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Start at the center: network-led transformation for growth

5-minute read

In brief

  • Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are leveraging new technologies to launch growth and stay ahead of change.
  • Cloud, data, AI, security, and new device development can accelerate network transformation and create unprecedented value.
  • Early adopters of network-led transformation expect significantly higher revenue and gross margin performance over the next three years.
  • Accenture provides three practical recommendations for CSPs to achieve network-led transformation and unlock new network capabilities.

Agility, Efficiency, Innovation

CSPs continue to invest billions in networks, both fixed and wireless. The challenge at hand is how their current network transformation can go beyond a generational upgrade, and in turn reinvent the organization to continuously improve and leverage new technology. Our recent survey of 200 global telecommunications companies found technology, product and finance leaders aligned on three objectives:

  1. Build more flexible, agile network
  2. Run their networks more efficiently
  3. Create network environments that enable innovation and new products

Accomplishing all these objectives is possible, but only through an enterprise-wide network transformation. Notably, such transformation offers returns across C-suite agendas.

What we’re learning from CFOs


say the ability to innovate using public cloud infrastructure is key.


point to the need for more flexibility, scalability and ease to deploy.


call for greater network agility and self-healing qualities.

Embracing innovation. Launching reinvention.

Network-led transformation is a continuous reinvention strategy that redesigns and rearchitects the network by combining cloud-based technologies, along with the associated operating models, processes, and talent.

The goal is to achieve an agile network, capable of scaling new growth with advanced network capabilities and continuously optimizing network costs and operations.

It is not a one-size-fits-all approach but depends on specific priorities, network assets owned, and the CSP’s stage of readiness for reinvention.

What we’re learning from CTOs


cited network infrastructure flexibility as a significant priority.


cited improving time to market for new products/services as a priority.


CSP technology executives cited that the ability to scale and innovate using public cloud infrastructure is an important criterion for modern network in their company.

Early leaders. Strong results.

CSPs leading network transformation are expecting tangible results from their investments. In our study, 77% of executives believe the network transformation efforts currently in place will have a high impact on their revenue and margin performance in the next three years.

Only 13% of those surveyed, however, are accelerating their investments in next- generation networks. These leaders have higher expectations about their future performance.

We identified this leading group based on their positive projected financial and operational outcomes for the next three years. Specifically, they expect 1.5 times revenue and 1.8 times gross margin over others in that timeframe.

% CSPs expecting double-digit average growth on the following KPIs over the next 3 years
% CSPs expecting double-digit average growth on the following KPIs over the next 3 years

CSPs expect results from their investments. In our study, 77% of executives believe that network transformation will highly impact revenue and margins in the next three years.

Three next steps for CSPs

CSPs must build their network as a platform to enable continuous innovation and optimal operations. But the approach to network-led transformation will differ based on each CSP's business priorities and assets owned. Here are three recommendations to consider:

1. Re-engineer for flexibility and agility

CSPs must define their future goals and create a roadmap while adopting an agile mindset. Agile software development and operations (DevOps) enable continuous integration, testing, and deployment.

2. Optimize network deployment and operations with the power of automation and analytics 

Advanced AI and analytics can boost efficiency, optimize expenditures, and free up funds for growth. In addition, intelligent network deployment facilitates automation, lowers TCO and time-to-market and reduces costs of legacy technologies through SaaS partnerships.

3. Strategically open the network to enable new products and offerings

Standardized network APIs encourage third-party developers to build solutions on an existing network platform. This gives developers access to network data to build new solutions and reduces time-to-market.

Sharper, smarter, repositioned

There is no single network transformation path for all CSPs, yet each must adopt an approach that includes talent strategy and strengthens its digital core to enable continuous innovation through new capabilities. Advances in networks will reposition CSPs with forward looking capabilities and unlock opportunities for new value creation.

CSPs that lead the way with network-led transformation will not only open the network to offer new products and services and manage network operations more efficiently, but also drive network innovations that will become vehicles for business growth.


Jefferson Wang

Senior Managing Director – Global Technology Convergence Lead

Hillol Roy

Managing Director – Cloud First Networks, Technology and Innovation Lead

Mark Flynn

Senior Manager – Accenture Research

Swati Vyas

Senior Principal – Global Communications & Media Research Lead