While the pandemic made organizational agility a priority in every industry, telecommunications firms outranked peers in several other major sectors in overall agility, defined as their ability to adapt quickly to the crisis. A new ServiceNow/ESI ThoughtLab survey of executives in finance, healthcare, manufacturing, the public sector, and telecommunications found that one year into the crisis, telecom companies increased their agility through improvements in digitization, data management, employee experience, and other areas.
Already a leader in business agility prior to the crisis, telecoms helped millions of people making the shift to working from home, shopping, and connecting with friends and family.
Here are some other telecom industry highlights from the survey.
Telecom firms were well-positioned to scale up critical services before the pandemic and quick to adopt agile digitization strategies, and data management and security practices during the crisis. One-fourth of telecom companies said they responded swiftly to changing needs in customer experience, sales and marketing, and communications.
The sector’s overall agility score, developed as part of the survey, rose 38% during the course of the pandemic.
All surveyed telecom executives said they saw the greatest returns on agility investments during the pandemic from integrating workflows into enterprise platforms. Other value drivers were investments in remote working (51%) and adapting business models (50%) to meet changes in customer demands for more flexible pricing during the crisis.
More than three-fourths of executives expect investments in remote working to keep paying dividends over the next two years.
To respond to higher demand for their services, telecoms invested more in IT-related agility programs. Nearly three-quarters of executives reported building agile data management and security systems, up from 30% at the start of the pandemic; 45% said the same about agile IT platforms, up from 10%.
When life went fully digital during the pandemic, telecoms made significant improvements in their sales and marketing channels: At the outset, just 25% considered those channels agile; by the end of 2020, 68% said the same. Executives also reported that digital platforms yielded benefits in profitability (80%), customer retention (73%), and risk management (40%).
Executives cited poor data quality and the lack of access to it as the biggest barrier to making the company more agile. That’s one reason why surveyed organizations are prioritizing the development of more flexible data management and security systems and accelerating digitization and IT support.