As engineering organisations, telcos are used to building, running and owning their own applications and systems, which aren’t cloud native. For some it may seem both a cumbersome and risky task to move these legacy applications to the cloud, but if deployed correctly and securely, cloud can not only accelerate service deployments but provide better business outcomes for telcos.

I had the pleasure of speaking at a techUK webinar last week exploring how telco operators can revolutionise their business operations and services through cloud. Here are the main takeaways from our discussion:

The telco cloud market is growing:

The telco cloud market is forecast to experience double-digit growth, projected to reach USD 95 billion by 2027. This will be driven by use cases including the industrial internet of things, autonomous vehicles and the increasing use of robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality in sectors like construction and manufacturing. In terms of scaling, end-users are now not only humans with devices but also include other devices, artificial intelligence tools and robots.

Using hyper-scalers will maximise cloud’s potential:

Partnering with a cloud hyper-scaler can help telcos extract maximum benefit from the opportunity of moving to the cloud. For instance, by leveraging Platform as a Service (PaaS) services, telco IT teams will be freed up from managing the most onerous part of infrastructure, like patching, and immediately benefit from constantly up-to-date applications, automation and standardisation.

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Disruption is here to stay, but telcos are behind the curve:

Telcos are in the eye of the storm—there has already been a lot of disruption and it’s not over yet. Customer expectations continue to rise driven by positive customer experiences from digital first businesses, for example the Amazon “one click” purchase that we have all become so familiar with.  Compare that to the often clunky online experience to purchase a new mobile handset. Telcos have, in general, been too slow to respond to consumers’ “liquid expectations”—they’re behind the curve in terms of customer experience compared with organisations in other sectors who have been able to delight customers even during lockdown.

It’s time for telcos to diversify the value proposition:

Nobody could deny that we’re living and working in a hyper-connected world. More people than ever are working from home, children are being educated at home, we’re shopping, socialising, even attempting to get fit or learn a new skill online. There is an opportunity here for telcos to diversify their value proposition, to accelerate the adoption and automation of digital channels, to leverage the trust factor of being in so many homes and pockets. In fact, our research shows that customers trust telcos over and above eCommerce sites, social media platforms and other digital providers in terms of data security. In essence, they have customer permission to build—or partner to deliver—new services.

Think security at every stage of your journey to the cloud:

A telco’s existing security practices may be unsuitable for a cloud environment in terms of governance and compliance, and it’s an inherently more complex environment. The need for security can easily be overshadowed by the need to move fast and enable the business.  Combined with the fact that telcos may not have the right skills internally, and competition for talent in this space is rife, the challenges of a secure move to the cloud may start to add up. The answer? Both transparent governance and proactive compliance are needed. Transparent governance to monitor and scan cloud environments to identify and remediate anomalies, and proactive governance to take advantages of cloud providers new security services and capabilities.  And when it comes to skills, the developer community is emerging as a promising pool of security talent which should be explored.

Security leaders should ask the right questions up front:

Buy versus build? How much native? How do you choose the right cloud models and partners? How will you ensure secure interoperability between clouds, and legacy on premises?  When should you replicate security controls versus abstracting, and how do you drive consistency in security operations? These are all questions that telco security leaders need to consider upfront before embarking on the cloud journey. And while mitigating risk and protecting data in the cloud is a priority, security should be embedded consistently. Too often, it is added at the end of the cloud journey and can delay business outcomes or result in having to do the work all over again. 

Secure cloud can help drive better business outcomes:

While cloud offers telcos new opportunities to modernise services and transform operations, security and compliance risk remains the greatest barrier to cloud adoption. In fact, our research shows that less than 40% of companies say they are currently achieving the full value expected on their cloud investments. But telco security leaders can be the cloud champion rather than a blocker, bringing clear strategic intent, a nimble governance model, alignment —across the IT organisation and the rest of the business—and implementation in line with enterprise risk tolerance.

If you’d like to know more about how to make your cloud journey more secure, you can read our latest report, or please get in touch directly.


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Oliver Neuberger

Managing Director – Accenture Security

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