Operators upbeat about next two years, understand threats

Written by on October 13, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Teenage upside down.Operators’ views of the next two years seems to be a focus at the moment. A survey and report from real-time specialist Openet provides some great insights into what operators are thinking about. And where they see the greatest challenges over the next two years.

Their greatest competition will come from ‘OTT’ players, or Digital Service Providers (DSPs). This is not surprising, nor is the fact that the next biggest threat will come from other mobile operators. Encouragingly they see customer trust as an asset – we would agree – and they see a danger in data becoming a commodity. We would also agree. What they plan to do about it is to develop multi-play offerings, develop digital life services products to existing customers (home automation and the like) and partner with the DSPs.

All of which makes complete sense. We know that bundles reduce churn and reduce the focus on ‘data.’ We know that operators need to get beyond data. As one service design director for a Tier One operator said last year, ‘I cannot see why anyone would design a product that was not managed in real-time. And we must get beyond services and think ‘product.’’

Openet SurveyAs to partnering with DSPs, this certainly makes sense, but is going to be a lot more fluid and a lot more complicated than we currently think. And if you want to consider emerging complexity, then – as usual – you need look no further than Google. Project Loon is about to take off. Balloons will transmit connectivity from the atmosphere to rural areas in Africa and beyond. Their upside-down logic means that they are the infrastructure provider and operators have the job of distribution, marketing, OSS, BSS and customer service. Operators become service providers for Google, MVNOs even. What levels of regulation, privacy and security will be imposed on Google, we wait to see.

Google has also, perhaps confusingly, bought an RCS play called Jibe. Jibe is a product that came, limping, from the innovation committees of the GSMA. The industry has laughed at RCS for a while now. It is a classic attempt at the elegant, fully formed, all-things-to-all-people messaging offering beloved of operators. Almost forgotten by the industry, Google snaps it up, perhaps knowing that now is the moment for an all-things-to-all-people messaging application.

Perhaps one of the most interesting areas of this paper is the customer service angle. It is a big focus. The vast majority of operators have an app. Most can deliver real-time usage and spend alerts. Many are on the road to self-care in some form. But there is work to do. Operators see that they need to provide tools to manage data sharing; loyalty offer management; roaming and controls for offers and a central hub for all other operator apps.

With the new emphasis on customer self-care, there seems to be some confusion about how often operators should contact their customers. This is not unique to communications. Every industry and company on earth probably wonders the same thing. In communications, though, the largest percentage of operators contact their customers once every three to six months. They think that they should do this once or twice a month.

Who knows?

The only people who can possibly know, say various marketing gurus, are your customers. And the only way to find out is by asking them. And remember, they say, just because we live in a digital age does not mean that every contact or communication needs to be digital.

This report from Openet, based on a survey of over 100 operators, is definitely worth a read. It got us thinking.

The paper can be downloaded here, for free.

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Alex Leslie

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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