital Acceleration Index (DAI) to evaluate the digital maturity (i.e. extent of transformation) of European telco participants. While typically lagged telco digital maturity levels worldwide, both telcos at a worldwide and European level were rated generally more progressed in terms of their digital purpose, vision and ambition than in any other DAI category (see top line “Purpose and strategy” in figure below): Telcos are putting transformation visions in place. However this does not translate into higher maturity elsewhere (i.e. Technology Enablers or Human Enablers).

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Telcos are putting transformation visions in place

telcos-putting-transformation-visions-in-place-stl-partners

Source: ETIS/BCG TeBIT Benchmarking Report 2021

Further to this, in a survey of 56 telco employees (between March and July 2022), STL Partners found that executive visions could do more to drive transformations (figure below). The sample was limited to telcos from the APAC region, however this message has been echoed across STL Partners’ client interactions.

The quality of an executive vision facilitates transformation

telco-steps-to-better-facilitate-transformation

Source: Survey conducted by STL Partners, n = 56

This begged the question: if telcos potentially have some kind of “vision” in place, why are these visions not driving transformation?

In this report we examine their vision practices to understand how these may be impacting transformation buy-in and action among stakeholders (particularly those most impacted by the change – employees), as determined by progress of transformation to date. We want to identify how telcos can leverage a vision to guide and unite stakeholders to drive the transformation forward.

What is a vision?

For the purposes of this report, a vision is regarded as a picture of a future that outlines where the company is headed in achieving its goals.
Vision can be provided through a transforming entity’s statements of “purpose”, “ambition”, “mission” or indeed “vision”. Nomenclature varies by organisation, and some may describe their desired future through a combination of the above. We believe that what is important in driving transformation is not the designated labels, but the fact that a picture of the future exists, and that the telco is driving towards it.
One of the biggest proponents of vision as essential for driving change is Dr John P. Kotter, who originally published his seminal work “Leading Change” in 1996. He defines a vision as “a picture of the future with some explicit or implicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future”.

Why does a vision matter?

Organisations need a vision to act as a guiding light or beacon for stakeholders to unite behind and strive towards to realise the transformation. The existence of a vision helps to demonstrate the gap between the organisation’s current status and where it wants to be, making the need for change evident.

A vision reveals the need for change

Vision-stories-STL-Partners-need-for-change

Source: STL Partners

Kotter says a good vision serves three important purposes:

  1. It clarifies the direction of change: An effective vision will eliminate confusion or disagreements on direction or doubts on the necessity for change. Asking a simple question – is this in line with the vision? – can eliminate discussion and speed up decision making.
  2. It motivates people to take action in the right direction: Change may be painful for people in the short term and not in their best interest. A vision helps to overcome reluctance to change.
  3. It helps co-ordinate the actions of thousands of different people in a fast and efficient way: The alternative may be endless meetings or detailed directives, which is slower and costlier. A good vision enables people to take action without having to constantly check with their boss.

Table of contents

  • Executive Summary
    • Five recommendations for the “vision story”
    • The scope of transformation and the need for a story
    • Comparison of approaches
    • Next Steps
  • Introduction
  • What is a vision?
    • Why does a vision matter?
  • Spark New Zealand
    • The need for change at Spark
    • The scope of Spark’s transformation
    • How Spark communicated its vision for transformation
    • Leaders invested time in communication
    • Summary of Spark’s practices and results
  • BT Digital, UK
    • The need for change at BT Digital
    • The scope of BT Digital’s transformation
    • How BT Digital communicated its vision for transformation
    • Summary of BT Digital’s practices and results
  • M1, Singapore
    • The need for change at M1
    • The scope of M1’s transformation
    • How M1 communicated its vision for transformation
    • Driving the vision home
    • Summary of M1’s practices and results
  • Conclusions and recommendations
    • What to communicate
    • How to communicate
    • The role of leaders
    • Recommendations

Related Research

Previous STL Partners reports aligned to this topic include:

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Telco digital customer engagement: What makes a winning strategy?

Introduction

Customer experience is at the centre of telcos’ digital transformation efforts

Telecoms is one of many industries that are transitioning towards becoming more digitalised businesses. More specifically within digital transformation, the need to be customer-centric, and improve customer engagement, has been a crucial theme in telco digital transformation efforts. This is exemplified by Orange’s CEO Stèphane Richard who recently claimed that users needed to be “at the core of systems”.

As revenue growth in the industry continues to decline and telecom operators’ core services become commoditised, customer experience remains as one of the few areas operators can differentiate themselves from their competitors and maintain relevance with consumers. This places greater need for operators to make customer engagement a priority.

The way in which telcos engage customers has changed dramatically in recent years through the growth of different channels and touch-points a customer has access to. This is often contributed to the rapid adoption of smartphones and tablets, initiated by the launch of the iPhone in 2007, and the speedy adoption of social media platforms like Facebook (launched 2004) and Twitter (launched in 2006). Customers now expect businesses to be digitally savvy, knowledgeable and “joined-up” in their interactions with them.

