In its latest groundbreaking benchmarking study to identify the movers and losers in telco innovation, ABI Research has concluded that Asian telcos are leaders in innovation, followed by U.S. Tier Ones: AT&T and Verizon. European telcos are perceived as laggards in the innovation game, with DT, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone distant followers of China Mobile, NTT Docomo, Softbank and KDDI which are even ramping up their efforts to foster innovation. ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies, has assessed patent portfolios, standards contributions, open source involvement, acquisitions, investments and R&D spend to accurately benchmark innovation efforts for a list of top-20 operators worldwide.
“Although many telcos complain that they find it difficult to foster innovation internally, our Telco Innovation Benchmark Study indicates that they are actually spending a minimum effort compared to vendors and web-scale companies,” said Dimitris Mavrakis, Research Director at ABI Research. “At the same time, Asian telcos – namely NTT Docomo and China Mobile – have the highest scores across the board, indicating they are investing for the long-term and understand that 5G will require expertise outside their traditional connectivity domain.”
An even more important aspect of the two leading Asian telcos is that they are ramping up their efforts to develop, acquire and invest in UnTelco areas. ABI Research refers to UnTelco as business opportunities beyond connectivity, where telcos aim to address enterprise verticals and become much more than simple connectivity providers. For example, 20% of NTT Docomo’s recent patent holdings are in the non-connectivity domain, and China Mobile is ramping up its efforts to acquire UnTelco patents: more than 35% of its recent patent acquisitions are in the non-connectivity domain. European telcos meander around the 10% mark.
“UnTelco expertise will become vital as 5G is deployed, and failure to become an innovation leader is equal to becoming, at best, a spectator of Asian and U.S. leaders and, at worst, prey to disruptors among web-scale companies and technology suppliers,” Mavrakis explains. “European telcos should invest more efforts to build up expertise internally and become innovation hubs, rather than living under the shadow of their technology partners’ wings. UnTelco business models must be bulletproofed today, long before 5G is ubiquitous, and this will give a massive competitive boost to telcos who choose to act fast.”
These findings are from ABI Research’s Telco Innovation Benchmark: Winners and Losers in the Race to Future Revenues report. This report is part of the company’s Telco Cloud and Digital Transformation research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights.
About ABI Research
ABI Research provides strategic guidance for visionaries needing market foresight on the most compelling transformative technologies, which reshape workforces, identify holes in a market, create new business models and drive new revenue streams. ABI’s own research visionaries take stances early on those technologies, publishing groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms. ABI analysts deliver their conclusions and recommendations in easily and quickly absorbed formats to ensure proper context. Our analysts strategically guide visionaries to take action now and inspire their business to realize a bigger picture. For more information about ABI Research’s forecasting, consulting and teardown services, visionaries can contact us at +1.516.624.2500 in the Americas, +44.203.326.0140 in Europe, +65.6592.0290 in Asia-Pacific or visit www.abiresearch.com.
About ABI Research
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