Venturing into the World of Enterprise 5G

5G will undoubtedly shake up the wireless ecosystem. From mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs), cloud providers, equipment vendors, IT, and technology service providers to software and solution developers, systems integrators, innovation labs, and governments, there are endless potential providers of 5G technologies and services. Of all these players, the wireless carrier is most primed to play—and win. 

Wireless carriers are well-positioned to bring the new 5G economy to life. First, they must venture successfully into the enterprise segment. Still, a critical question remains: What will it take to build credibility and flourish? Ascending to the enterprise 5G competitive high ground requires a wide-ranging focus on the customer experience, operating models, and partnerships. In all these efforts, the workforce is essential to taking the first steps. Wireless carriers can compete for and win enterprise customers and the next wave of revenue growth with a people-first focus. In this blog, we’ll show you how.

The rise of 5G: Propelling change in wireless

Let’s start first with a glance at where the industry stands today. Decades in the making, wireless carriers have fine-tuned their organizations to chase customer additions, maximize revenue, and grow the subscriber base. Fueled by Wall Street analysts hanging onto these numbers—numbers that drive billions in value worldwide—the industry’s hyper-focus on revenue is no surprise. 

The industry has an established, mature consumer wireless business. The result? Revenue growth is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Margins are eroding. The sector now competes on an elevated playing field: Fighting to retain customers rather than attract new ones. In the case of established carriers, it is unrealistic to believe that retail consumer additions will drive meaningful revenue growth as they did before.

But all is not lost for the industry.

Combined with IoT, cloud core networks, and increased device connectivity, 5G promises to deliver the next wave of growth for wireless carriers. 5G is a collection of advanced technologies that will drive the evolution toward hyper-scaled connectivity. In the decades ahead, consumer 5G will remain table stakes, but the growth potential of government, enterprise, and large business customers is expected to eclipse other revenue opportunities. And in looking at the bigger picture, shareholder value is tied to growth. In other words, the wireless carriers that succeed in the enterprise segment will outperform their competitors in the long term.

We see a crucial opportunity for wireless providers to play and win in the roll-out of enterprise 5G technologies. Some critical considerations for wireless carriers include:

  1. How can we prove the value of 5G to our enterprise customers? 
  2. How can we invest in enterprise customer success and demonstrate customer-centricity?
  3. How can we adapt sales and operating models to compete?

Proving the value of 5G to enterprise customers

For wireless carriers to win in 5G, they must reimagine how they demonstrate and deliver the value of connectivity to enterprise customers. This reimagination requires a fundamental shift in employee mindsets. For many wireless players, entrenched habits, KPIs, and practices center on transactions rather than an end-to-end customer journey. This behavior impedes a seamless enterprise customer experience and stymies the value that wireless players can deliver to customers. Unfortunately, a transactional focus on selling SIM cards and connections prevails on many wireless carrier B2B and enterprise teams. Often, this focus leads to a misallocation of resources and hinders growth. Also, enterprise teams are often overshadowed in size and enjoy fewer resources than their consumer team counterparts. In addressing the 5G opportunity, wireless carriers must focus on the enterprise customer. It’s a heavy lift, but one that is attainable with the right people in place.

Demonstrating customer-centricity

Wireless players must gain a keen understanding of enterprise customers’ needs and how connectivity can add value. On the path to customer-centricity, most carriers have a clear workforce readiness gap, underscoring the crucial role people play. Organizations with limited experience selling enterprise solutions will need to make new investments in skillsets and embrace a radical mindset change. Closing this gap is the first step if carriers hope to capture more than a trickle of the new enterprise business.  

Selling 5G will require varied support services to address a diverse range of business models and customer buying patterns. As a result, carriers will need to organize their teams around specific industry needs and solutions. How effectively they prepare to capture these new revenue streams will determine the trajectory of growth and shareholder value in the age of 5G. 

Transforming the operating model to compete

Accessing enterprise markets also calls for a more consultative and collaborative approach. This approach is a far cry from the transactional sales machine that has been the norm for decades. To compete in the enterprise space, wireless organizations must engage with customers in a vastly different way than they do with consumers. Consider the following challenges, all of which will require the buy-in and support of your people.

  • Review operating models and consider how to best respond to a new and expanding enterprise customer base with a customer-centric approach.
  • Design an efficient enterprise sales process. In these processes, move your focus away from short-term transactional results. Instead, encourage a longer-term investment in driving enterprise customer success.
  • Adjust internal processes and collaboration across traditional functional silos to ensure the wireless operator and ecosystem partner success. Thinking and KPIs must shift from a focus on selling subscriptions and devices to selling solutions. 
  • Identify opportunities to foster partnerships to help fill gaps in customer needs.
  • Decide on investment opportunities to work with innovative customers who are a good fit for your organization and offer valuable experiences. Collaborate on experimentation and proof-of-concept efforts that demonstrate value. 

Growing use of partnerships

Developing and implementing complete solutions that deliver on the promise of 5G will require new and increasingly integrated partnerships. Leaders will need to transform ways of working as collaboration across multiple partners, teams, and industries becomes the norm. Critical questions for carriers include: 

  • Which partners can best equip me to help customers drive digital transformation?
  • What are the roles of each of the players in the ecosystem?
  • Where can I find synergy in partner relationships?
  • How can we best capture the value in the supply chain?
  • Which partners are an excellent cultural fit for our organization?

The power of your people

In becoming customer-centric, reimagining operations, and forging value-added partnerships for the world of enterprise 5G, carrier employee know-how, mindsets, and ways of working will make or break success. With employees driving the change, a wireless organization can differentiate by serving as a digital transformation partner with customers, not merely filling a service-provider role.

While carriers boast technical skills in spades, most will need to improve the collaborative sales skills, support, and partner networks necessary to flourish in the enterprise segment. By shifting their culture and skillsets, wireless carriers will build credibility in this space or risk losing key roles and revenue to others in the 5G ecosystem. Underscoring the importance of workforce know-how, two-thirds of organizations tell us that workforce skills and capability are the top factor helping (or hindering) their preparedness to address the strategic agenda. Supplement skills with a focus on workforce planning, operating model design, program delivery, and organizational change. By transforming your workforce, you’ll prime your organization to reach its full potential in a new and competitive 5G ecosystem.  

Getting started

Reorienting your organization to secure a 5G competitive advantage is fundamentally transformative. You'll need to reimagine the customer experience, operating models, partnerships—and most importantly, the role that your people play. As with any transformation, the first step is to define the fundamental “why” behind your strategic direction and align employees around it. Bringing the right leaders to the table for a rapid destination planning session can address these essential considerations. When paired with a proven virtual engagement model, this approach accelerates outcomes. Your transformation journey starts today, and we look forward to helping you take the first steps.