Operators’ ongoing digital transformation efforts are increasing pressure on vendors to become more innovative, a new survey has found.

The report commissioned by tech PR firm CCgroup found 86 percent of operator respondents are already undertaking digital transformation journeys and 84 percent believe that in five years’ time they will have moved into completely different types of business.

As a result, an overwhelming 98 percent of operators said they hoped vendors would play a bigger role in innovation, while 78 percent revealed they were demanding more overall from their vendor partners amid increasing complexity in the market.

The global survey polled 64 technology decision-makers at operators.

As well as impacting their relationships with vendors, the survey found that digital transformation was impacting the internal structures of operators, with 52 percent having changed leadership in the last three years and 77 percent having restructured their organisations at least once.

In addition, 80 percent said they had already introduced a Chief Digital Officer role and a further 12 percent are planning to introduce one in the next 18 months.

Operators’ purchasing decisions were also becoming more complicated, with 74 percent of respondents saying that making buying choices through consensus was the “new normal”.

This was leading to some obstacles, with 40 percent saying that purchases are often completely abandoned if consensus is not reached.

While the mean number of people involved in purchasing decisions was currently 38, 70 percent of operators believe the number of people involved in decision-making will increase over the next two years.

“Vendors face a difficult sales and marketing journey, having to meet the needs of dozens of influencers over increasingly long purchasing cycles,” the report said.

“If they fail to do this, they are likely to end up with nothing in return for their investment.”

In terms of how operators are deciding on which vendor to work with, the majority, 55 percent, cited reputation and standing as an important factor.

Niki Hutchinson, Head of Mobile & Telecoms at CCgroup, said: “Our research points to a continually changing set of senior decision makers and purchasing influencers working in organisations whose ‘final destination’ is subject to sporadic reorientation.

“This is beyond frustrating for vendors, who now need to meet the needs of dozens of influencers – with multiple, relevant messaging - over increasingly long purchasing cycles. Without this consensus, they can end up with nothing in return for their investment.”

“It’s clear that telco digital transformation is an opportunity for vendors to play a leading role in – but to properly capitalise on this opportunity requires a sales and marketing strategy rethink.”

Read more: Opinion: It’s time to fix this dysfunctional vendor/operator relationship

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