Study reveals post-Covid CSP opportunities

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Customer engagement solutions specialist CSG and TMT management consultancy Analysys Mason have released the results from their research collaboration examining how well-positioned communications service providers (CSPs) are to meet future enterprise demand for communications and IT services post Covid-19.

Key to the report was the finding that a significant 80+ per cent of the largest global enterprises surveyed will consider buying edge, 5G-slicing and private network services within the next five years. Though opportunities abound, disparities between CSP and enterprise views on the importance of technology solutions and billing and invoicing for supplier selection could lead many CSPs to fall short on capitalising on the post-pandemic economy.

The CSG commissioned report – Large Enterprises’ Demand for Communications and IT services – surveyed 16 CSPs and more than 200 multinational corporations between February and May 2021. The report focused on three core areas: identifying changing patterns of enterprise demand for communications and IT services; the opportunity for CSPs; and the role of billing and invoicin

Looking more closely at the findings, 92 per cent of enterprise respondents have accelerated their plans to use more IoT, security, cloud and unified communication services. Though connectivity still accounts for the majority of current revenue for CSPs from large enterprises, cloud, security, edge and IoT services have come out on top as the main drivers of future revenue growth. In fact, 66 per cent of enterprises surveyed expect to increase cloud services spending in the next 12 months, reflecting the growing importance of the cloud for business continuity.

“There is significant appetite among enterprises to buy additional IT services from their main communications provider,” notes Catherine Hammond, principal analyst, Analysys Mason. “Up to 50 per cent of enterprises today say they already buy cloud, security and IoT services from their main CSP and another 30 per cent would consider buying these services from their CSP in future. This poses an opportunity for CSPs to continue investing in leading edge technologies that not only broaden their portfolio but enable them to deliver a one-stop-shop to meet enterprise IT needs.”

“5G, cloud and IoT are disrupting the CSP market in profound ways,” observes Ken Kennedy, COO and global head of revenue management and digital monetisation for CSG. “It’s no longer purely about voice and data. Today’s enterprises look to their communications provider to deliver a broad ecosystem of products and services that will allow them to unleash the full potential of their business. To deliver on this promise, CSPs need to modernise their technology stacks to create scalable processes that enable them to bring new products and services to market faster and lead to new revenue streams.”

Additional key report findings include:

  • CSP revenue from IT is increasing, but not as rapidly as enterprises are increasing their IT spend. This suggests that the CSP share of this spend is falling. Only a quarter of CSPs surveyed report selling services other than voice and data connectivity to the majority of their enterprise customers.
  • Enterprises rated the importance of technical solutions in supplier selection significantly higher than CSPs at 4.4 vs 4.1 on a scale of 1 to 5. This disparity could be a limiting factor that impacts the number of enterprises choosing to buy more IT services from CSPs if CSPs don’t continue to invest in broadening their products and services portfolio.
  • More than 60 per cent of enterprises reported using at least three different suppliers for their core communications services with nearly all enterprises expressing the desire to reduce this number. The most common reason (69 per cent) cited for multiple suppliers was the need for additional services, suggesting an opportunity for suppliers with a wide portfolio to upsell add-on services.
  • Billing and invoicing are considered to be very important in supplier selection by many enterprises – more so than by CSPs. Seventy-seven per cent of enterprises rated it as very or somewhat important as compared to only 58 per cent of CSPs. This gap could lead to customer churn as poor billing and invoicing was cited by 21 per cent of enterprises as a reason for not renewing their contract.
  • The proliferation of cloud and ‘as-a-service’ models is creating demand for more flexible billing, and this trend is only likely to increase in future. Many CSPs currently use work-around solutions for new services, which is unsustainable. Automation will be key for CSPs to scale and grow for the future.

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