Industry Thought Leadership

The Backbone of Digital Ecosystem: Exploring the Vital Role of Telecoms in the Digital Ecosystem and the Importance of Data Management

April, 2023
Tarinder Pal Singh
Senior Director, Protiviti Member Firm for the Middle East Region


The digital economy and digital ecosystem have become integral to the modern world. The rise of digital technologies has revolutionized how businesses operate, and telecom companies have played a crucial role in this transformation. In this article, we will explore the impact of digital technologies on the economy, the concept of digital ecosystems, and the role of telecom companies in shaping the digital economy.

The Digital Economy
The digital economy encompasses many activities that rely on digital technologies, such as the internet, mobile devices, and other digital platforms. It encompasses all economic activities that use digital technologies to create, distribute, and consume goods and services. This includes producing, distributing, and consuming goods and services delivered through digital channels.

Digital technologies have significantly impacted the economy by enabling businesses to reach new markets and customers, reducing costs, and improving efficiency. Digital technologies have also transformed the nature of work, created new job opportunities, and changed how people work. The digital economy has become an essential driver of growth and innovation in recent years. It is estimated to be worth $23 trillion by 2025.

The Digital Ecosystem
A digital ecosystem refers to the interconnected network of digital services, products, and platforms that enable businesses to operate in the digital economy. Digital ecosystems comprise various components, such as cloud services, mobile apps, social media platforms, and e-commerce websites.

Digital ecosystems are essential because they enable businesses to reach new customers and markets, reduce costs, and improve efficiency. By providing access to a range of digital services and platforms, digital ecosystems enable businesses to focus on their core competencies and leverage the capabilities of other companies in the ecosystem.

The Role of Telecom Companies
The telecommunications sector has made significant progress since its inception, back from the days of landline phones and dial-up internet. Today, the industry is not only focusing on delivering high-speed internet access, and mobile connectivity but also building digital services for the ecosystem. One of the most significant changes in the telecom industry has been the shift from traditional voice and messaging services to data-centric services. The growth of cloud computing, big data, and the rapid growth of data usage due to the Internet of Things (IoT) has necessitated that telecom companies adjust their strategies to keep up with the demand. This has resulted in the widespread deployment of high-speed broadband networks, both wired and wireless, to enable the delivery of digital services.

Telecommunications companies have a significant role in the growth and evolution of digital ecosystems beyond just providing network connectivity. The companies provide the platforms and services that enable businesses to operate in the digital economy, such as cloud services, mobile apps, and e-commerce platforms.

The role of telecom in the digital economy and ecosystem cannot be overstated. Telecom companies are the backbone of the digital ecosystem, providing the infrastructure and connectivity that enables digital activities. Through bandwidth, connectivity, and data services, telecom companies facilitate digital communication, collaboration, and transactions for individuals and businesses. Looking ahead to 2025, several trends and predictions will shape the digital economy and ecosystem and the role of telecom companies in them.

Here are some of the most noteworthy ones:

  1. 5G networks will become widespread: 5G networks will provide faster, more reliable connectivity, enabling new digital experiences and applications, such as virtual and augmented reality, and advanced robotics.
  2. The Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to grow: IoT devices, such as smart home appliances, wearables, and industrial sensors, will become more widespread, creating new opportunities for businesses and consumers alike.
  3. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will become more prevalent: AI and ML will increasingly be used to automate tasks, improve decision-making, and create more personalized customer experiences.
  4. Cybersecurity will remain a top priority: As digital activities continue to expand; cybersecurity threats will become more complex and sophisticated. Telecom companies will be crucial in providing secure networks and protecting digital assets. As more data is transferred and stored online, cybersecurity measures will be needed to protect against cyber-attacks and data breaches.
  5. Digital payments and blockchain will become more mainstream: Digital payments will become more common, and blockchain technology will enable new forms of digital transactions and asset management.
    Increased collaboration between telecom and other industries: The growth of the digital economy and ecosystem will lead to increased collaboration between telecom and other industries such as healthcare, transportation, entertainment, e-commerce, and many more.
  6. There will be increasing importance of data and analytics in the digital economy. As more businesses and consumers go online, vast amounts of data are generated daily. Telecom companies are well-positioned to capture and analyze this data and achieve their digital strategy to enhance customer experience, bring innovations in new product and service development, digital marketing and sales, advanced risk optimization, and enhanced cross-industry collaboration. However, to extract maximum value from this data, telcos need a robust data strategy that is aimed at integrating diverse data sources, integrating diverse types of data, and simplifying the data landscape supported by data management and governance practices across the data lifecycle right from data ingestion, data processing, data storage, and data consumption.

A Telcom company's path to becoming a data-driven organization:

The journey to becoming a Data -Driven organization has 6 key elements as mentioned below:

  1. Data Strategy that has a vision, mission, goals, and measurable KPIs.
  2. Locating and Governing data across the telco, assigning ownership and setting up a data management office, and defining data governance framework.
  3. Data Quality & Enrichment – Assessing the quality of data domains and sub-domains and having a program thereafter to cleanse and enrich the data.
  4. Master Data Management – Having business and IT stakeholders collaborating to ensure accuracy, stewardship, consistency, and accountability of master domains relevant to the Telecom company – Customer, Product, Channel and Partners, Network, Employees, Inventory, etc.
  5. Architect and Implement Platform – Understanding current reporting requirements and data ambitions of the telco to define the data architecture and implement the data platform.
  6. To create value, companies can enhance their capabilities by developing data proficiency, recruiting, and training personnel, implementing effective data management protocols, and instituting a change management program that prioritizes superior data quality, infrastructure, monitoring and operations, insights, and adoption.

In conclusion, the digital economy and ecosystem are rapidly evolving, and telecom companies are at the forefront of this transformation. As we look ahead, we can expect to see continued growth and innovation in the digital space, driven by innovative technologies, applications, and business models and telecom companies would play a crucial role in this transformation by providing network connectivity, developing digital platforms, and services, and investing in research and development, telecom companies are driving innovation and shaping the digital economy. However, telcos need to realize that data is the bedrock of digital enablement and that to realize the true potential of this gold mine of data, a robust data strategy supported by a data governance program that is an integral part of business processes and thought processes will be well-positioned to thrive in the digital economy of the future.