Telecom network operators acknowledged they are out of touch with customers' wants and are struggling to keep up with user expectations, a survey of industry executives found.

In a global online study published on Monday, 68 percent said their traditional corporate mindset was out of sync with new forms of service and 81 percent struggle to launch new services quickly and efficiently, leaving the field wide open for smaller, more nimble new competitors.

The study -- conducted by California-based Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and sponsored by telecom software company Openet -- surveyed 212 senior professionals representing marketing and technology functions at global operators and communications providers, including managers at AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica O2 and Vodacom.

We are at a pivot point in our industry, said Michael Manzo, chief marketing officer at Openet. Operators are under siege from new competitors, yet their ability to seize strategic opportunities is being impeded by integration and legacy issues.

Telecom operators have been successful in adjusting prices and offers for voice calls and text messages but have been slow to tap into customer data to tailor their offers to new habits and demands driven by smart phones and tablets.

Operators' unparalleled access to people's data usage is a potential gold mine as operators could delve into the intimacies of customers' lives -- which websites they view, where they shop, their social and political views --- something Google has taken advantage of to allow advertisers to reach target audiences for example.

Only 14 percent of those questioned in the study reported they have a good handle on real-time usage and activity of their customers, whereas the rest rely on historic data more heavily, the study found.

However, should operators and service providers manage to fulfill customer demands, 94 percent said they expect to see potentially higher revenue and over half of those surveyed anticipate a more than 10 percent increase in sales.

(Reporting by Nicola Leske; Editing by David Holmes)