APAC Service Providers Weigh in on the Region’s Digital Journey

Asia Pacific communications service providers serve a massive and diverse customer base. Arguably, they face more challenges than many of their peers in other markets – whether serving some of the most advanced digital consumers in the world or starting to move away from analog services. So, we wanted to find out about their aspirations and attitudes regarding the digital economy, where they are on their digital journey, where they are going – and why.


We discovered some results you’d expect (a large proportion – 75% – of respondents have either launched digital services or are about to) and some that were more surprising (that’s why we called it our Mythbusting survey).


One of the questions we asked concerned the types of digital products and services that our respondents offer now and intend to offer in the future. The results, in the graph below, revealed an interesting scissor diagram.

The data show that current offerings typically revolve around mobility and are more likely to provide efficiency gains. Communications and collaboration, enterprise mobility and digital commerce and payments all fit into this category for example.


But if we look into the future, our respondents seem to be getting more ‘big picture’ in their ambitions for the digital economy. Big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the fairly surprising outlier eHealth, are all expected to be offered in the future nearly as frequently as the mobility offerings are now.


Perhaps this isn’t so surprising, since big data and the IoT are on the lips of almost every industry pundit and journalist these days. But I think there’s more to it than that. I believe that our respondents tapped into the overall benefits of the digital economy for society as a whole. And that’s certainly what we’re hearing from our CSP clients. They’re looking to help their customers – from consumers to large corporations and government – reap the rewards of the digital economy (and in turn of course help themselves with increased revenue and customer loyalty).


Take the Internet of Things for example. Many CSPs are making large investments to place themselves at the heart of the IoT ecosystem, serving both consumers and corporate customers. Products and services like in-home security and connected cars get much of the press limelight, but the ‘Industrial IoT’ is equally, if not more lucrative, according to some of the CEOs I talk to. While cost efficiencies are the current focus in many sectors like manufacturing and energy, our more advanced clients are seeing opportunities for providing collaboration between industries, spawning a whole new era of convergence. This will necessitate new organizational designs, possibly built around the sharing economy, which means that new business models will emerge focused on pay-per-use and the monetization of data.


Perhaps then it was no accident that eHealth was the standout growth market for our survey respondents. If there is one area that stands to benefit from new business models it is perhaps health. All of society is impacted, because, as we point out in our survey analysis, there are three major drivers at work rather than one. First, consumers want safe and effective healthcare; secondly, governments and insurers want to provide it efficiently as the cost of healthcare continues to escalate; and thirdly, health is a market where customers are prepared to pay, so monetization is almost assured.


Of course, fluid business models require fluid BSS. With fluid BSS, ideally delivered in the cloud, CSPs can launch new digital services more quickly and cost effectively, enabling them to ‘fail fast’ and begin again like the Internet organisations they find themselves competing with. They can introduce new digital channel experiences via devices they might not have been able to support previously, enabling them to go where their customers are – and maybe benefit society.