For about 80,000 people in the mobile industry, the end of February and early March is an exciting time when Mobile World Congress pulls us to Spain to immerse ourselves in the mobile experience, learning from industry experts, providers and vendors about cutting-edge trends and products.
Over the past few years, much of the focus has been on digital services and transformation. If you chart the evolution of the communication services provider (CSP) landscape, it’s clear that we are inching closer to true digital transformation becoming a reality. We’ve seen the telecom industry move from wireline to wireless, to the age of messaging and data, and through to geo-location, streaming video content and personal assistant capabilities. Transformation is happening under our very noses, and it’s not just the services—the business models needed for success and the competitive landscape have completely transformed as well, not to mention customer expectations.
Ahead of MWC17, here are some trends that I think should be top of mind for CSPs not only to compete, but to generate wealth, in today’s digital economy.
Dealing with competition from all directions
Today’s CSPs face an entirely different set of competitors. It’s no longer enough to keep your eye on the other telecom providers— the competitive pool has expanded to include the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook, heavy hitters in the tech world who have set the bar quite high in terms of customer experience.
Take this year’s MWC as an example – Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, will headline the first day’s keynote presentation, the first time a media and entertainment company has been given this spot. To me, that’s a pretty clear indication that our industry is changing, and different players are entering the game.
For CSPs trying to make the transition to digital, the biggest risk is standing still. Waiting to roll out digital services just isn’t an option.
Age of the consumer
Expectations for features and quality of customer service are at an all-time high; it’s clear that we’re now living in the age of the consumer.
Consumers now expect traditional services that are faster, better and cheaper, in addition to completely new digital services accessible on-the-go, at any time, on any device. Failure to deliver on this experience has consequences: a study from IBM revealed that 16 percent of customers are more likely to buy from a competitor if they had a bad mobile experience.
In order to meet these high expectations, CSPs will need a more agile approach to experimenting with new services – enhancing features and services that are well received and letting others “fail fast” to make room for the next innovation. This new level of customer obsession has serious business implications; from strategy to the ability to go to market quickly, a shift to a customer-centric focus impacts the entire enterprise.
Aggregating services and evolving infrastructure to keep up
Another trend that can help providers deliver a customer experience that competes with the tech giants: service aggregation.
This allows a provider to build out its own services, while aggregating partner services that consumers want. While this approach introduces more complex interactions with everyone from consumers to business to wholesale providers to distributors, shifting to a B2B2X model can help CSPs manage this complex web. This approach allows CSPs to use their existing capabilities in customer care, billing and networks to form partnerships that will allow them to launch and monetize digital services.
Ultimately, CSPs will need to create a digital ecosystem of partners to make monetization of connectivity, customer centricity and a competitive edge a reality. Integrating third parties and introducing new non-traditional services quickly creates a need for internal infrastructure to evolve, but CSPs will have to make the leap – or risk getting left behind.