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In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Claire Khoury, chief marketing, communication and CSR officer, Sofrecom, discussed how telcos innovate and find new opportunities for value, Sofrecom’s expertise and digital strategies, the importance of CSR and her views on gender equality. 

How does Sofrecom encourage telcos to evolve their business models profitably and sustainably?

Faced with increasing competition from new technology services companies, which have succeeded in capturing a significant part of the value of the sector, and with the necessary investments in network modernization, telecom operators are experiencing weak or declining growth. Given these challenges, they need to innovate and find new opportunities to maximize value.

By capitalizing on their technological expertise, infrastructure and large customer bases, telecom operators have great value-creation potential. These include:

  • Capitalizing on the virtualization/softwarization of their networks and accelerating the digitization of their operations to gain efficiency and agility.
  • Leverage 5G and Fiber opportunities by developing new use cases, particularly for the enterprise sector, and considering the challenges of each industry.
  • Monetizing customer data, whether technical or commercial.
  • Seize environmental challenges to generate savings in energy consumption and the circular economy, and above all, to develop new sustainable business models.
  • Skills challenges and business transformation: emerging digital technologies represent a crucial challenge, as their adoption can lead to significant productivity gains. They open up a wide range of opportunities and challenge the way work is currently organized. These changes have already begun. We therefore need to anticipate them to prepare operators and their employees for the transformations to come by providing answers to the following questions: What are the high-impact technologies for the telecoms sector? What are the main use cases, and what jobs do they impact? How can we prepare for this transition?
  • Finally, to continue to enhance the value of their technical infrastructures.

At Sofrecom, we help leading telecom operators meet the major challenges facing the sector. Telecom operators need to revamp their strategic and operational plans.

With a unique expertise in telecommunications, can you share Sofrecom’s global understanding of operational strategies across the entire value chain (business, IT and networks)?

Increasing market convergence between telco networks, software, services and content businesses is blurring the existing lines among traditional players in the telecom value chain. These fast-changing markets and uses are pushing the pace of innovation even faster. DATA AI, cloudification/virtualization, new 5G/6G mobile networks... challenges abound. The telecom industry's future leadership will depend on these issues. Telecom operators, whether incumbents or new players, are engaged in this far-reaching movement and are facing increasing difficulties to ensure a good return on investment in mature markets. They will have to boost these efforts to consolidate or enlarge their market positions.

The recent increase in competitive intensity will have major consequences for all players, who will need to achieve profitable growth while improving their operating model, the attractiveness and differentiation factors of their offers and services, and their customer loyalty.

In this new era, most telecom operators will have to wage multiple battles: fine-tuning their customer approaches, enhancing their customer experience, increasing their organizational agility, managing their ecological transition, optimizing the value generated by their innovations in a sector where only 10% offer a measurable competitive advantage, improving their talent management, but also preparing for future regulatory changes affecting pricing, population or territorial coverage obligations, and environmental and biodiversity issues.

At Sofrecom, what are the best practices the company follows to improve its digital strategies for marketing and communication purposes?

A marketing strategy has a purpose, but it must also be based on clearly defined objectives. The challenge is to draw up a scrupulously orchestrated action plan. We see our digital strategy as a path — the objectives of our marketing action being the different stages that drive our achievements!

That's why we capitalize on the SMART objectives approach:

  • S for Specific: the objective to be achieved.
  • M for Measurable: we define the KPI to be monitored.
  • A for Attainable: the result to be achieved.
  • R for Realistic: the feasibility and risks to be managed.
  • and T for Time-bound defined marketing to frame our actions: the deadline and timeframe for achieving this objective.

These 5 SMART criteria enable us to focus on the most useful actions for achieving our digital objectives and to mobilize our teams around these actions to move forward effectively, step by step. They enable us to effectively monitor the actions we take and measure how they are contributing to reaching our goals. Finally, they enable us to identify sources of problems and successes in our digital strategy.

What are the vital steps that Sofrecom applies to succeed in digital transformation while addressing CSR challenges?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a must, enabling companies to address and manage their businesses' human and environmental impact. Digital transformation consulting and services companies have a double commitment: making their own transition and encouraging/supporting their customers to successfully complete their digital transformation while meeting sustainable development challenges. We encourage such involvement by:

  • Internal alignment of employees and managers on CSR issues.
  • In-house training and awareness-raising for our teams and support for our customers.
  • Actively listening to the expectations of our teams and customers to prioritize our actions and plan our various initiatives over time.
  • A value proposition and support for our customers around the issues at stake, with specialist consultants in the field. 
  • Support and mobilization of our partners around these challenges in order to maximize the impact of these initiatives and establish them over the long term.
  • Regular communication on the progress of action plans to reassure and motivate.

As a female leader working in the ICT industry, please share your views on the importance of creating a more inclusive and diverse sector that drives innovation, fosters economic growth and improves the lives of women around the world.

In an increasingly digitalized world, the way we live and work has changed. While these changes may seem insignificant at first glance, they are having a significant influence on our mindsets and behaviors. Against this backdrop, gender equality is key. More than a fundamental right, this equality is essential to building modern, successful organizations. There can be no diversity of thought and experience without a fair representation of women within organizations; diversity underpins corporate performance and improves organizational culture.

A new study by the Alliance for Affordable Internet and the World Wide Web Foundation estimates that the digital divide between men and women has cost low- and middle-income countries $1,000 billion over the last ten years. According to the World Bank, this is equivalent to almost two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa's combined annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The European Commission also estimates that the inclusion of more women in the digital economy could create an annual increase in GDP in the European Union of 9 billion euros.

In this sense, promoting equal access for women to the potential of digital technologies should be at the heart of national digital strategies. At Sofrecom, we are working to promote the employment of women in this sector, both as a company and within our own teams, as well as through our missions with the various players in the sector.

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