SOURCE: The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group

October 16, 2014 00:31 ET

Telco IT Investments Continue to Rise as Outsourcing Tops One-Quarter of Total IT Spending

This Year's Telco IT Benchmarking Study -- Conducted by ETIS and BCG -- Shows Increased IT Investment, Focused in Areas That Can Help Telcos Stand Out From the Pack

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM--(Marketwired - Oct 16, 2014) - Traditional telecom services may be struggling, but new offerings are showing promise and telco IT units are taking the right steps to spur and support them, according to a new report by The Global IT Association for Telecommunications (ETIS) and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The report, titled TeBIT 2014 Executive Report: Paving the Paths to New Revenue, looks at telco IT costs and spending patterns.

Participants in the TeBIT 2014 survey -- a mix of integrated, fixed, and mobile operators from emerging and mature markets in Europe -- are continuing to shift from IT cost reduction to focused IT investments in areas that can drive competitive advantage. Overall, IT capital expenditures rose 3.4 percent for TeBIT 2014 participants (4.7 percent for those in mature markets). And, on average, participants steered nearly a third of their investment budgets to their top three initiatives -- projects heavily skewed toward improvements in the network and the customer experience.

Particularly striking, the report's authors conclude, is that even as participants' IT capital expenditures increased, they managed their IT operating expenses in line with their revenue decline -- something that telcos have historically been unable to do.

"The idea that telcos can boost their IT investments yet at the same time lower their IT operating expenses is a powerful -- and previously unobtainable -- notion," says Frank Felden, a BCG partner and coauthor of the report. "It means they would be able, in effect, to have their cake and eat it, too -- spending to foster novel new offerings yet controlling costs. But to do that on a sustainable basis, they will need to find a good mix of innovation-focused and efficiency-focused investments. That is the hard part, but this year's results indicate that it may indeed be possible."

Also noteworthy are the report's findings on outsourcing -- an increasingly popular lever for telco IT units and one that now accounts for 26 percent of participants' total IT spending (up from 23 percent in the 2013 survey). For the first time, a TeBIT study did not find a direct linear correlation between a high degree of outsourcing and high IT spending.

"One possible, and compelling, explanation for this finding is that telcos may be gaining a better understanding of how and where to best leverage outsourcing," says Terje Tøndel, ETIS managing director and a coauthor of the report. "The survey clearly shows participants turning to outsourcing more in some areas than in others. We saw a greater degree of outsourcing for application maintenance, for example, than we did for IT infrastructure. This makes sense. Application maintenance is an area in which vendors can bring capabilities a telco may not have in sufficient supply, whereas IT infrastructure services are something many telcos offer to their own customers and can easily, and efficiently, handle themselves."

This year's TeBIT report also features three interviews with telco executives, in order to provide an inside look at -- and insights into -- these executives' own IT strategies. Indeed, it is that spirit of information sharing that is the hallmark of the TeBIT studies. By openly sharing data in order to encourage discussion and exchange of knowledge, telcos can both gauge their own performance and help steer the industry forward.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or

About ETIS
ETIS is a membership-based organization founded in 1991 that brings together the major telecommunications providers in Europe in order to share knowledge on key information and communication technology (ICT) issues in a trusted environment. The mission of ETIS is to enable its members to improve their business performance through personal exchange of information on using ICT effectively. ETIS achieves this by engaging its members in working groups and task forces, sharing best practices and common requirements, benchmarking, surveys, and an active online community. For more information, please visit

About The Boston Consulting Group
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 81 offices in 45 countries. For more information, please visit

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Contact Information

  • The Boston Consulting Group
    Eric Gregoire
    Global Media Relations Manager

    Tel +1 617 850 3783
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