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Changing consumer needs driving digital transformation

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Changing consumer needs driving digital transformation

The demand for better customer experiences is driving digital transformation among technology, media and telecoms companies, executives from Havas SA, Globe Telecom and CNN Philippines said at Digicon 2017 in Manila, Philippines.

For Globe Telecom CEO Ernest Cu, transforming into more than just a telecom services provider is merely a "matter of survival." He told the crowd that the company internally — has come to the conclusion that "the telco industry, the way we know it, is dead."

SNL ImageThe panel at Digicon 2017 in Manila
Source: Jillian Olazo

The company has shifted its focus on moving beyond providing traditional telco services, such as voice calls and SMS texts, in favor of "a digital lifestyle" that the consumer increasingly wants.

Talking about how companies are coping with disruption from within their respective industries, Cu mentioned that as consumers are getting more and more interested in messaging platforms such as WhatsApp Inc., Viber, and Facebook Messenger his company decided to "embrace it," instead of competing with it.

Globe Telecom partnered with Viber in the Philippines, despite acknowledging that the latter is "trying to destroy" the company's revenue stream, Cu said. The move did pay off eventually, he said, and the disruption of social media messaging apps actually increased the use of mobile data in the Philippines.

Cu did, however, warn against seeing digital services as a cash cow. Globe Telecom tried to create its own Spotify AB and Netflix Inc., only to pull back. Now, it is looking to take advantage of established OTT platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to drive growth in the company's mobile data revenues.

"It is embracing a trend, continuing to do that and following consumers as they go," the Globe CEO said.

Also advocating a consumer-centric approach, Vishnu Mohan, Havas Media CEO for Asia-Pacific and CEO of Havas Group for India and Southeast Asia, stressed the importance of offering content "that the consumer wants to see, not what the brand wants to show them." Havas is owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi SA.

Mohan was quick to add that merely understanding the consumer's needs is not enough; an organization's readiness to meet them is just as crucial.

"Before anybody disrupts us, we disrupt ourselves," Mohan told delegates, referring to the company's 18 Havas, a framework that analyzes what the next 18 months will mean for Havas, specifically on where consumer behavior is headed.

Mohan added that recent M&A between industries is a reflection of companies integrating aspects of the video transition to have "one holistic chain" of providing services to customers.

Emmy Award-winning journalist Armie Jarin-Bennett, president of CNN Philippines, said that all companies, regardless of industry, should listen to customers' needs and adapt to their lifestyles, adding that she uses social media as a listening tool to strengthen the company's content and storytelling.

Jarin-Bennett recounted that when news broke that martial law was declared nationwide in the Philippines and it turned out to be a hoax, she told her staff to relay the news through Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc.'s live video feature and on the CNN website, knowing that most people would not rely on television to seek information.