The relationship that consumers have with their phones, their tablets and any content delivery device, for that matter, is intimate. It’s also complicated. Consumption patterns, technologies and preferences don’t stand still and figuring out what to do and when is far from easy.
If we take a look at some industry stats, the World Economic Forum Digital Transformation of Industries analysis tells us that telecoms operators’ share of the global industry profit pool is forecast to drop to 45% in 2018 from 58% in 2010. Declines of this nature mean one thing: change is needed.
We’re seeing some movement already though. Some of the everyday names in telecoms have either expanded to deliver through more and more channels, or scaled back to focus on mobile only, for instance.
As we look ahead to Mobile World Congress, there will be opportunity to discuss the preparation of what they offer and how they offer it through their workforce, so that their chosen model can bring them the right benefits.
The challenge boils down to whether these organisations can evolve their business models. Can they engage the consumer, and yet be profitable for years to come?
Tough decisions need to be made, and time is running out to make them.
It could be that operators branch out into new services. They could introduce additional capabilities onto their business to run the whole of smart home for a consumer, for instance.
Everything from security to shopping to television. All through one place. At the same time, they might decide to extent their "end-to-end" control of a service.
So not just owning a product, but owning the business functions that exist either side of your business in the supply chain.
This is new. It’s not easy to achieve and operators need to double down on new technologies. And the people to operate them.
The people element of the equation is important, because they will be influential over creating a new agile and open approach that hasn’t existed before.
Amid all of this change, consumers still want their services and to have a smooth experience. Perhaps that’s the most challenging part of all of this!
Done in the right way, consumers will love the convenience of multiple services through one provider. And if they do, the company underpinning this extended experience will create many more touchpoints with the customer, and therefore new value or revenue possibilities.
What will be fascinating to watch as it develops is the battle for supremacy.
A lot of companies will be fighting over customers, but it’s not clear who the winners will be yet. The big service providers and operators that have been around for years have built up trust in their brands. They have a customer base, who they can introduce new services to.
Everything is there for them to succeed, including the customer data that can inform the right moves to make. But can they become agile enough to make the services actually work for the customer.
Data is going to drive this change. Those who have it and use it well will continually re-iterate their understanding of customers.
This "brain" becomes a new sustainable competitive advantage. As it learns about customers and their propensity to use new services, its uses artificial intelligence and microservice delivery capabilities to quickly shape and validate new services in an omnichannel environment.
Telecoms operators will be a leading position if they can capitalise because it empowers them with data such as identity, quality of experience, security, billing relationships – and allows them to monetise that information across a range of partners, who in turn, can use it to better enhance the services they offer.
The takeaway from all of this is that as services in consumer content begin to consolidate, not only will more revenue flow to the companies atop the services pyramid, but so will more data.
As new players become bigger data holders, they could become the new power brokers for customer-facing industries.
Emma McGuigan is group technology officer, communications and media at Accenture