How do operators view the next year or so?

Written by on September 23, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Business gameReal-time charging specialist Openet has been busy over the summer. They have been talking to over a hundred operators about how digital they feel. The report, another in a series of excellent papers from Openet is, on the whole, upbeat. There are, however, some areas that raise an eyebrow.

Not surprisingly, operators see the biggest threat to their revenues coming from OTT players (which we now refer to as Digital Service Providers (DSPs). Other than that, they see competition from their own kind, Wi-Fi providers and MVNOs such as Google Fi as having about the same threat level. More than half of the operators saw themselves as quite prepared, or better, to address the threat. 37 percent, however, felt they were unprepared or worse.

In echoes of a past, network centric world, operators still see their biggest asset as their network, followed by customer trust. Lagging, as their biggest asset (or biggest liability) is the legacy that they are still carrying around. This legacy and the effort required to transform it to a digital platform is seen as the biggest barrier to becoming a digital telco.

In another echo of something that we have been saying for a while now, almost two-thirds of operators feel that there is a danger that data is becoming a commodity, and fast. This, then, is an unspoken danger, because it reduces the scope for innovation and turns possible products into commodities and opens the door to price wars and razor-thin margins. It is our opinion that the third that do not see the danger might be kidding themselves.

That said, very recent examples have come to light which show that, as long as operators partner with content provider, such as Netflix, they can see a significant uplift in data usage and therefore data revenue. Perhaps, with 4G and whatever comes next, operators believe that the promise of quality video streaming is attraction enough, however un-creative it might be. It also might be short-sighted.

Operators believe that bundling multi-play offers are the key to success, with, interestingly, mobile advertising as the least effective way of increasing revenue. A range of options in between these two include home IoT applications (a minefield in the light of the Quirky collapse), partnering with DSPs to increase the value of their offerings, and application service passes.

The paper covers a wide range of issues, all pertinent to an operator’s next steps. How often should an operator ‘personally’ communicate with customers? What should be included in operator apps, above and beyond self-care management tools? Are operators better at customer engagement than the DSPs (no prizes for guessing that one)? How long should it take to build and launch an offer? This, compared to how long it takes now is interesting for the honesty of the answers compared to the goal.

Interestingly, operators’ opinion on whether they should use real-time data to offer customers relevant and compelling products was split almost exactly down the middle.

All in all, there is perhaps more reality in these operators’ opinions than was first apparent. With the exception of some of them blanking the danger of data becoming a commodity, operators know they have a lot of work ahead, they acknowledge the threat from DSPs and understand that DSPs are better at customer engagement. For now.

They also know what we have known for years. That their legacy BSS is still their biggest liability.

The paper is an excellent snapshot of what operators are thinking, and deserving of the download.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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