Ecosystem strategy is essential for CSPs ‘losing ground’ in B2B 5G, says report

Angus Ward, CEO, BearingPoint//Beyond

Telcos are losing ground in early enterprise 5G projects, and they need to act quickly to recover positions of influence as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. So says BearingPoint//Beyond, which is working in collaboration with Omdia (previously Ovum).

BearingPoint//Beyond has now released a report outlining how communications service providers (CSPs) must change strategies in order to drive revenues from their 5G investments. The study demonstrates alignment between CSPs and enterprises on the importance of 5G but reveals a worrying trend for CSP 5G revenues based on their roles in early 5G enterprise projects.

The report finds that 5G strategies focused on selling communications solutions only are failing and that only CSPs engaging partner ecosystems to solve enterprises’ business problems will be able to make up lost ground. Additionally, it identifies key vertical markets, uncovers initial success stories and opportunities and key learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omdia reports that 72.8% of CSPs believe most of their 5G revenues will come from B2B, B2B2X or government / smart cities opportunities. Earlier this year, BearingPoint//Beyond research showed that CSPs expect a 15% increase in current revenues from B2B 5G services. However, Omdia’s Enterprise 5G Innovation Tracker reveals that they’re already being cut out of strategic engagement and solution building with enterprise partners. In 40% of enterprise 5G deals signed CSPs were the secondary supplier. In all, 32% were led by enterprises – only 21% were led by CSPs.

“Only one in five early enterprise 5G deals are CSP-led, proving that the way CSPs want to sell is at odds with the way in which businesses want to buy. What’s deeply concerning is that some of these early deals, such as the ones we see in automotive, cut out CSPs entirely – even connectivity is being provided by other suppliers. Businesses want to buy complete solutions that fit their needs and help them solve business problems, rather than individual technology assets. This is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity that CSPs need to address fast and requires CSPs to collaborate with enterprises and SMBs to better understand their reality,” says Angus Ward, CEO, BearingPoint//Beyond.

The report emphasizes the need for CSPs to change their posture from ‘5G-first’ to ‘business-first’ thinking, focusing on applications and vertical-specific solutions. It finds that enterprises are already making the connection between 5G and applications. Omdia asserts that 5G will act as a catalyst for those enterprises that are still hesitant about the deployment of specific applications and will enhance certain applications that are going to be deployed anyway.

“CSPs will only realise value from 5G if they can identify, partner, codevelop, implement, and run a proposition with application-specific and industry-specific specialists,” says Evan Kirchheimer, research vice president, service provider & communications, Omdia. “CSPs that can orchestrate such a complex web of relationships will be capable of capturing a greater share of the market and will not be relegated to being one of many connectivity providers competing solely on price.”

Omdia’s Enterprise 5G Innovation Tracker reveals that manufacturing, transport, utilities and energy/mining sectors account for nearly 80% of early enterprise 5G deals. As an enabler of business solutions, 5G’s value will be realised through industry specific processes, supply chains, partnerships, and applications. The report points to examples of how Deutsche TelekomVerizon and Telefonica are starting to form industry partnerships to access these verticals.

“The promise of enterprise 5G is there for the taking, but CSPs must realise they will need to master ecosystem orchestration, including joint go-to-market with vendors and cocreation with customers,” says Dario Talmesio, principal analyst & practice leader, CSPs Europe, Omdia.

Omdia believes that the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing the ‘fast-forward’ button on enterprise demand for 5G technology solutions. Indeed, 5G investment in China is already recovering because the country recognises the importance of accelerating the digitalisation of industries to guard against future risk. Omdia expects this trend to unfold globally as COVID-19 makes digitising the physical, enabling a work-anywhere economy and mitigating risk in supply chains through an ecosystem play more relevant than ever.

“The report notes that the brave new 5G world demands that CSPs be brave. CSPs have to embrace platform-based business models and orchestrate partner ecosystems to meet specific enterprise demands. This requires a change in mindset, experimenting with business models, accelerating testing and monetising speed to test and monetise new offerings that are co-created with ecosystem of partners and underpinned by the right IT platform to support these new ways of working,” concludes Ward.

“Fundamentally, CSPs must become 5G ecosystem orchestrators. That’s the only way they can hope to meet enterprise business needs and re-integrate themselves into enterprise 5G value-chain as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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