Digitize or else! The stark choice facing operators in 2016

Content Devices OTT Mobile Media Applications Apps

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Bobby Srinivasan, CEO of Mobileum, explains what operators need to evolve into digital service providers.

Times are tough for traditional Communication Service Providers (CSPs). Competition has traditionally been between telcos of a similar ilk, but with so much of the competition diversifying to exploit alternative revenue streams and the arrival of telecoms virtualization, the level of competition has reached new heights. Technology has changed this, digitalization in particular has provided a catalyst for monumental change and now the entire industry is undergoing a transformation as a consequence.

Telcos are turning to new tactics to compete in a vastly different landscape and quickly having to come to terms with new strategies. Approaches now focus on methods like customer journey mapping and data driven services and products, rather than relying on the tried and tested days of voice and data services.

Other industries have paved the way to online success, such as Amazon and Google, who have been quick to illustrate that the key to digital success lies in a customer-centric approach and that in order to keep up and be a competitor of note, CSPs are going to have to make the transition from a legacy CSP to a proficient Digital Service Provider (DSP).

The key to achieving this is data. CSPs have data in abundance and combining data collection with analytics will help in identifying new business models, which can in turn drive operational excellence. Telcos can use these insights to predict data loss or network deterioration, as well as prevent service disruptions, or simply make decisions faster, driving operational efficiencies.

Customer journey mapping can help CSPs to make this transition. Identifying customer expectations and benchmarking these against the customer’s actual experience can reveal where a CSP can make improvements, refine existing processes and improve customer retention. While it does bring the whole business model into scrutiny, it helps to realign investment and technologies for greater effectiveness across all areas, from the back office functions like billing to customer facing features like e-payments, and even prompting recommendations for customization or niche added-value offers.

I’m sure it’s not surprising to most, to hear that digital consumers expect OTT content as part of their mobile subscription, just like they expect a reliable service, faster speeds and always at lower and lower prices. CSPs who want to thrive in this digital age need to find a way to deliver this, and on-demand, if they are to prevent churn.

It’s possible that exploring this process could highlight gaps in a CSPs offering. Rather than this being a negative, it presents the opportunity to build partnerships and form joint ventures, which can result in cross-vertical market products and additional revenue streams from non-telecom industries such as travel, logistics, and health care, among others.

Smart CSPs are already using their customer data to devise ways to leverage their customer relationships and build trust and loyalty at every customer touchpoint. They’re using customer journey mapping to feed into bundling initiatives and creating tariffs that their customers desire while becoming increasingly agile, multi-industry DSPs who are claiming the greatest market opportunities and resulting market share.

As with all change, risk is inherent. However those CSPs who can adapt to competently use real-time insights will learn to mitigate this, finding smooth transitions using “agile” techniques to implement the new technology and processes to support the digital shift, further using A/B testing to determine what works before it is rolled out in production.

It’s a lot to process, but with very little growth expected for core mobility connectivity revenue in the coming year, it’s essential that mobile operators diversify to find new revenue streams like connected technology for enterprises, IoT for smart cities, and apply business models of the digital world, if they wish to remain relevant in a transforming ecosystem.


Bobby_Hi-resBobby Srinivasan is the CEO and Cofounder of Mobileum. He has been instrumental in transforming Mobileum from a start-up into a global leader in roaming and big data analytics that serves 617 service providers in 150+ countries. Mobileum, uses data to deliver monetizable insights to communication service providers and helps them act on these insights to implement processes that drive digitalization and so enable them to benefit from, and thrive in, a rapidly transforming industry. ​

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