There is no shortage of commentators and technology providers extolling the virtues of a more customercentric focus, urging operators adopt an omnichannel approach. By integrating online, call centre and bricks-and-mortar store customer experiences – through omnichannel capabilities – the promise to operators is that they can deliver joined-up customer experiences: simultaneously improving the effectiveness of telecoms marketing by building a ‘single-view’ of the customer, reducing time spent on resolving customer service issues, and preventing data from getting stuck in specific siloes.

But are these investments in technology (and the considerable internal resource implications) really a priority for operators or just another example of technology vendors pushing operators to spend more on expensive capabilities that they will never benefit from? Our survey suggests that those operators who have built omnichannel capabilities are reaping the rewards. However, operators also appreciate that success is not just down to implementing fancy systems: it’s also about what you do with them and having the right skills.

Telcos’ benchmarks come from within and outside the industry

Although most telcos are investing in their efforts to digitise the customer experience, it may not be obvious where they should be concentrating their efforts and what targets they should be aiming for. For this, there is a need to determine what the relevant benchmarks are when it comes to best-practice for digital engagement, how well they stack up and how they should seek to close the gap.

Telcos are looking to learn from outside their industry as customer engagement is a domain that all businesses constantly seek to improve. Digital natives, companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix that started off as digital businesses and did not have to make a transition from legacy practices, are often leading the way when it comes to offering customers a truly digitized experience. However, for a telco, it may seem like an unrealistic dream to replicate their efforts, therefore telcos often look for best-practice examples from other industries, which are undergoing a digital transformation and still have the burden of legacy services, systems, processes, people and infrastructure. These industries include finance, retail and media.

Nonetheless, when comparing telcos’ digital customer engagement to these industries, many different measures suggest that telcos are lagging behind. When looking at cross-industry Net Promoter Scores (NPS), telecoms operators come out at an average of 11% compared to an average of 50% for retail (which leads all industries). The next worst industry, insurance, has an average score of 23%, just over twice that of telecoms.

These statistics suggest there is room for improvement, but in which specific areas do the most critical gaps exist and how should telcos go about changing this?

So, STL Partners has attempted to answer two questions:

  1. What should telcos be aiming for?
  2. How well are telcos measuring up to their ambitions in digital customer engagement?

To address this, we created an online tool to benchmark telcos across various metrics in three domains related to digital customer engagement: commerce, marketing and sales & service.

The Digital Customer Engagement Benchmarking Study5 took place in two phases. The first phase was focused on commerce and took place over July and August 2016. In the second phase, the scope was expanded to include marketing and sales & service and took place in April and May 2017. In total, 70 respondents from 47 telecoms operators took part in the study.

For the purposes of this study, operators are categorised into 2 ‘peer groups’:

  • Mature Market: Medium-high income per user, predominantly post-pay, developed fixed infrastructure
  • Mobile First: Low-Medium income per user, predominantly pre-pay with limited fixed infrastructure

Figure 1: Respondents by region and peer group

chart on global customer experience survey

Source: STL Partners

Contents:

  • Preface
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Characterising operators’ digital customer engagement strategies
  • Commerce: selling more digitally and selling digitally more
  • Telcos’ online channels are still not being used enough by customers and prospects
  • Revenue benefits from online channels are relatively lower
  • Leveraging digital channels to upsell customers is one way to help drive online revenue
  • Data use is the key differentiator for a successful digital commerce approach
  • What is best practice for commerce?
  • Commerce Case Studies
  • Marketing: this time it’s personal
  • A (good) personalised marketing approach is more likely to secure returns…
  • …but most telcos’ marketing still uses traditional customer segmentation
  • What is best practice for marketing?
  • Marketing Case Studies
  • Sales & Service: Delivering the promise
  • Customers of the Omnichannel operator group are most actively engaged on digital channels
  • Online service engagement requires adequate channels and functionality
  • Omnichannel operators add value to customer service by ensuring complete visibility of customers
  • What is best practice for sales & service?
  • Sales & Service Case Study
  • Conclusions

Figures:

  • Figure 1: Respondents by region and peer group
  • Figure 2: Mapping operator digital customer engagement strategies
  • Figure 3: On average, less than 20% of total sales are from online channels
  • Figure 4: Variation between average telco and best performer across online sales
  • Figure 5: ARPU tends to be higher for customers who purchase their core package on offline channels
  • Figure 6: Mature Market operators have higher online attachment rates than Mobile First
  • Figure 7: Most operators are offering at least one online channel for upgrades
  • Figure 8: Omnichannel operators out-perform in digital commerce
  • Figure 9: Our research shows a link between the levels of personalised marketing and online marketing conversion rate
  • Figure 10: Most operators are not using personalised marketing techniques
  • Figure 11: On average, most customer interactions are not contextual
  • Figure 12: Online marketing conversion rates are at 31% across operators
  • Figure 13: A minority of purchases are being scaled up
  • Figure 14: Omnichannel operators excel in app-based customer engagementrst
  • Figure 15: Omnichannel operators are ahead in the number of channels a customer can use to raise a ticket
  • Figure 16: Omnichannel operators excel in the functionality of their channel offerings
  • Figure 17: Omnichannel operators lead converged billing capabilities
  • Figure 18: Omnichannel operators are on average twice as likely to have complete and partial visibility of customers compared to Digital Nascent operators