With internet giants, is there another path for operators?

Written by on October 6, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Friend to help to extend the handThe paper we reviewed last week from AsiaInfo addresses some core issues for operators today. It will, we said, provide a discussion point for the industry for the next few weeks and months. It will be in the spotlight at the at the Pricing and OSS/BSS conference in London over the next couple of days. It certainly gave us pause for thought.

It is simplistic to sum up a paper in less than fifty words, but we will anyway.

Do operators want to use real-time data in their offers to customers? Yes.

Are they able to? Not yet.

Are they as agile as the ‘internet giants’ who are their biggest challenge? No.

Operators believe that the biggest barrier to them being agile is regulation and thereafter the silos that keep systems from talking to each other as they should (in an ideal world). That, and the fact that IT keeps a close eye on how they are used.

300x300[2]The good news is that operators are on the case. Most are implementing, or have implemented real-time solutions. The news of the potential of real-time is spreading through the organisation. Initiatives to flatten organisations to make better use of the information that is already there are being sponsored from higher and higher in the organisation.

Within two years, we will see some true innovations coming from the operator community. The question is should they try and emulate the internet giants or should they tread their own path?

Inevitably, the answer is both.

Although we have long said that we need to get ‘beyond data’ as no-one understands it nor can measure it (and is therefore scary), data is a good starting point. Providing easy, fast, ubiquitous access to the internet, in a way that customers can understand must be ‘step one’. Although this window of opportunity may be short lived it will help bolster trust in operators. They must turn from companies that charge you extra if you transgress ‘their’ rules, to companies that help customers manage theirs. Clarity, simplicity and intelligent bundling will be an extension of that first step and will further build trust.

Partnerships will become widespread and commonplace. Expected even.

Whatever happens with the barriers of net neutrality, innovation through partnerships will not be stopped. Whether they be mega partnerships, such as the AT&T and DirecTV acquisition, based on a whole new way of selling customer data, or whether they be more subtle, it will be interesting to watch.

One thing that is often overlooked is the internet giants want to form partnerships with operators. They see their customers as needing things that only operators can provide. Whether that be a super fast, super secure and great quality network or whether it is something else, the internet players want the partnerships. A great example is the TripAdvisor one, from last year’s Pricing and BSS event.

So, to an extent, whether operators actually need to ‘catch up’ with the ever more agile internet giants is worthy of discussion. Providing fast, reliable access, with agile pricing and bundling will attract the giants to the table. And if operators can bring their own, real-time knowledge to that table, whether for their own benefit or for that of the partnership, it must be good news.

In the meantime, operators certainly need to continue to knock down those silos and start asking themselves ‘what would Google do?’

You can download the AsiaInfo paper here.

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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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