Telecom industry themes to watch in the new reality

As telecom companies shift into the new reality, we are seeing key themes emerge among telecom CEOs globally: evolving risk factors, digital transformation, and ESG (environmental, social, and governance).

Evolving Risk Factors

Telecom CEOs are turning their attention to four main risk areas to enhance their organizational resilience -- talent, supply chain, cyber security, and emerging technology.

Talent risk concerns have increased as telecom CEOs are challenged with keeping workers connected, engaged, and productive despite surging customer demand, COVID-related anxiety, and a sudden need to change work patterns. CEOs will need to focus on enhancing the employee experience as work-from-anywhere employment strategies increase the ability of top talent to change employers easily.

Supply chain risk increased as manufacturing shut down suddenly, constraining the global supply of 5G infrastructure equipment and popular consumer devices, just as telecom companies are wrestling with capturing the maximum value and share of revenue from these emerging technologies. Trade disputes and national security concerns created a highly challenging supply chain environment.

Cyber security concerns increased in the wake of the rising demand and growing reliance on at-home telecom services for work, family connections, education, and entertainment needs. Providing effective security is an ongoing and expanding opportunity for telecom companies.

Emerging and disruptive technology became less of a concern as CEOs shifted their focus to meeting surging demand and a near-term need to enhance resiliency. In the U.S., many CEOs have accelerated initiatives and collapsed six years’ worth of digital transformation into six months —as much a function of survival as a conscious effort to accelerate transformation. The immediacy of COVID-19 bandwidth needs temporarily shifted focus, but as markets, customers, and especially enterprises stabilize their operations, telecom CEOs have renewed their focus on disruptive technology. 5G, cloud computing, omnichannel support and sales, and creating a true digital customer and employee experience are top of mind for many CEOs.

Digital Transformation

COVID-19 accelerated the digital transformation initiatives among telecom companies, including a sudden shift to a digital customer experience and revenue streams. As these efforts gain momentum, telecom providers should focus their resources in areas that generate

the most value while similarly enhancing their resiliency. Value creation through accelerated 5G network deployment along with scalable products that drive new consumer and enterprise demand. At the same time, providers should continue to build on the digital transformation across the front, middle, and back office to further enhance their resiliency.  Taken together, these steps will help telecoms maximize value from their capital-intensive 5G investments. 


COVID-19 prompted telecom providers to accelerate ESG initiatives. Telecom CEOs recognize the importance of devoting more attention to ESG issues and to lock in any sustainability and climate change gains made as a result of the crisis. The pandemic also prompted more organizations to demonstrate their role in serving societal needs.

To continue to address the above themes in the new reality, telecom operators will need to reevaluate their resources to enable big bets in their supply chain, digital transformation efforts, and in their ESG priorities.

To learn more about these trends, read the new KPMG global Telecoms Industry CEO Outlook

To schedule an interview with Sean Sullivan, please contact Mike Alva.


Media contact

Mike Alva

Mike Alva

Director, Corporate Communications, KPMG US

+1 925 878-5488



  Sean Sullivan

Sean Sullivan

National Telecommunications Industry Leader, KPMG US

+1 303-296-2323

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