How Telecom Providers Can Avoid Escalating Business Risks

user, December 15, 2021

In the Face of New Threats, Trust Your Supplier Is Helping Telecom Network Operators Build Stronger, More Resilient Supply Chains

Digital transformation in the telecommunications industry was already underway when COVID-19 arrived. But as in other industries, the disruption sparked by the pandemic has accelerated efforts to leverage technology on a variety of fronts. Of course, it has also introduced new obstacles that major firms in the sector are still figuring out how to navigate.

Among the biggest challenges faced by the telecom industry today is a persistent and sophisticated cyberthreat. As companies become more reliant on digital infrastructures, malicious actors — whether they’re working independently or under the direction of adversarial foreign governments — are increasingly setting their sights on organizations that are invaluable to the global IT supply chain. That includes the world’s largest telecom providers, whose clients often include major government agencies.

There’s also the well-documented semiconductor shortage. When chip manufacturing plants shut down and ports succumbed to gridlock during the pandemic, chipmakers scrambled to meet excess demand. Given that semiconductors are critical components of all advanced technologies and that demand surplus isn’t expected to subside any time soon, the telecommunications industry will continue to grapple with supply shortages.

And then, of course, there’s the issue of compliance. The patchwork of data privacy legislation that now spans much of the globe is creating additional pressures for companies in a wide range of sectors, and telecom players are no exception. Although digitalization in the telecom industry has largely been aimed at increasing speed and agility, new regulations calling for greater transparency in reporting and more robust data security practices tend to be at odds with those objectives. Like companies in other industries, telecom providers have struggled to be nimble while sharing an ever-increasing amount of data and adhering to more stringent legislative mandates.

Innovation as an Equalizer

As history has demonstrated countless times, pressure is often a key ingredient for innovation — including all things related to telecommunications transformation. The issues above have forced telecom providers to respond with solutions, and many are now answering the call. Firms such as Nokia, Vodafone, and BT have joined forces with Chainyard and leaders in other industries to implement Trust Your Supplier (or TYS): a blockchain-based solution that improves supplier qualification, validation, onboarding, life cycle information management, compliance, and risk management.

TYS is accelerating digital transformation in this sector and others by allowing for greater transparency and visibility across every supplier touchpoint. In the process, it supports more robust compliance activities, such as those supporting diversity, sustainability, cybersecurity, and anti-corruption.

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Before TYS, most telecom providers faced a complex supplier onboarding process that typically occurred apart from other core processes (such as those associated with sales and contracting). TYS integrates with the enterprise resource planning platforms leading telecoms have already deployed, leveraging existing data to automate integral onboarding functions. This has significantly reduced the time needed to onboard new suppliers and allows qualified suppliers to immediately assume the vital role of supporting telecoms and their customers. By making it easier for procurement and partnership teams to collect, manage, and access supplier data associated with, say, diversity and inclusion activities, TYS also alleviates some of the pressures created by stringent compliance mandates.

Without the ability to continuously monitor supplier performance in today’s fast-paced global economy, organizations will continue to struggle with capturing the full benefits of digital transformation in the telecom market (and in other markets). They’ll face higher acquisition costs, greater procurement risks, potential compliance fines, and less resilient supply chains. They’ll also miss out on the opportunities that come with access to supplier performance analytics and a more diversified supplier base.

Moreover, companies that implement TYS are achieving these three major benefits:

1. Supply chain network visualization.

Increased transparency is enabling companies to more easily identify vulnerabilities — think bottlenecks or supplier clusters in potentially risky areas. They also are able to build and maintain risk profiles for all suppliers, vendors, and third parties, allowing for ongoing visibility as risks fluctuate.

2. Continuous monitoring.

TYS is giving companies the ability to single out specialty or single-source suppliers and other vendors that could directly or indirectly exert outsized influence on their business results. They have near real-time insights regarding business processes that might lead to shortages or other disruptions, allowing them to address potential issues proactively and avoid unnecessary costs associated with remediation.

3. Improved supplier diversity.

A homogenous supplier base can pose an existential threat to a telecom provider’s business, especially if it relies heavily on suppliers in areas characterized by high geopolitical or environmental risk. TYS can provide participating companies with greater access to a network of qualified suppliers, allowing them to mitigate these risks and to ensure remediation processes are in place should they be needed.

Telecom providers are playing a leadership role in the ongoing development of TYS. However, the above benefits are giving companies across many industries an advantage. As the risks associated with regulation, cybersecurity, and supplier consolidation continue to mount, TYS is giving participating firms the ability to navigate them with confidence.

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