Operators baffled by new technology

Written by on April 1, 2015 in Opinion with 1 Comment

Office worker with eye painWe love surveys at DisruptiveViews. There are the ones that present a well thought through business case for investment in IT, which will result in significant opex savings. There are the ones that put a value on a big opportunity and present ways of grabbing it. Then there are the ones that contradict themselves. Or at least the sample seems to. One such is the annual Telecoms.com one.

The sample is significant at over 2,000 communications professionals. The make up of the sample is spot on. The survey clearly represents the views of the telecoms operators globally. And it is well done by Telecoms.com.

The conclusion is that operators are confused.

In answer to the question ‘what are the primary means of competitive differentiation among the mobile operators in your market?’ (select three), the top choice was network quality/coverage. This is a) not surprising – without network coverage you do not have a business and b) probably should not even be an option in a survey like this. (It would also be nice if it was that important that operators in apparently developed economies like the UK would actually do something about it.)

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What is amazing about this question is that customer service, which surely should be a massive focus for operators was chosen by less than half the sample. Maybe this is because operators are too busy trying to find the ‘silver bullet’ to concentrate on their customers. As one operator – not from this survey – said, “we spend a lot of time wondering how to differentiate ourselves, think we have it, go to a conference to see how we are doing, and find everyone else has come up with the same idea. It is not easy.”

Right down the list of differentiators are ‘content partnerships’ and ‘carrier billing.’ These are two (out of five) areas where we believe operators must now focus to survive and thrive. One of them, IoT, was not even on the list – and yet IBM is just about to invest $3 billion in an IoT unit.

What makes this funny is that when it comes to asking the sample about which services they are planning to deploy or upgrade in the next 12 months, just over half said ‘customer management.’ And yet less than half of them said that it is a differentiator.

Even if you gloss over that slightly weird mis-match, the gap between those that think content partnerships are a differentiator (just ten percent) and the 67 percent that ‘believe that bundling offers from content providers such as video and music services, is a serious consideration for new revenue generating services’ things become surreal.

The conclusion has to be, at least in our opinion, that operators do not really know which way to go and are investing in new technology as a way of avoiding the decision, while keeping shareholders quiet.

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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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  1. Ravi says:

    Agree with the observations, option 1 is a non-option given we now have porting in almost all countries.Content partnership and IoT are definitely the top two revenue enablers in the near future.Also service innovation is an option that a CSP can do nothing about(if it is truly service delivery), the option multiplay offerings should have covered this. I have been working with Telcos as part of RFPs and do realize that they do not know what they want and there is a clear disconnect between IT and core business in every Telco ecosystem.

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